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Money Advice Service looks to partner with banks to bridge advice gap

MAS chief executive Caroline Rookes

The Money Advice Service is looking to grow its partnerships with banks to bridge the advice gap created by the latest high profile exits from mass market advice.

Speaking to Money Marketing, MAS chief executive Caroline Rookes said she was keen to expand the service’s reach through the charitable and public sectors, and through the private sector via the banks.

She says that in a year’s time she would like to have “gone even further to have established the MAS as a household name and as a source of unbiased, free advice”.

Rookes says: “The sort of advice the banks have moved out of is paid-for advice. I would hope we could go as far as we can in non-regulated advice and refer people where they need it on to those advisers that provide regulated advice.

“Certainly one of my objectives is to work more closely with the advice sector to see what we can do to address any gaps that exist.

”At the end of the day we have to bear in mind we cannot offer regulated advice, so there is that boundary between what we can do and these organisations can do, but we can look to go as far towards the boundary as possible without breaching that, and working collaboratively to provide as much help as we can.”

Rookes says the MAS already has partnerships with the banks, including a recent partnership with Barclays on Isa information, and work with Royal Bank of Scotland on financial education.

She adds: “We do work with the banks and we will look to work as closely as we can. Everyone shares the same objective that people understand more about their financial affairs and can manage them. It is in everybody’s interests to deliver that. The banks are an obvious partnership for us.”

The MAS revealed today over 2 million people used the service in the year to the end of March, up 62 per cent from 1.3 million MAS users in 2011/12. MAS had an annual target of reaching 1.9 million users for 2012/13.

Between April 2012 and March 2013, the MAS delivered 100,000 face to face “advice” sessions, and dealt with 81,000 users through its telephone service and 15,000 users through its webchat service.

This was against an annual target of 88,000 face to face advice sessions, and a combined target of 90,000 for telephone and webchat users.

The MAS also delivered 1.2m action plans, against an annual target of 1 million.



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There are 53 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Between April 2012 and March 2013, the MAS delivered 100,000 face to face “advice” sessions, and dealt with 81,000 users through its telephone service and 15,000 users through its webchat service.

    Can someone explain to me how you conduct a face to face advice session over the phone or on tinternet

    My understanding of face to face is exactly that.

    Perhaps I have got it wrong over the last 40 years.

    Whoo Ha jobs for the boys as ever

  2. Bank – Type of advice offered
    Bank of Ireland – Restricted
    Barclays – None
    C&G – None
    Clydesdale Bank – None
    Halifax – Restricted
    HSBC – Restricted
    Lloyds TSB – Restricted
    Nationwide – Restricted
    RBS – Restricted
    Santander – None
    Yorkshire Bank – None

    How many more of them will fall into the “None” category in the next 12 months? Surely the MAS could partner with unbiased (or some other similar entity) to ensure consumers are getting independent advice rather than restricted advice.

  3. In other news, Social Services looks to partner with rabid wolves to bridge childcare gap.

  4. Do the MAS have the figures for how many people were referred to IFAs?
    Why are they working closely with the banks and not with IFAs?
    Please can they elaborate on where the boundary is between giving non-regulated advice and regulated advice?

  5. Congratulations MAS. What you are doing is hood-winking consumers into thinking they are receiving advice or have the experience (based on information received by you) to make financial decisions when in fact they have neither. Your proposed venture wih the banks is evidence that you have destroyed the advice market and need to bridge a gap which has been created bu over regulation. I am sure if you set up a cosy number with the banks they will keep the seat warn for all of you cronies at MAS.

  6. It is about time MAS stopped saying that they give free unbiased advice. MAS is not free it is paid for by the Financial Sector. If a group of insurance companies paid me to give advice it would not be RDR compliant. What is the difference

  7. ”At the end of the day we have to bear in mind we cannot offer regulated advice……”


  8. Q: When is advice not advice?

    A: When it suits the regulator.

  9. Neil F Liversidge 30th April 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Would it not make more sense to partner with small local community IFA firms who CAN still deliver affordable advice because they don’t have the enormously expensive and unwieldy management structure of banks and nationals?

  10. I think this is a great idea. Providing financial advice to the general public is a really pressing need.

    Presumably the Money Advice Service will in future be funded by the banks…?

