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Pressure mounts on MAS as NAO says it’s not value for money

The Money Advice Service has come under further fire today with the National Audit Office stating the service is not delivering value for money and calling for it to work more closely with IFAs.

The NAO report, Helping consumers to manage their money, published today, says that while the debt advice part of the service is delivering value for money, the money advice service part is not.

The NAO acknowledges the MAS has been moving in the right direction on money advice since new chief executive Caroline Rookes took over in February, but that it must become more of an “influencer” in the sector.

The paper comes in the same week as a scathing Treasury select cub-committee report into the service which branded it “not fit for purpose”.

MPs lashed out at MAS’ marketing spend, high executive pay and business strategy, granting it a “stay of execution” while an independent report reviews its effectiveness.

The NAO examined whether MAS has assessed consumers’ need for advice and whether it has targeted it properly, overlaps with other bodies and if it is cost effective.

It says the money advice arm launched in April 2011 before analysing the need or availability for it.

The NAO says 97 per cent of MAS consumer contact comes through the website but its effectiveness is “mixed”.

Visits to the website increased by 400 per cent following an £18m marketing campaign. But the NAO says it is not clear the website is directing those who need more assistance towards phone or face-to-face channels.

The report makes a series of recommendations for the MAS to improve including the need to build relationships and links with regulated advisers to signpost users who want regulated products.

It also calls for MAS to become more of an “influencer” of other organisations, create a more coherent strategy and to better understand the risks of not providing its services.

Rookes says: “The NAO has recognised we are collaborating more and more with partners and stakeholders, and developing more of a positive role in influencing the wider sector, and we welcome this.

“But we are not complacent. We are working hard to develop meaningful relationships with the advice community and to enhance the way we evaluate our progress, but there is more we can do.”

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Comments

There are 6 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. The problem with MAS is that there is no reason for it to exist so it flounders around attempting to find a purpose for itself.

    It should be closed down today and a fraction of its budget be given to Citizens Advice to provide the face to face debt advice service that it already does so well and efficiently.

  2. This industry; “nay” this country makes me weep for the future !

    So we have been saying from outset, this is not value for money (waste of money; same thing just nicer interpretation) so the voice of the people who are in the “know” are ignored and we have a raft of very costly inquires and sometimes independent inquires to tell us something we already knew and actually told them about !!

    Is it just me or is the whole country just a bit fed up and tired of being ignored and treated like a cash cow? as these money wasters just keep climbing the greasy pole off our backs, and hopping in and out of each others beds to keep it all in the family?

    Let us not forget this is going to stagger on like a drunk teenager on a Friday night for the next year or even 3 ? Why ? so the like of Ms C Rooks can collect her money while lining up (bed hopping in the mean time) the next over paid job.

    Still what do I know, I am just a battery in a cheap Christmas toy, thrown away when the life (money) in me is spent !

  3. @DH Fully accept your points but the whole issue is that in ‘their eyes’ (the Regulator) we were or are ‘the problem’ that needs to be regulated, so despite the fact that we told them so, they were never going to listen to our criticism of their wonderful MAS idea and they never will. It’s good that independent bodies are now supporting our arguments at least. For me though I would like to know what the NAO have said about the costs and VFM of the FSA/FCA/FSCS? I suppose its great value as the taxpayer isn’t paying for it (directly) but then neither are they with MAS! Just a question.

  4. A new streamlined strategy with lower costs could do a lot to rebuild it’s reputation.

    There is a need for something like MAS, but at the price currently charged, it is not value for money IMHO!

  5. For £18m the adviser based industry could, or should I more accurately say would, have delivered far more value for money and consumer protection and understanding than MAS could have dreamed of.
    For the eye watering ~£400m MAS cost for a “non advised” service, the rest of industry would have been exponentially more effective, and would have provided an “advised” process….

    Mudie is spot on. Its a disgrace. Talk about fat cats in Financial Services…? You aint seen nothing till you’ve looked at the FCA & MAS Exec’s pay!

    Again, we’ve had almost 30 years of Regulation and now matter what the initials (PIA, FSA, FCA) things costs to the client are at an all time high.

  6. I used to say that other than the disgustingly high executive salaries at MAS and it’s predecessor, the modest amount my firm paid was probably just about value for money as we used the pension annuity pages a fair bit AND we used the printed guides, especially the ones about mental capacity i.e. LPAs. Since the MAS took over the printed guides have reduced to a slack handful and ALL the useful one s which we used to give to clients have gone and NOT been replaced.

    https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/free-printed-guides

    I now have to ask what are WE actually receiving for what we are paying now?

    Anything?

    I tell you what I am NOT paying when the FCA try to invoice me next August, I will send them a cheque for the F-pack fees for FCA, FOS and FSCS, but NOTHING for the MAS and they will have to send the debt collectors round and try and enforce a debt on behalf of someone who has never invoiced me directly (The MAS). if FOS don’t speed up case handling, I will the following year refuse to pay them too and pay a mediator to sort things out quicker.

    Enough is enough with these overpaid quangocrats.

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