Outgoing MAS chief: I’ve turned us around

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Outgoing Money Advice Service chief executive Caroline Rookes has credited her tenure with turning the embattled agency around, despite having to fend off constant criticism from Government and advisers.

Rookes announced yesterday she will retire from her post in April 2017. She had initially intended to retire in February this year, but wanted to stay to help steer the government’s discussions over the future of the public guidance services.

Asked what her legacy at MAS will be, Rookes tells Money Marketing: “I think I have turned the Money Advice Service around. When I first started it was a pretty unhappy organisation that was being criticised by all sides.”

“Now we are an organisation that has a strong vision, I have a strong team in place and we are providing extensive services to help the public. As a result of all that, most of our detractors are now supporters, which we have seen with the Government announcement of the move to a single organisation.”

“We have lost the headlines that Money Advice Service is being scrapped and we have got much more positive support for ensuring that all of the good things in MAS are preserved and carried forward into the new organisation.”

However, she says throughout her tenure MAS has been under constant scrutiny, including from the Treasury Select Committee and through an independent report.

She says: “The whole time the organisation has been suffering from uncertainty about its future; constant speculation about the future, constant uncertainty which makes life challenging in terms of running an organisation, ensuring that staff morale remains high and that we deliver what we say we are going to deliver.”

MAS has not yet started looking for Rookes’ successor.

The Government said last month it plans to merge MAS, The Pension Advisory Service and Pension Wise into one organisation.