“Tell Sid” was the catchphrase used in the British gas privatisation back in 1986 that encouraged a generation of new investors to take action and become direct holders of equity investments.
It captured the public mood at the time, the launch was oversubscribed and helped encourage many other successful privatisations.
The economy in 1986 was very different to the one we are faced with today. So why does the Money Advice Service think it is a good time to promote their services via a TV campaign? And will they be able to deliver the solutions required of their potential users?
I want to make it clear that the financial promotion of the types of services they offer is extremely important. The financial issues facing some individuals today are severe and the MAS has chosen to highlight three real areas of financial concern initially and try to create a strapline that will encourage a return to these services as an individual develops greater need for financial clarity in other areas.
“What Does MA Think” is set to become a bit of a catchphrase over the next few months if the advertising agency succeeds in achieving its brief for the Money Advice Service. We are in the second week of the advertising and I suspect you have seen one of the three TV adverts that will be running over the next six weeks.
The adverts initially focus on three separate areas – moving house, redundancy and budgeting your income. While it is easy to be negative about this type of activity, they are helping to provide a solution to individuals whose first port of call will usually be family and friends, and may not know where else to go to get financial help.
Getting customers to consistently access and research the site will be the big challenge. It will be interesting to see the volume of enquiries to gauge the appetite for this service, and the customer outcomes.
Advisers looking at the site will have noticed that theMoney Advice Service is not regulated by the FSA and does not provide a regulated service. It goes on to say that the information and tools provided are generic and should be of general assistance to you in managing your finances.
The site gives a good overview of the typical areas where most individuals need to be better financially educated. As the MAS cannot recommend specific financial products, it recommends that you seek further information from an independent financial adviser and/or further information from the providers. You may be surprised to see links to advisers already.
The inability to provide a final fulfillment is the weakness of the process but this could also help advisers in attracting new customers if they want to access these individuals (or could be included on the site).
Looking at the insurance and protection sections on the site, they provide users with basic information, simple calculations and potentially a prescription of what they could do to solve their financial problems.
They will often need an adviser to take that “prescription” and deliver a solution. Better financial education will encourage increased take- up of protection and savings – MA may know best.
Neil McCarthy is sales & marketing director at Direct Life & Pension Services