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Pro bono process

The letter from Tony Conner, Joss Harwood and Owen Temple in Money Marketing (February 10) contains a number of misconceptions about the nature of the pilot scheme with Citizens’ Advice to offer the public pro bono generic advice.

First, it is just not true that I have implied that IFAs are “congenitally unsuited to pro bono work. The point I made is that many are reluctant to do it. Money Marketing’s findings in Broker Talkback in the same issue would seem to underline this point.

Second, I do not think anyone has suggested that the scheme is providing advice on debt problems. Quite the contrary, it is for Citizens’ Advice to continue to advise people with debt problems and the advisers who are assisting with this pilot will be offering generic advice, with an emphasis on savings.

Third, the sum which the CII has put in is a contribution to the costs of managing the scheme. For example, it needs to have a project manager and there will need to be proper reports. There is a steering group, of which I am a member, and that must carry out its work. The training needed in some cases must be paid for somehow.

We should stop arguing about the mechanics of this scheme and think about how there can be further outreach to offer generic advice. IFAs which are reluctant to get involved in this are frankly a considerable disappointment. Our outreach to the public and our reputation depend on a much more positive approach.

John EllisPublic affairs director,Personal Finance Society,London


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