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MP Mark Garnier: Pressure is on MAS to turn itself around

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Conservative MP and Treasury select committee member Mark Garnier says the “pressure is on” Money Advice Service’s new top team to turn around the organisation in the wake of severe criticism from polititians and industry.

The committee will meet in September and is expected to discuss publishing findings of the inquiry into MAS launched by the Treasury select sub-committee in May 2012. 

Members have criticised MAS’s budget and its business plan with Conservative MP Jesse Norman questioning whether the organisation should exist at all.

MAS chief executive Caroline Rookes took over from Tony Hobman in February and former Life Trust Holdings chief executive Andy Briscoe replaces the current chairman Gerard Lemos in September.

In June, Rookes told the sub-committee she believes MAS has “turned a corner” since she started in the role and sub-committee chair George Mudie said she had done “very well” so far, acknowledging she had “inherited the sins of others”.

Garnier says: “Without a shadow of a doubt the pressure is on for this new team to turn the organisation around. MAS gets a lot of money from the industry and so what is being done about all this criticism is still a fair question.”

He cites MAS’s mortgage calculator and comparison table and its work on a code of practice for providers of financial education in schools as examples of the service “trying to reinvent the wheel”.

He says: “MAS could be a very useful signposting website.  We should be asking whether someone out there already, with a little bit of financial help and some targets, could do a much better job.”

Rookes says: “In tough economic times, we are committed to joining up with partners and other service providers to ensure that consumers access the right advice, wherever and whenever they need it.”

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Comments

There are 4 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Incompetent regulators 23rd August 2013 at 10:41 am

    MAS exists purely for its own staff!

  2. Garnier says: “Without a shadow of a doubt the pressure is on for this new team to turn the organisation around. MAS gets a lot of money from the industry and so what is being done about all this criticism is still a fair question.”
    And what will you, in particular, do about it Mr Garnier, should it not manage to do so?
    Just another lot of hot air and pretence that you are interested in IFAs’ and their miserable existence. Election time must be creeping closer.
    Vote UKIP.

  3. I met Mark Garnier before he was elected and since then he does seem to have made a sincere effort to hold the MAS and the FSA to account for what they do, how they do it and what they charge the industry.

    What I think he didn’t realise until he took office was just how difficult it is to do so because of the various exemptions from accountability that they enjoy, particularly the FSA. As he himself has been forced to admit, the principal obstacle is that whilst the TSC can ask the FSA to do certain things, there’s actually precious little it can do if the FSA takes no notice. As far as the MAS is concerned, the only measure of its success must surely be to contact people who’ve availed themselves of its services a year later and ask them whether ot not they’ve actually implemented the plan put to them, stuck with it and whether or not it’s made any tangible difference. But that doesn’t seem to be something the MAS bothers to do, so just quoting data on the number of people who’ve used the MAS doesn’t tell anyone anything about whether or not it’s been of any real value.

    Lack of accountability is the very core of the problem, which is why APFA should be trying to gain his alliance for the creation of an IROC. Nothing is likely to change unless or until this comes about and the obstacle to that is that it would require major revisions to the FSMA 2000. But Parliament has done as much fiddling with the Act as it’s interested in doing and has now moved on to other things. So whilst the TSC can continue to ask a few penetrating questions, it still has no power to do anything if the answers it receives are unsatisfactory. As a result, the FSA remains free to pursue its own agenda and to charge the industry whatever it feels like without the irksome inconvenience of having to justify anything to anybody, not in any meaningful way anyway. Things are only getting worse, not better.

    Somebody tell me I’m wrong.

  4. Do not be fooled Julian.
    When Chris Leslie of labour called for the FSA to be more accountable, Mark Garnier refused to back him. I am tempted to believe his interest in the RDR was merely a ploy to make advisers think the tories were actually concerned about their treatment, at the hands of the regulator.
    If they are so concerned why not pass an act of parliament and make the FSA/FCA subject to the law of the land the same as the rest of us?
    No man/organisation should be above the law but the present government appears happy with this democratic deficit.

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