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Money Advice Service slashes marketing spend by 38%

Money Advice Service

The Money Advice Service has slashed its marketing budget for 2013/14 by 38 per cent and reduced its annual budget to £78.3m in the wake of concerns about whether the service delivers value for money.

The MAS has published its business plan for the next financial year which will see the annual budget cut from £80.8m in 2012/13 to £78.3m. Of this, £43.8m will be spent on money advice and £34.5m on debt advice, compared to a budget of £46.3m on money advice and £34.5m on debt advice this year.

The MAS says £12.5m of next year’s budget will be spent on marketing, compared to the £20m spend allocated for 2012/13.

It is targeting 480,000 “specific outcomes” for 2013/14, and plans to handle 196,000 calls through its contact centre and 190,000 queries through its web chat facility. The MAS expects to have handled 90,000 calls at the end of 2012/13.

It also expects to have delivered 88,000 face to face advice sessions this year and plans to “at least maintain this coverage” next year.

The MAS has targeted generating one million action plans this year, which are produced via its online healthcheck, other online tools and in face to face advice sessions.

In its business plan the MAS says: “Whilst the completion of an action plan is a positive step forward for consumers in helping to manage their finances better, completing a specific outcome, such as opening an account or taking out a new product, on the back of an action plan or other encounter with MAS requires significantly higher engagement to achieve.”

MAS’s half year results last month showed 283,397 action plans were produced between April and September.

The MAS has been heavily criticised for spending £20m of this year’s budget on marketing, which saw its “What does Ma Think” TV ad campaign launched in September. A previous ad campaign, aired in June 2011, prompted a wave of adviser complaints over claims the MAS offered free, independent and unbiased advice, adding: “How is that for a breath of fresh air?”

Financial Conduct Authority chairman John Griffiths Jones told the Treasury Select Committee last month said he was having “robust” discussions with MAS over its budget for 2013/14, and called for the MAS to undergo a value for money study of its business plan.

The consultation on the business plan closes on 11 February, and will be approved by the FSA in March.


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There are 9 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Reading the other day about MAS ambitions to “quasi-regulate” debt advice by bringing in exam requirements (with all the attendant budgetary requirements that will mean) let’s hope the FCA will be able to contain MAS apparent “Empire Building” tendencies.

  2. A further 62% cut would be useful. Why should I be promoting MAS when I can’t afford to promote my own services ? And, why should I be paying for debt counselling ?

  3. Why not save more millions by scrapping the service altogether.
    It would be more economical to set up a helpline for consumers who could be referred to a local IFA and that the IFA was paid a fee from the funds to give suitable advice and service even if that does not result in a product purchase.

    The RDR is supposed to have introduced a higher professional qualification for providing advice and as we all pay for this service, maybe it would be prudent to stop wasting money on irrelevances and get to the bottom of providing affordable practical financial advice which the adviser obtains payment from a fund set up specifically to assist consumers with their problems.

    After all, those without problems don’t consult MAS and MAS can only provide generic information.

    We could all then become employees of the regulator and enjoy fantastic pension schemes and salaries.

    Ideal worlds !!

  4. Nothing to worry about, there will be no one left to pay the FSA soon never mind MAS.

  5. The percentage is a good headline – until you read how much will still be spent.

    It would be interesting to compare it with the marketing budget of some FTSE 100 companies.

  6. The government would save £78.3 million by scrapping MAS. Their budget for money advice is £43.8 million and yet they are not regulated to give advice. The adverts etc imply that MAS will give free impartial advice but clearly there is cost involved which is being borne by the tax payer or the financial services sector. In this age of cut backs everywhere this is a department that we can well do without.

  7. If the MAS can give advice and be unregulated, then why can’t we do the same?

    Who takes responsibility of the so called advice they are giving (and they advertise it as an advice service so one assume actual advice is given)?

    Strange how the Government and the regulators want to regulate all advice and make everyone accountable, yet don’t do it themselves but are happy to pass us the bill either way.

  8. FSA is failing to deal with misrepresentation of services as “free independent advice” on a mass-marketing scale which presumably falls within financial promotion regulations? All rather disappointing to still have MAS completely mis-branded.

  9. Rather than a breath of fresh air, many people consider the MAS to give off the suffocatingly feculent stench of yet another ineffective money-guzzling government-created quango.

    In return for its massive spend of OPM, what has the MAS actually achieved thus far? How many people who have either visited the MAS website and/or met with one of its representives actually taken any meaningful steps ~ the first of which must surely be consulting a good IFA, given that we’re paying for the whole self-interested and sorry edifice ~ to putting in order both their current and future finances? My guess is an extremely small number. Yet still the unbridled and largely unaccountable monster ploughs on, devouring tens of millions of pounds of OPM and beating its chest about all the wonderful things it plans eventually to achieve. Jam tomorrow, everybody, but none today ~ we’re still trying to figure out what the frigging recipe should be.

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