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MAS chief: We will do more to signpost to IFAs

Money Advice Service chief executive Caroline Rookes says the service will do more next year to signpost people to regulated IFAs.

Speaking to Money Marketing today after the release of the organisation’s 2014/15 business plan, Rookes said there are plans in place to include more IFA signposting through its services.

Last month, a National Audit Office report called on MAS to build relationships with regulated advisers when needed.

Rookes says: “When I first arrived I was conscious of the concern from IFAs about their role and how we would relate to them.

“We absolutely want people to seek regulated advice where it is appropriate. We need to ensure everything on our site, and on the telephone and face-to-face services, points people to professional advisers and makes it easy to get that advice. That is what we are looking at.”

MAS has reduced its budget by 1 per cent, from £78.3m in 2013/14 to £77.5m in 2014/15 but Rookes said she could not commit to future cuts.

She said the organisation will face increased demand from universal credit and long-term care funding reforms in coming years but it will aim to make further reductions.

Rookes says the organisation will always need a minimum marketing spend to spread its name.

She says: “We can develop our tools until the cows come home but we need people to know that we exist. We need them to come to our service. There will always be a minimum spend on raising awareness and beyond.”

Rookes also defended her £140,000 a year salary after Treasury sub-committee chair George Mudie, who led a damning inquiry into the service, said it was “still too high”.

In the MPs’ report MAS also came under heavy criticism over its high executive pay. Former chief executive Tony Hobman was paid £350,000 a year.

MAS strategy and innovation director Mark Fiander, and marketing and service delivery director Karen Broughton, are both on a base salary of £160,000.

Rookes said: “I do not have anything to do with my pay scale but if you look at it against peers at the FCA and other organisations then it would not be very high. It is for the FCA and Treasury to decide what they pay me and I am paid a lot less than my predecessor.”

Caroline Rookes on…

Her £140,000 salary:

“If you look at it against peers at the FCA and other organisations then it wouldn’t be very high.”

MAS’ £13.5m marketing budget:

”We can develop our tools until the cows come home but we need people to know that we exist.”

Future MAS budgets:

”I wouldn’t anticipate we will be growing and we may well be able to reduce year on year but I would not want to make a commitment to it.”

IFA signposting:

“We need to ensure everything on our site, on the telephone and at our face to face service points people to professional advisers and makes it easy to get that advice.”

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Comments

There are 13 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Well if the MAS really are going to signpost, then lets hope that it is front and centre with a HUGE ARROW rather than tucked away in the small print. MAS is an info-site and part educational, it should concentrate on getting those basics right. Frankly as a quango, surely they could just put a banner on any Govt site, the regulator sites etc… why do they also need to spend vast sums on traditional advertising that doesn’t work?

    Its always amusing to see how people defend their own salaries, but is this job really any bigger or tougher than a politicians? or Consultant Doctor?.. Head Teacher?.. once the basics of financial services, financial planning and financial products are up on the site, you could spend considerably less (£60k pa) to simply update the information with the tax changes… outlined, scripted and ordained by those other Govt organisations, HM Treasury, HMRC, FCA.

  2. So now they are trying bribery to win us over. Pathetic.

  3. Like many contributors, I am far from convinced by MAS but I suppose that’s irrelevant, no one will give a rip about what most of us think anyway. However I’m a little concerned now by the description of signposting. Having been an IFA for only 21 years until RDR came in – I was forced to become Restricted owing to the fact that I don’t wish to recommend or advise on EIS’s, VCT’s or Structured Products and I use a single Wrap platform for my investment administration. When Caroline Rookes says ‘we need to ensure everything…. points people to professional advisers’ and that’s described as IFA Signposting, where does that leave businesses like mine? I wouldn’t expect much and don’t even need referrals from MAS thank you very much, but on principle, if I’m paying the same levy towards MAS as my eminently superior IFA friends and colleagues, and I have to have the same qualifications as them, carry out the same annual CPD, have the same fundamental capital adequacy, pay the same fees to the FCA and FSCS and of course we are ‘all’ fee only today for investments (and I have been for the last 8 years by the way), why would potential enquiries only be passed to IFA’s. On one hand she refers to ‘professional advisers’ and on the other she refers to ‘IFA’s’. Maybe I’m being over sensitive on this as I’m no longer an IFA, but like I say it’s principle.

    TAF – I’m not being racist here, some of my best friends are Welsh!, just please Treat ‘Advisers’ Fairly!

  4. Can I opt out please ? I will keep my money and find my own clients thank you very much for your kind offer !!

  5. Same as DH and I understand John Reilly’s concern that MAS confuse authorised advisers and the title IFA. What hope when the head doesn’t understand her own market!

