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MAS: We can work with IFAs to fill advice gap

Money Advice Service

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.”


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There are 16 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. What makes you think they will want to work with you?

  2. Are you SERIOUS? 2nd October 2012 at 2:36 pm

    ‘We will be having an open consultation where everyone can put forward their view because we don’t have all the answers.’

    Hmm. And an unending amount of other people’s money to not have any answers! Way to go! Fantastic!

  3. Good to see that MAS wants to work with IFAs – it might just be the making of MAS. IFAs have a huge amount to offer MAS and a bit of pro-bono help from IFAs is sure to pay dividends in increasing the current woeful referral rate of 0.3%.

    The present hostility between MAS and advisers does no one any favours.

  4. Re Good to see @2.43

    Pro Bono? WE are already paying for this fiasco.

  5. charles Mclaughlin 2nd October 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Thank God I am retired. Am I being silly or is MAS with the fantastic pay being received by its boss just a way by the current Government to circumvent IFA’s bypass CAB and avoid funding it and establish jobs for those who live by the motto it is better that we know the right people rather than we know what is best for people. Usually called jobs for the boys!!!!!!

  6. “The Money Advice Service wants to work with IFAs to help fill the post-RDR advice gap”. I think it a great shame they have not engaged in some practical ways that could have deflected some of the rightfully aimed flak.

    A relationship with ‘Unbiased’ would be a positive start.

  7. The key point is that despite its title MAS doesn’t actually give advice. It’s call centre is woeful and web tools quite pointless. It shoud really be set up to give basic regulated advice along with a cuttting edge planning tool, but I expect it’ll be closed down before either ever happens.

    Mark Flanders is coming coming out with the usual meaningless corporate gobbledygook. I can save him a lot of time an money re: studying how to change publc behaviour – simply give them a useful service they want!! the success of Hargreaves Lansdown is testament to this.

  8. Financial Capability strategy – industry spent years consulting with government then the FSA and now it seems MAS. Yet we have got nowhere becuase ultimately nobody want to pay even the relatvely small cost of funding somthing like PFEG.

  9. The problem many IFAs have with the MAS is that they are unhappy with the actual implementation of it, and the same can be said for the RDR. We are seemingly never consulted about anything which will involve us spending our money. We are treated as idiots and performing monkeys whilst the posh boys at the top keep themselves employed spending our cash and trying to fix things which aren’t broken.

  10. This is just mind boggling. MAS and the regulators, MPs etc admit that RDR will lead to lots of people no longer will receive advise and that there will be a big gap to fill. Please remind me again why they all think fee paying is such a great idea?

  11. Agree with most above, so who have you given the enquiries too? Obviously Common purpose graduates and the allegedly corrupt A4E, the MAS makes me sick using IFA MONEY to put IFAS out of business, and employing none regulated and none qualified Advisers to give (generic) advise. Which Christmas tree do you think we fell off?

    Folks look up COMMON PURPOSE on google tie it in with
    FSA, MAS and A4E I am not a conspiracy theorist, just someone of 65 years old who has been shocked by the underhanded Regulators and Government quangos attempting to force IFAs out of business.

  12. Behavioral change,but not as know it-Jim!
    This could have been straight from Star Trek-‘we are going where no man has gone before-not sure where it is but with your money we will get there!!
    I read with disbelief the words of this idiot-does he honestly expect anyone to believe that they know what they are doing?
    -make up your mind-do you go now,or later!
    Stop trying to ‘clingon’

  13. It is obvious the RDR was set in motion to get rid of a major portion of the IFA sector, in the main those whose firms are essentially transaction based and who derive remuneration from same.

    The Proposal that IFAs give their time free of charge “pro bono” to timewasters and people with either no money or no common sense makes me heave with laughter.

    I doubt if anyone who came into this industry, either via initial life office sales forces or directly into IFA practices did it because they wanted to work for nothing.

    An IFA Business is set up to trade for profit, to maintain solvency, create jobs, provide clients with unbiased financial advice on regulated products that meet their needs and can be demonstrated as suitable and likely to meet their expectations, whether it be for protection, saving for retirement or investment and last but not least, to provide its owners with a living.

    There was no sensible discussion about how RDR would impact on the consumer, the assumptions used to justify the wholesale cull of transactional based IFA’s was poorly researched and the alleged consumer data these changes to working practices and methods of remuneration was a far as we can see non existent and an invention of the twisted minds who dreamed up this farcical change to our industry.

    It’s a bit like telling the car industry that you are going to ban petrol and diesel as fuel for cars, so you have 2 yrs to come up with an alternative fuel that all cars can be converted to. (was it really 2yrs ago when the manure hit the fan on the RDR proposals) and if you don’t sort it out, we will no longer allow you to build cars.

    Sound familiar. Good plan. That should cure global warming.

    If Jeff Prestridge of the MoS in his weekly diatribe, now laments on how the less well off consumers are no longer going to be able to seek IFA services because of the cost of fee based advice, then something really is awry and needs sorting quickly.

    RDR, in the middle of the worst recession and downturn for decades, has added an extra layer of stress to our lives, which no one should have to put up with.

    The FSA has lost its way, it was supposed to regulate the industry, not ruin it, the newly formed and soon to be forced upon us FCA, is peopled and led by the same mindset.

    What hope for our economy, if those tasked with improving it do the opposite.

  14. If the FSA were asked to come up with a plan to deal with obesity, the solution would be to ban food.

  15. So the FSA/FCA/MAS are now admitting that RDR will create an advice gap and want to work with us?

    Cheeky bar stewards comes to mind.

  16. “an open consultation”, eh? So that’ll be different from the FSA’s closed consultations, will it?

    I imagine a common theme of many of the responses to any consultation initiated by the MAS will be to ask for an explanation of just what the MAS does, at considerable expense to those forced to fund it, that differs from what the CAB and many other consumer counselling agencies do already. To claim partnership with organisations such as the CAB is a joke. The MAS is a privately funded subversion of much of what the CAB does already and CAB’s up and down the country are complaining loudly about a slow but relentless starvation of funding.

    Is an organisation such as the MAS really necessary to tell people that if they take out a mortgage they ought to have life insurance on that debt?

    Or that if they have children, they ought to have life insurance for family protection?

    Or that if they don’t embark on some sort of regular long term savings programme, their twilight years are likely to be blighted by miserable impecunity?

    Or that buying on credit things that they don’t really need and/or can’t really afford is a pretty sure route to unmanageable debt?

    Yes, it’s a matter of education, but it should be part of the school curriculum, not trying to advise adults whose lives are already in a possibly intractable financial mess because no one taught them at an early age the do’s and don’ts of personal financial management.

    The acid question has to be: Has the MAS, since it evolved from the CFEB, made any appreciable difference to public attitudes towards managing their finances any better? All the evidence to date suggests not. It’s just spent vast amounts of OPM getting pretty well nowhere with what’s supposed to be its primary mission objective. “Reaching 11 million people” means NOTHING. All that really matters is how many of those 11 million people actually DO something. On that, the MAS appears to have made virtually no headway and nor does it seem to have any sort of plan for how to make it happen.

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