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Editor’s comment of the week: MAS does not deserve a chance

In response to recent column from Neil McCarthy (Give MAS a chance)

Dear Paul,

MAS does not deserve to be given a chance, it deserves to be put out of “our misery” as quickly as possible.

As others have stated if the Government wants to educate the population about managing their finances then let them pay for it through taxation. Although listening to the news last night about the number of schools conned out of a lot of money by tricksters offering “free computers and photocopiers”, I am not convinced that the education system is the right place for financial education.

Even the FSA agreed in its submission to the Treasury select committee that MAS should not be funded by a levy on the financial services sector and yet that is where we find ourselves. If like us you had  money debited from your bank account this month (in our case over £1,000) to fund this organisation then you have every right to be critical of MAS.

MAS has a £46.3 million budget for the 2012/13 year and is in the process of spending £19m that on a name awareness campaign. When I challenged the role of MAS  on Radio 4 You and Yours program last Friday, I was told that they are acting as a “hub” and partnering up with over 300 other services. Honestly, who thinks we need a £46.3m “hub” ?!!

The best example of a positive outcome of their service that they could describe to the Radio 4 listeners was that of helping a single mother in South Wales work out how she could save £100 per month, which is laudable . Well with a budget of £46.3 m they could give £1,200 to each of 38,583 single mothers and have a direct and measurable impact upon the financial well being of a lot of people. Better that than this cringe making series of adverts.

Neil suggests that the lack of a final fulfilment on the MAS website could help advisers in attracting new customers. I disagree, It will not drive people to seek independent advice because that is a commodity that has to be paid for and MAS has convinced their users that “advice is free”. More importantly, if I want to attract new customers, I am able to do that much more effectively with £1,000 of my own  money than MAS ever can.

MAS represents the typical outcome of placing a levy on firms over which they have no control of the spend. It will continue do what it has done so far but it is highly optimistic to believe that it will benefit the IFA community who are paying for it. It represents the old world view where advisers should only have a role to play and be paid where they implement a product solution. So MAS provides generic advice and then expects the IFA to flog the user a product- what outdated thinking.

If MAS truly provides advice (the word they want to use because they believe their users think that is what they are getting and oh because the Advertising Standards Authority says they can)then they are a competitor. In what strange world should a business be paying the salaries of its competitor offering an alternative free service? The lunatics have definitely taken over this asylum.

Nick Bamford is executive director of Informed Choice

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Comments

There is one comment at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. A good point well made, Mr Bamford. I couldn’t agree more.

    The MAS has been a complete waste of everyones time and resources.

    Not only should it be shut down right away; we should also be given our money back and the directors should be forced to visit each and every IFA in the land and apologise in person; and they should be made to walk; and they should be made to made to wear a dunces hat on the journey; and they should be placed in the stocks in each town and village and have rotten fruit thrown at them; and they should be forced to sell their houses, cars and all possessions and give the proceeds to an IFA benevolent fund.

    Then, and only then, will I be satisfied that justice had been done.

    However, in the meantime if they just stopped stinging me of £1000 a year for nothing…

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