    And what about MAS SIG boosting to ?which . Who authorised that? Surely they have an audit trail of who did the text and who signed it off on the website? Was there a back hander? Has it been investigated? Will we ever know?

  6. Elsewhere, the MAS is reported to have claimed to be “leaders and partners across the advice sector”. Where is the line between regulated and unregulated advice? And just what percentage of its 15m “contacts” has the MAS referred to regulated advisers over the past 12 months? Unless that percentage is anything other than minuscule (which, anecdotally, is exactly what it seems to have been), on just what basis can the MAS claim to be “partners” across the advice sector?

    Will the MAS abjure the commonly reported practice of its presenters at road shows slagging off regulated advisers as high-charging rip-off merchants?

    Rookes claims the MAS will always need a minimum marketing spend to spread its name. The big question on this point, though, is whether that money is being spent in a way that gets the most value out of the effort that they make.

    And, as ever, why are those who are NOT responsible for people mis-managing their personal finances and getting into difficulty forced to fund an agency providing debt on such matters?

    Without specific and unambiguous answers to these questions, all the rest is just waffle and sound bites.

  7. Like DH and Philip, I am not in business as some form of ‘gospel spreader’ with a big agenda; I work for my clients (paying or otherwise), that’s all!

    I see my contribution to this body as being a charitable donation. It brings me nothing and the fact that it may benefit a wider audience to my financial detriment, because of some tacit link to financial advice is quite frankly a nonsense. But Government know that and don’t care, so we just have to suck it up and get on with it!

    Merry Christmas everyone, BTW!!

  8. Why now? Is it to do with the claim that the MAS is not fit for purpose and should be disbanded?

    This last minute conversion (on the road to wherever) involving signposting is a desperate measure to curry favour and gain support thus assuring a highly placed person that the associated remuneration is not lost.

  9. I wrote Caroline Rookes about six months ago when she announced that she was looking for strategic partners to provide mass advice e.g. banks and building societies. I like many IFA’s at the time were furious that there was no attempt on behalf of MAS to engage with IFA’s and made several suggestions on how MAS could engage with IFA’s. Needless to say I had a one line response from a secretary stating that when they get round to engaging they will put me on top of the list.

    Still waiting!!!!!

    It seems to me that this non accountable organisation seems to either want to build relationships with failed organisations or organisations that do not carry the correct level authorisation. E.g. lead generation sites like unbiased.com or MSE who believe or not and not authorised and regulated to give financial advice.

    If we cannot get the basics right what hope is there for an effective service that can provide high quality advice and act within the CURRENT RULES!!!!!

    Needless to say the regulator seems to want to use FSMA 2000 & 2012 when it suits itself and politely ignore authorisation rules for its own purpose. Funny that.

  10. @john Reilly

    Its very simple why they refer to IFA’s, IFAs are independent and non independent advisers are linked to a company/companies…therefore any referral to them is a biased link and in the benefit of that company.

    It would be like referring everyone to Capita or G4S etc…

  11. Kevin I think you are getting mixed up with pre-RDR tied advisers.

    Someone can be independent of providers but as stated above if they do not provide advice on certain products they can no longer class themselves as independent even when charging fees.

  12. @Kevin Smith

    Merry Christmas to you Kevin! Please tell me you are being sarcastic though !

    If you are, very good you got me there but if not please illustrate who I’m linked to and what the bias is? I get no financial advantage from anyone, I can use any product or company for investment, protection etc that I like. I’m not ‘tied’ to anyone. I just don’t wish to advise clients on QROPS, EIS, VCT, Structured Products and for simple administration purposes I choose to use a single wrap platform. I can use others if I want to though. Most IFA’s that I know do pretty well what I do, but based on the advice I received from my compliance support providers, it seemed that the only direction I could take was to declare my self as slightly damaged, sorry restricted, but I am certainly not Tied, which is the definition that you are applying. Unless its in the categories I have mentioned above I can do exactly what you can do, assuming of course you are Independent. Unfortunately Restricted can cover a wide variation of business models, but please don’t get me started on that! Merry Christmas everyone and lets hope 2014 is good for our clients – even mine – poor disadvantaged victims though they are!!

  13. Kevin_ Restricted advisers can include Pension Transfer Specialists, pensioin onky advisers, investment onky advisers and stockbrokers who advise on Nothing but that. That doesn’t make them tied to one company/company. My firm is Independent, but we refer to restricted firms for specialisms like Occuoationak pension transfers and stockbroking.

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