I am pretty confident that most of us would agree that we need to educate members of our society about the importance of money management and planning for their financial future. After all most IFAs deliver loads of education, information and guidance as well as financial advice, financial planning and investment advice, as part of what they do.
At some level or other we are all signed up to the delivery of education to the public. I also suspect that few of us would argue that such education is vitally important to the young people of this country.
However, isn’t that best delivered through the formal education system which might them be considered independent and without bias, rather than through the financial services sector itself? Why am I so disillusioned by what is on offer from the Money Advice Service? It sort of sounds just like what it is needed and yet it is failing at every level.
It alienated the vast majority of advisers with its first foray into the advertising space. Claiming to offer advice (which it never did and still doesn’t) when what it offered was at best information and guidance.
Then claiming it was free when the whole regulatory thrust has been to explain to consumers that advice has never been free. Talk about contradictory.
What could be a worse red rag to a bull than to then claim that its advice was refreshing because it was free! Who was responsible for this nonsense and, if they are still employed, why are they?
There are any number of websites that are accessible to the public that can provide information and guidance and many of them to a much higher standard than the MAS website. It is trying to do something in an already crowded space that at least one respected commentator has described as “crap”.
Do we really need, in this time of austerity, to spend £19 million on an advertising budget that will fundamentally fail to change all but a few people’s behaviour?
If it were public funds that were being wasted this way, I would be fuming. It is however my money that is being wasted and therefore I am apoplectic with rage. I feel like writing to the FSA and demanding my money back, for all the good that would do.
The latest advertising offering is at best tacky and at worst cringe worthy. Is our hard earned money really being wasted on this nonsense? Did the senior management of the Quango really fail to listen to the feedback they got from the Treasury select committee?
Perhaps we should expect little more from an overpaid bunch but sadly because we are paying for this nonsense I believe we have every right to expect something better – but I am not holding my breath.
What is particularly galling is that they never appear to have learned about the need for all objectives to be measured with specific metrics, so for the latest TV and press advertising the Chairman of MAS states that this campaign is designed to “shake people out of their money slumber and prompt them to manage their finances well”. How many brain cells does it take to understand that it will not achieve this kind of politically correct nonsense?
MAS, I want my money back. I certainly don’t want to continue paying for this misguided nonsense. I suspect many others feel the same.
Martin Bamford is managing director of Informed Choice