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MAS to launch retirement adviser directory

The Money Advice Service is looking to launch a retirement adviser directory as it admits that it has not signposted to advisers well enough in the past.

To be considered for inclusion advice firms will have to be able to show they specialise in retirement advice and agree to take clients no matter how small their pension pots.

MAS published a consultation on the plan this morning and if it goes ahead the criteria for inclusion will be decided by a panel of industry and consumer representatives. But MAS also wants to develop a way of comparing what advisers will charge so those using the service can compare advice firms on cost. The service will be in place by April 2015.

Speaking to Money Marketing, MAS chief executive Caroline Rookes says website content will also be revised to better indicate to users when they may need regulated advice.

She says: “We feel we have not explained to people the circumstances when regulated advice is worth having and the protections and costs that might come with it and we should make that clearer. This would be a directory of advisers who specifically deal with retirement, that are prepared to deal with people no matter how small the funds and where it is easy for people to make comparisons between advisers.”

Apfa director general Chris Hannant says the directory is necessary and that improvements in handing users of the service over to regulated advisers is welcome.

He adds it is important advisers can indicate they only want to deal with certain sorts of customers. “It will mean a wider choice of firms on the datbase but it may mean certain types of customer the choice of firm is more restricted,” he says.

“Because advisers have different ways of charging I am not sure you can just choose one metric. They should be able to describe their pricing structure in their way and people can then work out how that applies to them.”

Rookes admits coming up with a “standard format” for comparing adviser charges will be a “big ask”. “We will need to work out a way that can be simplified and compared, and that is part of the consultation,” she says.

MPs have criticised the MAS for duplicating the work of existing bodies and there are already other adviser directories like Unbiased and Vouchedfor as well as Pick-A, which provides details of retirement advisers and costs. 

The Pensions Income Choice Association agreed in January to change the way its directory described advised services.

In March’s Budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced that from next April people would be able to take their entire pension pot aged 55 and that they would get “free, impartial face to face” guidance when they came to retirement.

Last week, Money Marketing revealed Government is looking to give providers a role in delivering the guidance guarantee. 

Rookes says this would be “more complicated” than a fully independent body delivering it but if the job was handed to providers they would find a way of doing it.

She adds: “I cannot believe we won’t have a role of some sort. Even if the guidance guarantee is given to providers we would still provide our guidance because that’s what we do.”

Rookes says guidance will only tell people the “choices” they have to make and that this directory will give whoever ends up providing the guidance somewhere to send people if it looks like they need regulated advice.

She says: “This directory is just the start. It may be once this is all in place and if we see it is effective we might look at other parts of the market.”

Caroline Rookes: In her own words

On the retirement adviser directory:

“It will be a directory of advisers that are in consumers’ area, that cover retirement. It will provide them with advice face-to-face or via a webchat and they can see what the charges are.”

On not coming under Freedom of Information Act:

“I wasn’t aware of that. We are pretty transparent in what we do. I am not aware we have hidden anything from you.”

On the upcoming independent review of MAS:

“I do not think it will be a stay of execution. I do not think there is any question that we will cease to exist. The review will confirm the importance of the role we have and the progress we have made in delivering against it.”

On providers giving pensions guidance:

“There are ways of doing it to ensure the guidance is impartial but obviously the picture is much more complicated because they are selling products. If they were given a job to do they would find ways of doing it.”

On bonuses:

“We will pay bonuses where people exceed their targets and objectives. We have had a very good year so I imagine we will pay some.”

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Comments

There are 12 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Good idea apart from the “cost” comparison. Why not base it on the “value of any advice”. However if it opens doors to more people taking advice then that is a positive move to be applauded. The sceptic in me feels that it really is amazing what can happen when your organisation is under the cosh and potentially about to be hung out to dry in public. This should have been one of their statutory objectives from the
    get-go. Better late than never

  2. Martin Bamford 5th June 2014 at 10:18 am

    Let me get this straight. First we have to pay for MAS and now they want us to take on clients regardless of the size of their pension funds? Should they really be spending more of our money, launching an inherently flawed adviser directory, whilst subject to an independent review by the Treasury, who previously branded them ‘not fit for purpose’ and gave them a ‘stay of execution’ pending the findings of this review?

  3. This is a welcome step and well overdue, if MAS can listen to small independent advisory practices rather than the big providers only, I am sure that this service could be developed into a worthy service.

    The real issue here is can MAS listen to the legitimate concerns of regulated advisers who often feel that they have been undermined by the regulator and indeed government by the use of poorly thought out language.

    E.g. Guidance versus Advice debate.

    And not forgetting the word FREE!

  4. Neil Gillibrand 5th June 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Any size pot is fine with me, as long as they’re happy to pay the minimum fee.

  5. Billy Burrows 5th June 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Perhaps it is time The Money Advice Service changes its name to The Money Guidance Service

    Then it might do what it says on the tin!!!

  6. @ Peter

    MAS; also need to distinguish between regulated and UN-regulated advice ?

    I see they make no mention of it, which is quite strange as they offer neither Advice or indeed is it regulated

    They do however offer un-regulated guidance with a page disclaimer to boot !! which proves even more the lack of conviction in their service, why put a page long disclaimer if they are that, confident they are offering a valuable compliant service ? we would be hung drawn and quartered if we had that on the bottom of our letterheads ?

    Agreed a small (dolly) step in the right direction, however, enquiries should be filtered and directed to an “IFA near you” system !

  7. Paul Molyneux 5th June 2014 at 4:45 pm

    I am not sure why MAS want or even should incur the cost and responsibility for creating an adviser directory when a number already exist. More cost for us to bear no doubt and I would like to know just how much they expect to spend and the cost benefit analysis?

    I am a Personal Finance Society member and I was delighted to read the announcement on MM yesterday that they are about to launch the largest accredited adviser directory in the UK – my understanding is that consumers will be able to search by specialist need areas such as retirement. I also subscribe to unbiased as I am an IFA, although I understand that Restricted advisers are also on unbiased now.

  8. Julian Stevens 5th June 2014 at 10:32 pm

    Given that advisers have been forced to fund the MAS from the word go, for Caroline Rookes only now to be admitting that it’s done nothing of any significance in terms of referring users our way is both a scandal and an insult. The MAS has just taken our money and set its own agendas without a thought for those who fund it. A pox on the lot of you.

  9. Philip Castle 6th June 2014 at 6:49 am

    Sorry Martin Bamford, I disagree, I think this is a sensible move and the quotes from C Rooker are telling as other reporting gave a different & negative spin.
    I agree with Peter Herd and as to a new directory, I can understand why separate from commercial ones and if ALL advisers were members of ONE professional body, then the PFS or an IFS directory with the MGS (not MAS) controlling one tick box would be a costless solution, i.e do you subscribe to MGS pension terms of at retirement initial at our cost guidance consultation for all pots &ALL guidance meetings recorded as sound files to demonstrate advice NOT given and NO contract until FEE paid.
    It really could be simple and cost effective.

  10. Martin Bamford 6th June 2014 at 9:04 am

    @Philip Castle

    “It really could be simple and cost effective.”

    But because MAS is behind it, there is absolutely no chance it will be.

  11. I think everybody in financial services would like to do away with the scammers and endless amounts of marketing firms who are advertising financial advice when in reality selling leads on to financial advisers.

    What is truly shameful is that the regulator has done nothing to crack down on this practice and it is no wonder why the consumer is confused about advice and guidance when simple marketing rules are broken and daily basis by unregulated firms.

    The one thing that all financial advisers should agree with is an effective registry provided by the regulator or statutory body like MAS. The key to the success is in the construction of the directory as it should not only include price but also include levels of service, may be complaints history, and testimonials. This would give the consumer information they need to make a sensible choice when appointing a REGULATED financial adviser.

    We can only improve financial services by coming up with sensible suggestions instead of just moaning about what’s wrong all the time.

  12. It is clear Money Advice Service ( the clue is in the name ) was set up by the FCA and their owners the CON Servative – CO alition – to provide advice to those in need. They have underestimated the numbers of people who require FREE ADVICE – there’s MORE ! wait till they get requests about Auto Enrolment – from employees about their employers scheme . . . . . the great news is it is a means of getting into Employers . . .and to service Employers . . . .leaving the employees with nest friends life and stranded life – administrative nightmares. Employers who wish advice will request advice about their own scheme – but are unlikely to provide information to employees – I have already had many asking for information or guidance . . . .I refer them to MAS . . . .” Ma knows “.

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