The government should give the Money and Pensions Service greater scope to provide stronger financial guidance without it being considered financial advice, according to the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association.
Maps, which was made up of the merger of Pension Wise, the Money Advice Service and The Pension Advisory Service, officially launched in April 2019 and is a joined-up service for everything guidance, from debt help to money and pensions guidance.
Responding to Maps’ listening document, which was published ahead of its listening events in April 2019, the PLSA has said Maps should help bridge the gap between guidance and financial advice.
At its listening events across the country, Maps asked various stakeholders for their opinions on how the service can improve the guidance it gives to individuals and how it can encourage people to engage with their savings.
Responding to this, the PLSA believes Maps should be given greater scope to provide stronger financial guidance and make general recommendations without it being considered personal financial advice.
The PLSA also supports measures to make it easier for guidance to be provided through employers and pension schemes.
Nigel Peaple, director of policy and research at the PLSA, said: "Many people find decision-making on pensions very confusing. We believe that Map’s trusted non-commercial status makes it ideally placed to help close the advice gap that means so many people feel unable to take complex financial decisions."
He added: "It is vital that Maps gives pensions the focus it needs as it set its new strategy. Most of us aren’t saving enough and we need to work together to ensure people achieve a better income in retirement."
But the PLSA has warned that care must be taken to ensure that the guidance body’s requirement to focus on those most in need and in vulnerable circumstances does not result in a decline in support for the people who need support on pension saving.
While it is right that Maps looks to help those in crisis, it should also use its wealth of pensions expertise to focus on people saving for retirement and those making decisions on how to draw down their retirement pot, according to the PLSA.
It stated: "We believe the new, wider remit of Maps, compared to its predecessor bodies, provides a great opportunity to adopt a necessary, more holistic, approach to retirement saving decisions.
"In particular, we would like Maps to provide guidance that can help people assess when and how to save for retirement in a context where some over the short term may have problem debt, and others at the end of a working life may experience an effect of pension saving on their welfare benefits."
At the London listening event on June 20, a common theme across the room was that Maps needed to communicate with individuals about their pension savings across key stages of their life, for example, when entering work for the first time or reaching retirement age.