Pension Freedom 

Government finally stops calling guidance 'advice'

Government finally stops calling guidance 'advice'

The single financial guidance body has finally been officially christened as the Money and Pensions Service.

Pension Wise, the Money Advice Service and the Pensions Advisory Service were merged into a single financial guidance body, without a name, at the start of this year under the leadership of chief executive John Govett.

With the new name for the body, industry experts were swift to point out, the government has swerved its repeated past mistake of labelling a guidance service as 'advice' - as it did with the Pensions Advisory Service and the Money Advice Service.

There were concerns the government could repeat its past mistake and label their combined guidance body an advice service after in 2017 David Gauke, secretary of state for work and pensions, called the new combined guidance service an "advice body."

Just last month the Department for Work & Pensions earned criticism from advisers after it failed to distinguish between guidance and advice in a new consumer facing service.

The new midlife MOT website, developed in partnership with Public Health England, the Money Advice Service and the National Careers Service, launched last month (February 20) offering guidance for people who want a financial stock-take some years before their retirement.

Besides providing a link to the government’s check your state pension website, the portal also references services provided by The Pensions Advisory Service, the Money Advice Service and Pension Wise but it failed to clarify that those services are not advice.

Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, said he was pleased the body's new name, the Money and Pensions Service, avoided using the word 'advice.'

He said this should help individuals recognise the difference between the guidance it will offer and the advice they can obtain from professional regulated advisers.

Mr Cameron said: "An abbreviation to Maps, with its inference of setting direction, could well be on the cards.   

"The industry currently signposts customers to the existing guidance services and an important next step will be to replace these with a single signpost to the Money and Pensions Service.

"Before this can happen, John Govett and his team will need to put in place the behind the scenes processes to channel individuals effectively to the service they need."

Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, said the government dodged any potential controversy around the use of the word 'advice' in the name of the new guidance body by steering clear of it altogether.

He said given the negative attention this drew when the Money Advice Service first launched this felt like a sensible decision.

Mr Selby said: "The new Money and Pensions Service will have a vital role to play in providing free, impartial guidance to people about retirement saving.

"Ensuring as many people as possible make well-informed financial decisions both when building up a fund and drawing an income is crucial to ensuring good retirement outcomes.