  11. No doubt they will be wanting IFA’s to pay for it, turkeys and christmas spring to mind.

  12. The MAS only need two brochures:
    1 Are you in debt? PTO for information.
    (information inside) Go see your local CAB office. Do not sign up to any paid service.
    2 Do you need advice on any type of investment? PTO for information:
    (inside) Go see a properly independent financial adviser.

  13. Advice?? What advice can the banks actually give nowadays?? MAS have never been in a position to give advice. Barclays for cash ISAs?? God help the poor bloody man in the street – and I am not normally this negative!

  14. Graham Pattinson 30th April 2013 at 1:16 pm

    I can’t believe this statement from Caroline Rookes. What planet is she on? The banks cannot afford to offer ‘paid for advice’ so how on earth are they going to offer unpaid advice unless it is just generic advice on their own in house bank accounts.The banks are now only interested in clients with £50k + to invest so this idea of Ms .Rookes seems odd. RDR came in which means that advisers need to be suitably qualified to advise. Surely the MAS should be directing any ‘clients’ who want financial advice to the IFA’s. After all the banks created enough mess in 2008.

  15. As the Banks and Bankassurers have created nothing but bedlam in respect of their historic performance in assisting the general public obtain quality guidance in the past, why would anyone want to give them another chance! The SME,s whether they come under Restricted or Independent are getting squeezed too, but are prepared to offer a far better service than any Bank because we take time to develop the full picture and look at client circumstances holistically. Just because they are complaining it does not mean they should be accomodated.

  16. Perhaps the banks would like to take on all the funding then!!

  17. Sorry but I must be missing the point here. The MAS cannot give advice, is not qualified in any shape or form but still thinks it gives unbiased, free financial advice! Advice on what exactly? What can possible be in those 1.2million acion plans that makes it worth the £squliion budget? This is a complete joke, but the joke is on the happless fools paying for it.
    What planet do I pitch my flag to set up a Legal Advice Service funded by the legal profession so that I can give free unbiased legal advice at no cost to my end users and enjoy a nice salary, bonus, pension contribution and be home each night in time for tea? Obviously need to throw in a a wee disclaimer somewhere saying my legal advice is worth didly squat and you cannot sue me for incompetence, negligence……etc

  18. So she’s expecting the IFA sector to cross-subsidise the bank advice sector?

    The true intentions of MAS become clearer – finish off what the banks and FSA couldnt do.

  19. Who is going to pick up the tab for compensation if the regulated advice ends up being unsuitable? IFA’s in the past have been sued for referring clients to someone else who “screwed” the client with unsuitable advice. I wonder how MAS would defend this? Good luck to them finding a bank that actually has regulated advisers who will deal with those who MAS. Not exactly the type of client that we would call high net worth so from what has been in the press over the last 12 months, there wont be anyone.

  20. how can a company that does not offer regulated advice fill the gap where regulated advisers no longer exist. What a joke, they should not even be allowed to have the word advice in their name.

  21. Open message for Caroline Rookes

    Could you please explain the reasons why the Money Advice Service is looking to build links with organisations that have the highest complaint levels out of any financial advice sector?

    Surely the Money Advice Service should be looking to build links with the 21,000 remaining Financial Advisers who remain in the industry who are qualified and hold SPS certificates.

    The regulator was the one who came up with the present system of regulated advice and I find it confusing that the FSA and now the FCA continue to undermine IFA’s at every turn. The MAS has never answered IFA’s concerns with the respects to the fact that MAS is an information service and not an advice service as it continues to claim. The IFA community is more than willing to work the FCA and MAS to provide client information that is relevent but in the field of advice MAS needs to start promoting the services of IFA’s as we are the ones that pay for the service through the levy.

    Both the regulator and MAS have been woeful at promoting IFA’s and the consumer has no idea of the FCA register and what regulated advice actually means.

    This is a real concern to many IFA’s and unless the regulator and MAS change tack and engage the IFA community instead of listening to big banks with vested interests the consumer will be doomed to never trust financial services again.

    I look forward to your response.

  22. Stephen Rowland 30th April 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Does that mean then that IFA’S won’t have to pay any MAS levy – as not being given any potential leads & being positively discriminated against re Banks?

