View more on these topics

MAS chief: We know we need to do more on adviser referrals

The Money Advice Service says it needs to provide greater clarity to consumers on the difference between its own service and regulated financial advice.

Speaking to Money Marketing, MAS chief executive Caroline Rookes says the organisation is making changes to its website so that consumers “do not confuse our advice with regulated financial advice”.

The MAS has commissioned Financial Services Consumer Panel member Teresa Fritz to lead a project on improving referrals from the service’s website to financial advisers.

Rookes says the project is still ongoing and will need to take account of last month’s Budget announcement that all DC pension scheme members will receive face-to-face guidance at the point of retirement from April next year.

Fritz is expected to set out her recommendations on boosting referrals in the summer.

Rookes says: “Teresa is still considering the more fundamental steps as to how we can refer people to financial advisers where appropriate in simpler ways.

“But we have agreed to take some short-term steps such as clarifying some of the information around financial advice and financial advisers.

“We want to look at terminology so that as far as possible consumers do not confuse our advice with regulated financial advice.

“We want to make it clear to people what financial advice is for and how they can access it. Some of that exists now on our website but we recognise the information is not as clear and accessible as it could be.”

The MAS website currently includes links to several adviser directories, including Unbiased.co.uk and Vouched For, but not in prominent positions on the site.

In January Unbiased.co.uk called on the MAS to white label an adviser search function on its website to boost referrals to advisers.

Rookes adds the MAS will have a role to play in the Government’s at-retirement guidance service, but is unlikely to be given responsibility for the whole service.

She says: “I think the MAS will have a role to play, as will The Pensions Advisory Service and the regulated advice community.

“What we have got to do over the next few months is work out who is best placed to provide what. We provide quite a bit of advice on the run-up to retirement, but TPAS has staff trained to give more specific advice on pensions.

“It is unlikely we would be given the responsibility for the whole service, as TPAS has to play a role. We have all got to work together.”

This week, MAS confirmed its budget for 2014/15 will be £81.1m, up from £78.3m for 2013/14.

This is made up of a £43m budget for money advice, down from £43.8m last year, and a £38.1m budget for debt advice, up from £34.5m last year.

Newsletter

News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up

Comments

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

  1. There should be a change of name for a start – The Money Guidance Service – how can they use the word ‘advice’ (with a capital ‘A’ too! What is that all about??!!) when they do not give advice. Their TV and Radio adverts state that they provide ‘advice’. They should have a disclaimer that states they do NOT give regulated advice, their ‘guidance’ is NOT regulated by the FCA and NOT covered by the FSCS. The MAS are completely flying in the face of the regulations we all have to abide by – it is a joke.
    The regulators should be embarrassed that they are letting this go on right under their noses, especially when it has been brought to their attention by the adviser community. Its a disgrace.

  2. The first and most important change they need to make is removing the word ‘advice’ from their name. Replace it with ‘guidance’ or ‘information’. No doubt that would cost many millions to implement, but it would be a good step in the right direction and might even garner support from some advisers. Not that I expect them to survive the government review.

  3. Why just remove the word ‘Advice’? It would save a great deal of money if they just removed themselves completely without waiting for the government review.

  4. But they do give advice. Its not ‘regulated’ advice but it is advice.

    Many consumers, especially those who are using the MAS wont understand or care about the different definitions or adaptations of ‘advice’ as those using financial advisers would.

    I dont think FSCS really comes into it when the majority of the advice is about debt repayment and basic fianancial planning (without products).

Leave a comment