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Unbiased pushes for MAS action after drop in adviser referrals

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Unbiased chief executive Karen Barrett

Unbiased.co.uk has called on the Money Advice Service to develop a formal process for adviser referrals after it saw a “considerable fall” in the number of MAS referrals last year.

The MAS referred around 3,000 people to regulated financial advisers between April 2011 and March 2012, according to the latest data available.

Unbiased chief executive Karen Barrett estimates the number of MAS referrals fell by several hundred in the second half of last year.

She says: “The overhaul of the MAS website last year has meant a lot of links for finding an adviser on the previous Consumer Financial Education Body and Moneymadeclear websites have been cut out.

“We have got 15,500 advisers on our database and a further 4,000 mortgage brokers. Advisers are understandably frustrated the MAS has come out and said it wants to work with banks to close the advice gap, when there is this whole swathe of people perfectly positioned to help consumers and give them the right advice for their needs.”

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Comments

There are 9 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Well said Karen. Why is MAS trying to refer thousands of people to banks when the likes of Barclays, HSBC, Santander and Lloyds are stopping providing face to face regulated advice? Many banks have a narrow product range (single tie) and if MAS refers people to these banks the result will be poor client outcomes. Surely the best route for MAS is to refer to Unbiased as they verify the qualifications and practice certificate of financial advisers. A QCF level 4+ independent or close to whole market restricted financial adviser is likely to provide much more suitable advice than a bank. MAS may well damage an RDR intention of improving the trust in the industry if it forges ahead to refer to the banks.

  2. I do not want to sound like a snob (because I am not) but I am not sure that this would be good for advisers in practise. From looking at the profile of who MAS says it is trying to help, I am not convinced that they would be the type of people that it would be worthwihile and profitable to take on as clients. It may sound like a good concept however in reality I am not so sure. Perhaps I am wrong in my thougts.

  3. I tend to agree with you Marty. People who use MAS are quite possibly doing so to avoid the expense of paying for advice and are looking for a good fit and not the best fit.

    We must however consider who funds this service and what they get for their bucks !!!

  4. Karen Barrett 9th May 2013 at 12:54 pm

    @Kim North – thanks for your comment – we agree and are as keen as ever to help MAS work with the adviser community for the benefit of consumers

    @Marty The MAS deals with large volumes of people looking for information and guidance and given the budget they have to stimulate the nations awareness of its service through TV, press and online advertising etc they have the power to reach more people than ever before, some of whom will have needs that can be met by the advice community. MAS has said themselves (and we can see from our own figures) that the number of referrals onto regulated advisers is a small percentage of this overall number.

    As you rightly point out, not all those using the MAS are right for advisers but some are – particularly if they have a need relevant to retirement, annuity, tax planning or investment. Advice in these areas (among others) is where someone should seek advice and I feel that the consumer outcome will be optimal if the path to finding an adviser is as clear and as easy as can be and that the adviser is able to work on behalf of the client and not a provider.

  5. Marty has a point but no all people accessing MAS will be satisfied with a non advised bank solution. For example I know lots of pre retirees who use the annuity calculator and most of these would people would benefit from a full advice service.

    Either way it is outrageous that we IFA’s should be paying for MAS if they are going to re route enquiries to the banks!

  6. The risk of NOT taking advice for small ports may be relatively low, but I have just spent nrearly a month getting a range of annuity options for a client who had a guaranteed annuity option with Friends Life (preveiously AX, previously Equity & Law). The guaranteed rate would give a level pension of some £7k per annum and yet the only paperwork sent to him or I to enable him to obtain his PCLS was for an OMO or pension deferral. No paperwork to enable him to seelct his guaranteed annuity!
    Had he have been a MAS client intent on getting a PCLS, he may well have gone on theri sight, opted for his maximu PCLS of some £16k and got a residual pension of £2,876 per annum. as it happens, best advice appears to be NOT to take a PCLS or transfer at all and simply to draw and recyle the income (not PCLS) to a PPP again to build up a PCLS for later in life.
    How many people will missbuy as a result of this? I was not the original selling agent….

  7. Whilst my gut feeling is similar to Martys, very often the initial inquiry for someone with what looks like a relatively small pension fund opens up a wider need and the potential client can afford and NEEDs to pay for extra profitable to both parties advice.

    I think what we need to be prepared to do is discuss without advising and pass back to MES where appropriate (they are NOT MAS), i.e. where our fee might exceed the benefit to the client.

    The bit about working closer with banks is a misquote of what the head of the MES said, so i would not get to het up about it. as i read it she implied working closer with ALL stakeholders.

    Persoanlly i don’t want to be discussing someones banking with them and like MOST IFAs without a consumer credit licence, I can’t give debt counselling anyway! A large prortion of IFAs don’t advise on mortgage at all so don’t have a CCL and even those who do may not have one as they are only needed for 2nd charge and B2L.

    Let the banks sort out the problems they have caused along with MES and the CAB etc and we’ll focus on our own clients and those that fit our preferred client priofile.

  8. Many people may well consider the MAS to be part of a deliberate plot to extort from IFA’s as much money as possible and then starve us of any benefit from it.

    When has any regulator actually admitted that the best financial advice, in the great majority of situations, is WoM Independent Financial Advice? Certainly all the data tell us that this is the case.

    The regulator and its various branches hate IFA’s. We’re regarded as a verminous and unregulateable pestilence to be exterminated by any means possible. The campaign against us is so obvious that it’s hard to imagine how anyone could possibly deny it.

  9. Nationalisation of financial services by closet socialist and the crypto-socialist elite

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