  23. I’ve news for Ms Rookes. She says “Everyone shares the same objective that people understand more about their financial affairs and can manage them”. That’s funny – I thought that the banks’ objective is to make money. If people understood more about their financial affairs they’d never go near a bank (with very few exceptions) other than to set up a current account. She has never worked in the private sector – that much IS clear.

  24. I suppose they wish to partner with banks because of their wonderful reputation for giving unbiased advice!

  25. So let me get this straight, the service we pay for is going to partner with our competitors??

  26. Sorry But MAS still dont get it. MAS cannot and does not give advice. It gives information only. To give advice you have to be a regulated individual.

    … and MAS are out there telling the public when they hardly understand the FS industry in the UK. It hardly inspires you with confidence.

  27. Great you do that and get the banks to pay !!!

    BYW -: She says that in a year’s time she would like to have “gone even further to have established the MAS as a household name and as a source of unbiased, free advice


  28. I think it is about time Caroline Rookes explained exactly what it is she thinks the MAS is doing. Are they publishing data on how many people are referred onto regulated advisers after visiting MAS and if this counts as “someone being helped” according to her own figures? I suspect not.

    In my opinion the MAS should be nothing more than a body set up to educate the public. They don’t give advice so the misleading title should be dropped. As an IFA i’d be happy to pay for something that educated people to basic financial literacy and promoted sound financial advice for members of the public not comfortable doing it themselves. I am not happy to pay for something that claims to give advice when in reality it is no better than your mate in the pub when it comes to giving advice.

    Rant over until she pops up again………………

  29. The headline should read

    ‘MAS plans to sup with the devil, but expecvts to bring no long spoon’

  30. Annoyed of Fareham 30th April 2013 at 2:24 pm

    So, let’s get this straight… A body, by its own admission not abel to give advice – but is allowed to have advice in its title, which is partly funded by the IFA sector, is to team up with Banks; the purveyors of poor quality advice – see their complaints figures for evidence – who overall were responsible for the credit crunch, the heavy and costly regulation and in some cases are turning thier back on advice because it is unprofitable? You couldn’t make it up!

  31. Derek Bradley ceo Panacea Adviser 30th April 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Am I going slightly mad?

    “she would like to have “gone even further to have established the MAS as a household name and as a source of unbiased, free advice”.

    I am not sure that there is a parallel universe I am not part of here, but this suggestion is frankly ridiculous.

    This organisation is industry funded and I would think that advisers would see this thought process as, shall we say, inappropriate.

    Would this suggestion be considered a “cross subsidy” situation BTW? With banks laying off their advisers, who would do this?

  32. And there we have it. The government and its crappy old civil servants have coughed up yet another turd.

    Providing unregulated advice, but pushing the boundary towards regulated, and then having “partnerships” with banks (who mainly now provide regulated advice, but not independent advice) in order to actually satisfy the public’s need. Who in God’s name actually understands all that? Who appreciates being passed from pillar to post just as you get with call-centres that can’t actually answer your technical question? “Err, sorry mate, that’ll require a regulated answer. Phone your bank. or if you ain’t got one, try Barclays.”

    If the civil servants aren’t talking to themselves in their own set of acronyms, then they create an unfathomable nexus of impenetrable gibberish just to pretend to keep within the regulatory spiders web. Can no-one see this is a ghastly mess.

    Either tear up the regulatory rulebook and start again, or give up completely, because the public won’t like this one bit. As for the remotest chance that the MAS will be able to keep its staff from providing regulated advice: dream on. I hear them now telling me…”of the two, I’d go for that one. Not that I’m giving you advice.”

  33. It’s the regulator that caused this Gap, if the regulator that should close it.

  34. just wait and see, the government/regulator caused the advice gap. They now propose to fill it.
    How long before they need to charge for the advice, which is not advice, it’s just called advice?
    Who will pay for it, will the banks give them a referral fee. Are we now paying to have MAS refer clients to Barclays? was Hector involved in that idea?
    We need answers and we need them now.

