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Money Advice Service to spend over £20m on brand awareness and marketing

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.


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There are 23 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. £20 million. Unbee leee vable!
    I expect 19 of the 20 will be on self justified bonuses.
    It’s like something out a Zimbabwean kleptocracy

  2. Joe Egerton - Justice in Financial Services 9th December 2011 at 9:32 am

    It would be interesting to know how many private companies spend on this scale on this sort of advertising project.

    Such firms are constrained by non-exec directors, analysts reporting on perfomance, FDs anxious about the next year’s accounts…

    Is this another case of a regulator being extraordinarily liberal with somebodyelse’s money?

  3. The agency must have seen them coming!! What a disgrace.I can give them some very good advice for FREE!
    How about helping people to reduce their debts with some of the cash you are about to throw away.
    When it was given to you was it ever imagined it would be spent so foolishly and irresponsibly?

  4. This is apart from the huge sum that we were previously told it had spent on its website

  5. And if I say I don’t want them to spend my money like that? I mean, it’s not some trifling amount is it? It could have been used to subsidize the exam fees for some 100,000 adviser exams!

  6. It’s a case of the unaccountable spending the money of the unrepresented in pursuit of the unwilling uneducated.

  7. Brian Rix must be in this somewhere. Why doesn`t the Sun or the Mirror headline this story? Must admit I am getting blaise over the revelations continuing to issue from this FSA i.e. us, sponsored farce.

  8. I guess it is easy to ‘splash the cash’ when it is not your own and your are completely unaccountable for any results. Why not plough it back into the already well known service which provided excellent debt advice called the Citizens’ Advice Bureau? To simple I guess and doesn’t keep enough on the regulatory funded gravy train.Why use a system that works and utilises low paid workers and volunteers when you can give yourself some big bonuses for repeated failure?

  9. Lol,

    Well if it wasn’t your money and it was wasted like this what else can you do but laugh?

  10. And the Cost:Benefit Analysis indicates………………?

  11. It’s almost as if they have unlimited funds to………………wait a minute.

  12. Overheard, I am told:

    “Yes, of course, Frau Merkel, the Money Advice Service at your service. We just need to adjust our advertising budget to cater for all 17 countries!”

  13. The FSA has gradually extended and expanded its own remit without consultation or discussion or permission over the past 10 years. Why wouldn’t this new quango aim to do the same – more money to justify its own existence, bigger salaries, pensions, bonuses, expense accounts and then a nice little non-exec position with a bank.

    It’s surreal !

  14. Sorry, can’t see a business plan anywhere.

    Considering that the ‘advice’ will be given to folk in ‘debt’ what are the chances of recouping anything back from the £20m of our money spent?.

    People in debt have the Citizens Advice Bureau, moneysupermarket, and a host of other helpful sites to turn to.

    If only they would admit it, this is simply a way of keeping penpushers in jobs. The service is not required, and certainly not at £20m.

    I am sure Arch Cru investors would be pleased to receive a share of the £20m that’s about to be pi**ed against the wall!!.

  15. I am confused by this whole ‘advice’ label!

    If MAS provide ‘advice’ in what is a regulated area, such as pension planning or, say, unit-linked investment, then how can it possibly be done on a purely prescriptive basis, and without referring to suitable product types for differing circumstances? You only need to look at a keyfacts document to see how involved such product areas are.

    In 25 years, I have never found a situation where a consumer does now require an informed opinion or guidance, even at a basic knowledge-gathering phase.

  16. OK so you are all agreed-it is a waste of time and money!
    So what are you going to do about it?
    All you self opinionated so called financial advisers Gurus,journalist have no teeth at all to do any thing about it.
    SO SHUT UP!!!

  17. Anonymous at 4.53pm…..

    Is that you, Hector?

    We have an opinion, but we believe we have a right to make comments because it is our money that is being wasted.

    We also have the b*lls not to remain anonymous.

  18. I think the best thing to do could be all to deauthorise and then set up our own”advice type” service in direct competition to MAS and advertise that we are qualified to level 4 or 6 or whatever, have specialist knowledge massively over and above that of the MAS staff, and therefore people may want to pay a premium.
    If we all did that,then there would be no advisery firms to pay the wages of the MAS staff and the bonuses of the chief executives.

  19. “I think the best thing to do could be all to deauthorise and then set up our own”advice type” service in direct competition to MAS and advertise that we are qualified to level 4 or 6 or whatever…”

    Good idea; I’d not thought about the de-authorising angle. But a scneario like this and the RDR was why I bought a few years back (virtual interactive / independent financial advice / analysis).

  20. Terence P. O'Halloran 12th December 2011 at 2:32 pm

    This is Socialism at its very best. Take a look at the political profile of the people behind this gross misuse of funds.

    This has nothing to do with consumers. It is pure political dogma.

  21. I’m confused. I thought that most staff at MAS were under notice of redundancy. Am sure i saw an article in this very same publication. But now they have £20m set aside for advertising (?)

  22. Dear Keith
    My choice to remain anonymous as in my experience it generates the type of response you gave! I have been accused of being ‘Keith’ and now ‘Hector’ who next? I am personally disappointed that I watch(i now live abroad and am ex financial services) the mess developing and many of the people and organizations i knew and admired are now unable to curb this creeping disease of the FS and associated bodies.
    Trade bodies have been unsuccessful,lobbying MP;s have been ignored,so who is able to do anything?
    So far-NOBODY!! do i make my point?

  23. In the summer MAS claimed that their aim was 300k completions of their Financial Healthcheck form based on half a million site visits.!/asterpaul/status/93643764438007808
    As a marketeer consultant for a leading commercial debt resolution company I can safely say that whilst that is a lofty aim, it is also utterly unrealistic.

    Even with a comparative monumental ad budget like this, such a conversion rate of 60% shows to me that MAS can’t do the maths and that hardly bodes well for a body claiming to serve financial advice.

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