The Money Advice Service has ruled out setting a target to boost the number of referrals it makes to advisers, saying it should not force higher referrals if that is not what customers need.
The MAS referred around 3,000 people to regulated financial advisers between April 2011 and March 2012, according to the latest figures available.
Based on a total of 1.1 million website users, this equates to 0.3 per cent who were referred to advisers over the period.
Speaking to Money Marketing today following the publication of MAS’ final annual budget, MAS executive director Karen Broughton said the organisation will look to strengthen adviser referrals but argued setting a target to boost referrals is not appropriate.
Asked whether the MAS is planning to improve its adviser referral rate, Broughton, who acts as MAS director of service delivery and marketing communications, said: “Will we set an absolute target around that? No. The most important thing for us is in the customer journey when they come for advice, where and when it is appropriate to refer people to adviser we absolutely will. We have been challenged in the past about how many IFA referrals we will make in a year. Our response to that is it is driven by the customer need, it is not driven by us saying we need to send a certain number of people to advisers.”
She disagreed that 0.3 per cent is a low referral rate, adding: “It is back to this point about what is appropriate. We want to make sure we have got all the right touch points as part of our process as much as possible, but I do not think we should force through higher numbers if that is not what customers need.”
The MAS has announced today it has set its final budget for 2013/14 at £78.3m, compared to £80.8m in 2012/13. Of the 2013/14 budget, £43.8m will be spent on money advice and £34.5m will be spent on debt advice.
The organisation says its focus over the next year is to encourage people to take action on their finances, and has prioritised younger adults and lower income families.
It is targeting 480,000 “specific outcomes” for 2013/14 across five key areas of regular saving, retirement saving, providing for dependants, protecting assets, and managing debt. It is also targeting a further 400,000 budget planners to be completed in the next financial year to reinforce the importance of regular budgeting and money reviews.
Out of its £43.8m money advice budget the MAS will spend £12.5m on marketing and over £9m on staff costs. It will spend a further £7.8m on delivering its face-to-face, telephone and online advice service.