  35. I have checked, checked and checked again, it is the 30th April and not the 1st. It really is about time that the general media picks up on what an absolute disaster the regulator and it’s spin offs are, the cost that it is to the consumer and how over the last 25 years they have been the architects of the savings gap, the protection gap and along with Gordon Brown the pensions gap, and there is no chance that MAS will along with the banks bridge these gaps along with the advice gap. The result will eventually be more and more people relying on benefits and a greater cost to an already bankrupt country. 25 years ago there was to main advice channels that did a superb job providing advice and information, IFA’s and the army of home service agents.

  36. I am dismayed that the MAS is even considering using banks at all. As the majority of complaints have come from banks and building societies I find that MCA stance on this very offensive. What about using the advisers that do not get complaints? Use common sense please! Perhaps this a way of saying sorry to the banks?

  37. The redoubtable Ms. Rookes is at it again. Proving that she really should not be in this job.

    Firstly she tries to maintain that the MAS gives advice. Perhaps they think they do advise people – to get out of debt and take out a pension, but that is guidance – the rest of her service is information.

    Now after practically the whole world has joined in condemnation of the banking culture she has decided to direct her poor lambs to the slaughter. As other have already pointed out many banks have already withdrawn from the advice arena. Others have a hurdle which few if any MAS customers will be able to meet. The remainder are tied. So not one is independent. A fine service you are offering your customers Ms. Rookes.

    I hope you are prepared for the roasting that Andrew Tyrie will no doubt eventually meet out to you.

  38. Ken B @ 5:40

    What about using the advisers that do not get complaints?

    Because Ken as I have pointed out before these are not the clients IFAs want.

    How many clients earning less than £25K per annum do most of us have (or want)? None I suspect.

    As for teaming up with the banks – A joke! will not work.

    Don’t even mention MAS funding.

    The masses who want advice/guidance need to get it somewhere and MAS is probably the answer but not without some modifications to it’s model.

  39. Very surprised they have not partnered with Hargreaves Lansdown or SJP yet? Why are they not looking to the IFA sector? They could slash their budget and use it to give all their callers a voucher for an hour with an IFA for fully regulated advice nit the generic stuff they spew out!Sorry they are part of the anti IFA agenda as well ,stupid me.

  40. @ Natalie Holt – I am a little dissapointed with your article. Usually your headlines and articles are very fair and balanced, but having read a similar article on Citywire’s NMA (they are often guilty of misquoting and sensationalism). Didn’t Ms Rookies imply that they wanted to work with all types’ of advisers and service providers, IFAs, banks, accountants, solicitors, CAB etc?

  41. Is it not about time that the IFA community club together and took the regulator and MAS to court, as surely some of their actions contravene the laws that regulate financial services.

    After all aren’t you meant to be regulated and authorised to give financial advice this is a basic principle of the FSMA2000 and other amendments to this act.

    Until we challenge this in court we will always be on the receiving end of ridiculous bureaucrats.

    We should look upon the right of giving financial advice like a gamekeeper looking after his land and stock instead of always allowing poachers to come along and steal our business.

    I suspect many on here will yet again have a go at my comments but until we all wake up and start taking more aggressive tone to both government and the regulator in this matter we will always be on the receiving end of ridiculous decisions.

    There is one principle that and that is the LAW even for a regulator!

  42. SHOCK !!!!

    I agree with Peter Herd – although you’re a bit late with the getting legal with the regulator bit some people having been trying that for years dear boy !

  43. phil castle | 1 May 2013 7:54 am

    Last time I checked most accountants and solicitors don’t hold authorisation to give regulated advice!

    And if they do give advice they should be registered with the FCA many of them are not.

  44. @ Peter Herd – I agree with your post of 10:14 am, but your post of 12.22 is flawed.

    Like Derek Gair, I was a member of IFADU and subsequently of Adviser Alliance and was one of those who put my money were my mouth is and have been a vocal critic of the failures of the F-pack FSA, FSCS and FOS. Derek, like Alan Lakey put a lot more time in than I did.

    The idea of a “Money Information Service” is a good one, but not if it is badly named. However Peter you have fallen in to the same jargon problems that the MES (I will not call them MAS, EVER and suggest you and everyone else starts calling them a MES until they change their name) have.

