MAS eyes adviser directory improvements

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The Money Advice Service plans to roll out a series of improvements to the adviser directory it launched in response to the introduction of pension freedoms in April.

MAS chief executive Caroline Rookes says the organisation is reviewing possible changes to the directory, which will include allowing those listed to amend their own details.

She says: “Our view is that it’s early days with all of these new pensions options, but the directory is being well used and we know from feedback to advisers that people are going to them who perhaps wouldn’t have done previously. People with smaller pension pots, for example.

“There’s a whole raft of changes that we want to make, but basically they are picking up on feedback from the use of the directory to make it easier both form the consumer point of view and the financial advisers’ point of view.”

While 17,500 individuals used the MAS retirement adviser directory between April and June, Rookes was unable to say how many went on to visit a financial adviser.

The MAS will also conclude a study on duplication of its services in November, with Rookes describing previous evaluations as “light-touch”.

Rookes says the MAS is making continued progress against the recommendations of Christine Farnish earlier this year, and has cut its marketing budget by 20 per cent.

Despite the reductions, the MAS reports unique contacts to its website during the period rising 9 per cent to 3.9 million, while total customer contacts increased 12 per cent to 5.6 million.

Rookes says work is still ongoing to build on Farnish’s recommendation to cut duplication of other services, including those available through the private sector.

She says: “I don’t think even Christine [Farnish] would suggest that the team had been able to do that work in depth.

“It was a short study with a very small team and in the time available and with the resource available it just wasn’t possible other than to do a fairly light-touch look at what appeared to be out there.

“Those services may be very good, but we don’t know if they’re only reaching the customers of one organisation or people only living in one area, and there’s also the quality of the product they provide and the key question of how impartial they are. “

The service is also working with stakeholders including Ofsted to build its financial education role, with a broader financial capability strategy due in October.

And, Rookes says, the MAS has a further “very big” partnership in the pipeline with a trade body to boost its work in money advice, although she declines to comment any further.