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Mas chief pledges to give pension guidance despite snub

Despite not being awarded the government’s guidance guarantee mandate, the Money Advice Service is pressing ahead with plans to provide help for people in retirement, chief executive Caroline Rookes has said.

Speaking after the service published figures showing more than 10 million people have used the service between April and September this year, Ms Rookes said the focus was still on helping people to engage with their money, including pensions.

One of the developments being worked on currently – and which should be in place by April 2015, when the government’s pensions freedoms come into force – is a service to steer pensioners and people approaching retirement towards a regulated financial adviser.

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Ms Rookes said: “One specific project we are working on is to develop a directory of regulated advisers specialising in retirement, which will make it much easier for consumers to find an adviser, when they need one.”

In October, the government announced that the Citizens Advice Bureau and The Pensions Advisory Service would be the two organisations providing the guidance guarantee from April 2015. Neither has provided details on how the guidance will signpost people to regulated advice.

The CAB’s being chosen came as a surprise to the industry, as speculation as early as July had tipped Mas and TPAS for the provision of the guarantee.

Speaking at the time, Mark Garnier, Treasury select committee member and Conservative MP for Wyre Forest, said: “I am as surprised by the inclusion of the CAB as at the exclusion of the government’s Money Advice Service.”

Ms Rookes added: “Our focus is on getting people to engage with their money. We want to make money advice a normal part of everyday life, and to help more people take action to manage their money better. This could be through better budgeting, paying down debt, starting to save for a rainy day fund, taking out insurance or saving in a pension.”

Key Facts

Almost £20m of the Money Advice Service budget so far has gone straight to frontline delivery.

This covers face-to-face sessions, telephone and web chat, printed guides, digital and product development and developing key partnerships.

Mas received more than 10 million contacts from customers in the first half of 2014/15 (April-September 2014).

From April to June, more than 1.5 million actions were taken by people after receiving advice

Source: Mas

Adviser view:

Matthew Brown, executive and retirement services director for London-based Broadstone, said: “The ill-advised and uninformed could well be drawn in to the temptation of spending too much too soon.

“The guidance guarantee is universally considered to be of very limited use and is unlikely to prevent numerous, essentially very sad situations occurring. Overall, I am ideologically at one with the new freedoms, but I do fear for the ill-advised and uninformed.”