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Letter: Money Advice Service has a clear plan for the future

In response to your article outlining comments made by the AMI’s Robert Sinclair about the Money Advice Service, I dispute Robert Sinclair’s notion that we “have struggled to get a grip with what it is [we] really want to deliver”.

First, we have already helped more than 2.5 million customers and around 70 per cent of those say we helped them decide on a course of action.

Second, we have a very strong direction for the period ahead. Our business plan, published last month, clearly sets out how we will help people achieve very specific outcomes: manage their debt, save regularly, protect what they own, provide for their dependents and save for retirement. We set out an ambitious target of achieving this in 480,000 cases in the year ahead.

I would also dispute the notion that incorporating financial education into the national curriculum will lead the service to wither on the vine. The proposal to add financial education to the curriculum is hugely welcome and we want to work with partners to make sure that this and other initiatives aimed at younger children transform the financial awareness of tomorrow’s generation.

But with more than half the population saying they have never received financial advice, there is a clear need for the advice we provide.

I hope Robert Sinclair and his members will join us as we press forward to achieve our shared vision of a UK population that is more confident and adept at managing its money.

Caroline Rookes,
chief executive,
Money Advice Service


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There are 11 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Hogwash, cobblers and crap.

    If the MAS has “already helped” (at our expense) 2.5m customers, then why have such a vanishingly minute percentage of them been referred to an IFA?

    Is part of the “help” provided by the MAS teaching such people, whose financial planning is clearly either in a mess or non-existent, to become overnight DIY financial planners? Of course it isn’t, nor could it ever be.

    To such people, the MAS should be saying This service is free to you because it’s funded by IFA’s. Go seek one out. Your initial consultation is likely to be free of either cost of obligation. Any costs thereafter will be clearly explained and they can probably be built into whatever protection or savings plan you decide to commit money to.

    Caroline Rookes’ use of sanctimonious platitudes such as “shared vision” is patently disingenuous. Oh yes, I note the continued mis-use of the term advice (“that we provide”). Ms Rookes ~ the MAS is an unregulated provider of information and guidance. It is NOT an advisory organisation beyond advising people that they very probably need regulated financial advice from a qualified and experienced financial adviser.

    I don’t suppose there’s the slightest prospect of APFA doing anything about such blatant misrepresentation of status?

  2. This is simply a job protectionism program on the part of Ms Rookes ! It is impossible for her to know the ‘outcome’ of her organisations ‘advice’ so she can make up any number she likes. Conversations without action or follow up are simply conversations

    Ms Rookes ‘bigging herself up’ while she has a job is understandable.

  3. How long has this waste of space organisation been running? Only now are they attempting ( £50+ million later ) to put together a plan.

    Makes Norman Wisdom look like Obi Wan.

  4. We do not have a shared vision ms rookes.
    The only vision we have is that those who use the mas will pay for it themselves, through taxes. That way, it will cease to be another unelected, unaccountable quango.
    We will never be on the side of mas, as we are forced to pay for something we have no stake in.

  5. Guy Shone of MAS was on BBC news this morning, saying that the government is worried that people cannot access financial advice and that there is an advice gap, now that the commission ban is making financial advice too costly for the majority.
    According to Guy, the MAS will fill this gap that has been created.
    How will you do that GUY, once advisers have finally been annihilated and there is no one left to fund your free service?
    Apart from which, Guy also showed a complete lack of understanding of what most advisers do.

  6. Dear Ms Rookes,

    I’m afraid that your corporate speak and publicity jargon fall rather flat when you so clearly demonstrate that you don’t even know what service it is that you provide.

    “….there is a clear need for the advice we provide”.

    Might I point out that you are not authorised nor qualified to provide advice. Your service – such as it is – provides guided information.

    As such I wouldn’t be quite so sanguine if I were you about the efficacy of your service. Just because people may log on doesn’t mean there was a successful outcome and even if people did embark on some sort of action it is far too early to assert whether or not it has been successful.

    If many practitioners were to judge, DIY financial planning usually leads to tears and eventually they find their way to an adviser after having lost or wasted money.

  7. MAS provide GENERIC ADVICE, that is…Pay off your debts as quickly as possible, manage your income so you dont need to borrow, put some money aside so you can access it in an emergency, consider enrolling in your work pension scheme etc etc. This is the advice that many people need to get out of debt and into the black. Over the years these clients will hopefully build wealth and be in a poition to invest in years to come. Currently our country is saddled with debt and any help people can get is valuble.

  8. @ Matty
    Why should we pay for it?

  9. Misguided assumptions 30th April 2013 at 4:20 pm

    I fear that what MAS and perhaps other govt and/or regulatory agencies are not grasping is that you can dish out all the generic advice you like, (most of which as outlined by Matty is actually just common sense rather than “advice”) but unless you “motivate” most people to take action AND show them how AND then implement it for them then they wont ever do it on their own, however sensible they might be. Theres always something more pressing. Good IFAs are good motivators, as well as advisers.
    I suspect that MAS will only “help” those who are already motivated to help themselves, which frankly wont be changing much at all in big picture terms

  10. NOT clear that they value professional advice at a 30th April 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Having had a quick look at MAS, when discussing options for people to get retirement advice, they say in respect of financial advisers:

    Following new rules introduced from 31 December 2012, you will need to pay fees for financial advice (not commission). These fees will vary by adviser and are likely to be around £75-£250 an hour.

    NO mention anywhere that these “fees” could be be taken from any product they buy? How many clients will therefore decide to go pay for advice when the next section then says:

    There are many aspects of pensions saving that you are likely to be able to do yourself with some careful research using the Money Advice Service.

    ……implying that theyd be better off using MAS unless they are at retirement”.

    If I was the consumer, I’d assume I was therefore fine to DIY my pension.
    So glad Im part funding this.

  11. There is a clear confusion at MAS as to what is advice and what is guidance.

    MAS despite its name does not provide advice it merely provides guidance which was freely available on a number of websites anyway.

    What proof does MAS have that they have actually helped anyone. To say you have decided on a course of action and doing it are two different things and a visit to a website doesn’t mean it actually helped the person visiting it.

    If a private sector business came out with these unproven statements they would be hung out to dry by Which? etc.

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