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MAS accused of competing after revamp

IFAs worry service paid for through FSA fees bypasses intermediaries

By Holly Black | Published Aug 10, 2012 | comments

IFAs concerned the Money Advice Service (MAS) has started selling products directly through its website can rest assured this is not actually the case

MAS came under fire this month by IFAs who believed the self branded ‘independent, unbiased’ advice service had set itself up as a direct competitor. However, MAS itself has cleared the air and said it is not possible buy products directly from its website and only links to product providers’ websites.

While the site has always offered comparison tables for various products, such as annuites, some were concerned that a change to this facility had created a direct-selling proposition, similar to that of a travel or car insurance comparison site.

Commenting on an industry forum, one adviser wrote that the useful comparison tables had disappeared and had been replaced with personalised quotations. Th adviser wrote, “A list of annuity incomes based on the preferences you have input, with the last column being an ‘apply’ list through to the provider’s website.”

But while the website does indeed provide the facility to enter personal information regarding pension pots to generate a number of quotations from providers, on a whole of market basis, MAS was keen to point out that in no way was it selling directly and that no one would be able to buy products through its site; nor would it receive any fees for people linking through from these figures to provider websites.

While some IFAs voiced their concerns, saying they had unknowingly funded a competitor, others said that it seemed more like MAS was simply trying to help people trying to find a decent rate by themselves.

holly.black@ft.com

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