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.”
“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.”