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Advisers will be able to join Mas directory for free

Advisers who meet criteria agreed by an independent panel of industry and consumer representatives would not have to pay to be in a new directory to be launched by the Money Advice Service, on the back of evidence consumers find it difficult to access advice.

Mas has launched a consultation following on from a review that found customers often find it a confusing and fragmented process to find an adviser, which it hopes to resolve through a new directory comprising of specialist retirement advisers.

The proposal for a directory comes just days after an independent review of the Money Advice Service was ordered by HM Treasury.

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The independent review, to be led by Christine Farnish, who was previously chief executive of the National Association of Pension Funds, must examine whether it should exist as a statutory body and also if its statutory arrangements are “sufficiently robust”

Mas revealed it plans to launch a directory after it’s research showed the changes to pensions from April 2015, announced in the Budget, will make it even more important for consumers to be able to access a high quality specialist adviser easily when they need it.

The service proposes that the directory would include advisers who specialise in retirement advice.

According to Mas, the directory would be unbiased and non-commercial, and would list only those advisers who offer advice to all individuals irrespective of the size of their pension pots.

It would also allow consumers to search for an adviser by postcode, and compare the costs, specialisms, and qualifications of advisers to help them make a more informed decision.

As well as proposing the new directory, the service is also reviewing its web content and making it clearer what regulated advisers do and the benefits consumers can gain by taking specialist advice.

Caroline Rookes, chief executive of Mas, said: “Many people are faced with making complex financial decisions as they approach retirement, and it is crucial that they know where to turn for specialist advice, particularly following the changes to pensions from April 2015.

“The directory we are proposing today will help people find the adviser that is right for their needs.

“It will also make it much easier for people to move from the free and impartial guidance we provide to help people understand their options at retirement, to specialist advice on what product to choose.

“The Money Advice Service is committed to working in partnership with the advice community to help consumers make the choices that are right for them. We think these proposals are good news for both consumers and advisers, and hope that the industry does too.”

The deadline for responses is 5pm on 11 July.