Mas may scrap ‘main office’ for advisers in directory

Mas may scrap ‘main office’ for advisers in directory

The Money Advice Service may scrap the ‘main office’ address element of its online retirement adviser directory, after advisers who tested the system said it could cause confusion in relation to advisers who either work from home or would otherwise travel to see clients.

Last week, advisers who have registered their details on the directory were invited by Mas to test it out.

As revealed by FTAdviser last week, the directory will have around 4,500 advisers and 1,200 firms listed when it goes into beta testing mode, more than double the number it had amassed at the beginning of last month

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The directory, which went live yesterday (6 April), highlights some impressive features but seemed also to be suffering teething problems with proximity rankings, including listing advisers hundreds of miles from a given client.

FTAdviser tested the system using the example of someone who wanted face-to-face advice and had a pension pot of below £50,000. The system found just over 300 firms (31 pages) could help, but the first on the list was 188 miles away from the selected postcode.

Teresa Fritz, lead on the adviser retirement directory for Mas and Financial Services Consumer Panel member, said many firms in the directory are located in large areas with advisers who work from home and travel, but the directory is only showing the main office.

“We don’t want this to be distracting so we are thinking about what to do with that - we may take the main office off except where it is an office that you would visit, so we are having a think about that.”

Ms Fritz acknowledged that in some examples the first adviser which would appear could a distance of three-figure miles away, however she described this as a “known issue” and said: “we need to deal with that wording because it will be very confusing for customers, as indeed it will for advisers”.

Ms Fritz added that ideally Mas would like to have an adviser profile and a firm profile which the current directory is “building up to”.

She added: “The other thing we’ve asked firms to do is tell us who their advisers are, so we have the individual advisers names and qualifications and postcodes.

“We’ve said if you have multiple advisers can we have their postcode and how far they are willing to travel but that at the moment was behind the scenes. Ideally what we would like to have is an adviser profile and a firm profile... we didn’t have time to build that [yet] unfortunately.”

She added: “I can’t stress enough how early this is - in an ideal world this wouldn’t be going out to the public, even it might be very soft launched to the public and... we’d have a period of at least a month or two months working with advisers saying ‘this is how we are trying to do this’”.

To refine a search for an adviser, the system asks how the consumer wishes to receive advice as well as what specifically the advice is in relation to, including ‘pension pots’, options when paying for care, equity release, inheritance tax planning and wills and probate.