The Money Advice Service referred less than 1 per cent of consumers who visited its website in 2011/12 to a financial adviser.
The MAS’s first annual review, published yesterday, outlines how it is delivering on its key areas of money advice, co-ordinating debt advice and financial education.
Based on a total of 1.1 million website users, the MAS referred around 3,000 people to regulated financial advisers between April 2011 and the end of March 2012, equivalent to 0.3 per cent of all website users.
The MAS’ online health check, which asks consumers basic questions about their attitude to money and provides them with an action plan based on their answers, received 521,668 visits. Of the total visits to the health check just over half, or 302,567 consumers, took away a personal action plan.
The MAS says it is continuing to work with IFAs to develop its service.
The MAS says: “In developing our services we have worked closely with experienced IFAs to contribute to our money advice on, for example, divorce and separation, and to quality assure our online health check. We continue to draw on such expetise.”
The MAS says it is also aware of some IFAs using the health check as part of their own service, by asking prosepective clients to carry out the health check before meeting them for the first time or before an annual review.
Writing for Money Marketing last month, MAS chairman Gerard Lemos (pictured) said he was frustrated that advisers continue to misunderstand MAS’ work.
The service delivered 74,000 face-to-face advice sessions during the year. It says 36 per cent, or 26,640 of those who received face-to-face advice took action based on the information received.
It says of the 84,000 calls handled by the MAS, 49 per cent, or 41,160 took action based on the information received.
An MAS spokeswoman says: “We launched our new, more action-focused website in July, ensuring our advice and tools effectively signpost to other sources of help to support people to take the next steps to manage their money better. Our articles continue to link to IFA portals when appropriate and helpful. We also know that IFAs are the largest users of our annuity tables.
“We expect the number of people we refer to IFA portals to increase substantially as we ramp up the reach of our service to help 1.9m people this year, 5.3m users next year, and more than 11m users by 2016/17.”
The MAS is funded by a statutory industry levy, which went from £43.7m in 2011/12 to £86.8m for 2012/13 to reflect the MAS’ new responsibility for co-ordinating debt advice. The money advice budget, which advisers contribute to, accounts for £46.3m of the total budget.