The Money Advice Service plans to spend over £20m of its industry funded budget on marketing and brand awareness in 2012/13, Money Marketing understands.
Last week, MAS told delegates at a Marketforce conference in London that it was moving from information towards “advice-type activity” but insists it will not enter the regulated advice area.
Speaking at the conference, policy lead Francis McGee said advice can help consumers act to address financial needs. He said: “Advice is more directional, more assertive, more personal, than simply information and education-type activity which is why we are moving from doing information and education towards advice-type activity.”
Following the conference, Money Marketing asked the MAS to define “advice-type activity”.
McGee says: “We are a service focused on getting people to take action. With this goal in mind, we continue to offer people advice but we do not provide regulated advice or sell anything and we never recommend specific financial service products. We will be more action-oriented, more directional than simply providing information. The MAS is looking to enhance its service, making sure it delivers more.”
The MAS says by “advice” it means encouraging consumers to act on issues such as debt.
Hearnden Associates director Paul Hearnden says: “It concerns me that the MAS is stepping out of its remit.”
Money Marketing understands that MAS chief executive Tony Hobman told staff at a briefing in November that half of the 2012/13 budget will be spent on marketing of the service. The MAS has a 2011/12 budget of £43.7m, of which £4.6m was allocated for communications and marketing.
In June, it launched a £4m ad campaign which claimed the service offers free, independent, unbiased advice, which was a “breath of fresh air”. The MAS declined to comment.