Money Advice Service to offer “advice-type” activity

The Money Advice Service (MAS) says it is moving towards offering an “advice-type” service, rather than information and guidance only, but insists it will not enter the regulated advice space.

Speaking at the Marketforce conference on the future of distribution in financial services in London today, Francis McGee, policy lead at MAS, said people are more aware of the need for financial advice in tough economic times, but it is difficult to convert that awareness into action.

McGee said: “Advice of all kinds can help with that. Advice is more directional, more assertive, more personal, than simply and solely information and education-type activity. Which is why at MAS we are moving very clearly from just doing information and education towards doing advice-type activity.”

Ross Anderson, RDR programme manager at Aviva, questioned McGee on whether this signals that MAS is moving into regulated financial advice.

McGee said: “No”

Earlier this month, the MAS refused to answer questions about how much it is spending on redundancy packages, directors’ remuneration and overseas trips for senior management.

Money Marketing, Fundweb’s sister publication, put a number of questions to Tony Hobman, chief executive, but the service refused to provide detailed answers.

Earlier this month, Money Marketing revealed that three-quarters of the MAS team of 150 have been put on consultation.

The majority of MAS staff moved across from the FSA’s Consumer Financial Education Body when it became the MAS in April.

An MAS spokeswoman has confirmed that all staff who moved across from the FSA are entitled to “a comprehensive redundancy” package, as set out in the FSA’s employee handbook. The handbook states the maximum payment allowed is the greater of one year’s salary or £100,000.

The MAS is funded by a statutory industry levy. It has a budget of £43.7m for 2011-12, which includes £13.5m for staff costs.

Last week, Money Marketing revealed that MAS spent more than £250,000 rebranding the Money Made Clear and Consumer Financial Education Body websites before its launch in April.