MAS refers public to providers for annuity queries
The Money Advice Service has been referring online consumers asking for help with annuities to private sector companies instead of providing the facts itself, Ros Altmann has warned.
The director general of Saga UK, said the ethos of the free service was being undermined by not being able to give consumers the information they needed, such as historical annuity rates, and then passing the baton onto providers that do not typically deal with consumers.
Her remarks came after a visitor to the MAS website had emailed the service to enquire about where to find historical annuity rates. An email reply from a MAS representative, seen by Financial Adviser, said the service does not have access to historical annuity rates, but suggested asking technology provider Avelo.
Ms Altmann added: “MAS is supposed to be helping ordinary people. The industry is funding MAS and yet with something as important as annuities, which is a one-off, irreversible financial decision, MAS says it cannot help.
“It is undermining the whole ethos of the service if it cannot even help people have an idea of annuity rates or even where to find them.”
A spokesman for Avelo, which worked with MAS up until the start of this month, confirmed that the provider does not work directly with consumers, adding: “We would recommend consumers talked to an intermediary.”
A spokesman for MAS said following a restructure of the service, rather than using services from Avelo, customers looking to MAS for help on annuities will now have to fill in a questionnaire about their pension pot, after which they will pointed to the homepage of relevant providers.
She said the service would review its response to the visitor’s complaints over MAS’s inability to provide annuity tables.
The spokesman also confirmed that MAS will continue to do face-to-face advice as needed.
Chris Hulme, director of Manchester-based The Clayton Hulme Partnership, said: “All the information that people are asking for from MAS can be obtained from providers or an adviser who can add value.”
Peter Davies, director of Cardiff-based Create Wealth, said: “MAS is informative for the general public but not something I am a fan of in the way it is being funded by advisers.”