The single financial guidance body has finally been named as the Money and Pensions Service.
This comes after 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 have been quick to point out that the government has avoided its repeated past mistake of labelling a guidance service as ‘advice’.
This was the case with The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) and the Money Advice Service (MAS).
Tom McPhail, head of policy at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “To their credit, they’ve avoided the word ‘advice’ in the title, and all the confusion and ill-will caused by the previous use of that term. It is notable they’ve eschewed the word ‘guidance’ too. This is perhaps a reflection of the ongoing evolution of the regulatory boundaries and consumer services below the advice threshold.
“There’s a lot of important work for the Money and Pensions Service to deal with. I’d expect to see them using this first year as a transition period, to merge the 3 different bodies to reorganise their resources and work up a new business plan. There are early signs they are keen to get out and engage with the industry which is welcome.
“The delivery of financial help to consumers should be a partnership between the industry and the new Service. I think it is also important commercial businesses and the new Service adhere to the same regulatory standards in the provision of information and guidance.”
Commenting on the previous confusion, Kusal Ariyawansa, a chartered financial planner at Appleton Gerrard, said: “We have three fundamental areas of trust which are heavily regulated. Doctors, teachers and financial advisers. I’m not qualified to give medical advice thus, the mere mentioning of, say, ‘my advice is that you say no to MMR’, it will rightfully be ridiculed. I’m not a teacher and whilst I can teach math and science, a sensible parent will pay for a qualified tutor.
“Likewise, the term advice should rightfully be attributed to those who are appropriately qualified, and regulated. It was highly confusing to telephone the MAS, seeking simple advice, to then be told they cannot give a personal recommendation as they are not allowed to give advice. If they are not, then why be called an ‘advisory service?’ The standards offered by TPAS and MAS were high from my experience so a name change will be not be distinctive. What it will put to bed is the irritation around false expectations due to the powerful word ‘advice’ being present yet omitted.”
The Money and Pensions Service has a number of challenges ahead, including working on a drawdown comparison tool and it is likely to have to take on the Pension Dashboard project in the immediate future.
Aamina Zafar is one of the UK’s leading financial journalists. She has previously worked as a senior reporter at FT’s Financial Adviser. The award-winning journalist writes regularly on the IFA community, mortgages, pensions and financial regulation.
Further reading on this topic: