The Money Advice Service has claimed it “often” refers web users to advisers and says it wants to work with IFAs to help fill the post-RDR advice gap.
In August, advisers hit out at MAS after its annual review revealed it referred just 3,000 of its 1.1 million website users to regulated financial advisers between April 2011 and the end of March 2012, equivalent to 0.3 per cent of all users.
Speaking at a fringe event on financial education at the Labour autumn conference in Manchester today, MAS executive director Mark Flander said: “The RDR is important. We already see there are 20 million people who do not know where to turn to for advice, which is a lot, and we are aiming to reach 11 million in a couple of years time, but that still leaves many others.
“People go to a lot of different sources for advice. At MAS, on our website in particular, it will often say that if you do not know what you are doing then talk to someone who does. Actually an IFA who can give regulated advice, which is the distinction with MAS because we give generic advice, so go and speak to one of them. It is an issue, there is a gap and it is going to take all of us collectively to help fill it.”
Flander also defended MAS against criticism from the Treasury select committee, saying it is “doing something right”. He said MAS is working with the University of Bristol to study how it can change behaviour and it is currently working on a UK financial capability strategy.
A similar strategy was undertaken by the FSA five years ago and MAS is now opening it up to consultation.
Flander said: “We have a lot to do, particularly around behaviour change. It is very difficult to achieve but we see life events as really important such as having a baby, going to university, losing a job. We are looking at each of those as a journey that someone goes through.
“We are not the answer to everything and see it as a partnership approach with organisation such as the Personal Finance Education Group and Citizens Advice. We are currently working on a UK strategy for financial capability. The FSA did one about five years ago and we are refreshing it so we want everyone to be engaged with it. We will be having an open consultation where everyone can put forward their view because we don’t have all the answers.”