    Citywire’s headline based on what I suspect was the same comment or press release was

    “MAS looks for closer links with IFAs to tackle advice gap” by Michelle Abrego on Apr 30, 2013 at 17:51

    The quotes in that article are ‘We need to work with the financial institutions and the financial advisers and look at what we can do collectively to fill the gaps,’ she said. ‘None of us can do this on our own it’s something we have got to collaborate closely on and that is what I plan that we should do over the coming months.’

    Hence why, just as my business clients use me as the relationship manager who then speaks to their accountant, solicitor and bank (where possible) to help co-ordinate a coherent PLAN, MES it woudl appear have recognised that all parties for lower net worth clients need to be drawn in to plan.

    Becuase the banks are so protective, we hope to do that be encouraging our clients and particualrly the transactional group pension scheme members to engage with us through Sammedia’s “Moneyinfo service” which allow a window on to their banking, saving and investing and at last allow the IFA to see the bigger picture wheras the banks have been abusing this and not doing it very well.

    @ Natalie – Please clarify whether your headline matches what was actually said please.

  45. ‘We need to work with the financial institutions and the financial advisers and look at what we can do collectively to fill the gaps,’ she said. ‘None of us can do this on our own it’s something we have got to collaborate closely on and that is what I plan that we should do over the coming months.’
    You are welcome to work with me Ms Rookes, where do I send the invoice?
    I am not allowed to cross subsidise and I spend a lot of time filling in forms and complying with this that and the other, so I do hope you are not expecting me to collaborate for free, especially as you are richly rewarded for your own work, which by the way, adds to my own costs.

  46. There is a difference between cross subsidy and doing something pro bono, especially if it is in your free time. PCSOs are paid, Specials’ were not, nor are magistrates or a lot of sports coaches.

  47. Maybe, just maybe, when the people at the helm of the decision-making processes affecting this industry (and there are several and not just in the UK it has to be said) have exhausted all of their self-serving, hypothetical ideology, and the politicians have woken up to the fact that they are losing tax revenue and voters by the score, they may just demean themselves by talking to the people at the coal-face…People who not only operate at the front-end of this industry, but many of whom also very efficiently operate their own businesses, something that the people at the top of this country do not (although they certainly think they do)!

    When or if they do, they will find their answer.

    Those that can do, those that can’t teach/preach/make more rules!

  48. @ Phil 7.11
    I do not have any free time.
    the free time I ought to have, is taken up with compliance, so I will not be doing any pro bono unless it is for my own family.
    I contribute enough, in my annual payment to MAS.
    My salary is not nearly as much as Ms Rookes.
    I did not contribute towards the advice gap and therefore do not feel it is my responsibility nor do I feel under any obligation to close the gap.

  49. It is well known that Caroline and her ex colleagues in the DWP dont want clients to have to pay for advice. An email (in late 2011) from the then Deputy Director Pensions Information and Presentation to colleagues, including Caroline Rookes, stated “we didn’t like the proposed solution which drives people to seek paid for advice”.

    How many IFA’s would be happy to advise clients for free?

  50. RegulatorSaurusRex 2nd May 2013 at 9:37 am

    We the regulators will publish the names of the adviser firms that the MAS has referred customers to.

  51. My first job for tomorrow is to call MAS to test the quality of the advice it gives! Should be a bit of fun to cheer me up after reading this depressing article.

    I am trying to be rational and wonder if Ms Rookes defines advice as referring an enquiry to a relevant professional….a bit like Citizens Advice. But surely if it refers somebody to a bank, MAS should be ethically bound to outline the fact that a bank’s advice is biased? Or am I just so painfully naive?

  52. @ Anon whoever you are. Are you a Network member or are you directly regulated? As a directly regulated firm, I read what the FCA writes, I read what compliance consultants and journalists write and the latter tpwo. r often misinterpret what the FCA have said. We are responsible took our clients first and FCA second. As to MES costs as a % of turnover they are PEANUTS and even to total costs they are leanuts, The benefit to my clients and I of MES exceeds the cost to me. What I do object to is it’s misleading NAME & the obscene salaries some were paid.

  53. Malcolm Coury 4th May 2013 at 8:45 am

    Scandalous. Most if not IFAs will give a free half hour to an hour initial meeting so how dare MAS even consider the banks where the target driven sales culture has ruined the financial services sector’s reputation and resulted in sledge hammer regulation for all.

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