The Money Advice Service has pledged to engage more with the industry and financial advisers as it embarks on a nationwide financial capability strategy.
In partnership with the UK Financial Capability Board, Mas has published a 10-year strategy to help people manage their money on a daily basis, prepare for life events and deal with financial difficulties.
The strategy will focus on developing people’s financial skills and knowledge, as well as understanding their attitudes and what motivates them. It will be monitored by a financial capability survey to see what has worked.
John Penberthy-Smith, executive customer director of Mas, said the role of Mas was to “help the public with their money and to point them in the direction of regulated, independent advice.
“Mas is pro-regulated advice for consumers. This is why we have invested in revamping our adviser directory so that people can more easily find a financial adviser.”
Mr Penberthy-Smith said he understood that some advisers have taken issue with the word advice in Mas’s name, but explained that Mas had an important role to play, especially where there was an advice and educational gap.
Mas launched on 4th April 2011, and was in receipt of £43.7m in funding from fees raised from financial services firms regulated by the then Financial Services Authority.
Derek Bradley, founder and chief executive of Panacea Adviser, said: “The March 2015 Farnish Review [on Mas] said: ‘We question whether a body like Mas... should even seek to compete with the wide range of other bodies which already have trusted brands and extensive consumer reach. It still has an important job to do, but change is needed.’
“I am not sure what Mas means by working on its signposting to advisers, but Mas would be better focusing on what any such sign may have written on it.”
Robert Reid, director of London-based Syndaxi, has often carried out pro bono work to help people get advice. When asked what he wanted to see from Mas, Mr Reid said: “The terms of engagement and the signposting to advisers is not something Mas should work on in isolation. It’s essential that Mas works with a good sample of firms to ensure that its changes will have a significant impact.”
On Monday 26 October, Lesley Robinson, one of Mas’ highest-paid directors, left. According to Mas’ report and accounts, Ms Robinson, who joined the service in 2011, took home more than £200,000 in 2014/15.
Joel Adams, founder of Cheshire-headquartered LIFT-Financial Ltd, said: “I think financial advisers have generally been negative about the Money Advice Service because of its title – implying that it can give advice when in fact it gives information and guidance.
“However, on anyone’s financial journey, education is vital and when it comes to debt and borrowings, Mas does help people.
“As far as pensions, savings and investment go, however, these are more complicated and should be left to regulated financial advisers. So if Mas is working on its directory to help people get such advice in a more effective way, that has to be a good thing.”