The Money Advice Service (MAS) is a publicly-funded body aiming to improve financial capability – a laudable aim, but frankly, dismally executed. For years I’ve thought its website an atrocious use of millions of pounds of such funds – but I’ve kept quiet about it, as I didn’t want to put people off using those of its services that are positive.
Yet I was called to give evidence at Parliament to the Treasury Select Committee, and so, as there’s finally an opportunity to improve things, I decided to be upfront and give my real view. OK, I admit I went into a rant. But this frustration has been building up for a long time – far better than me explaining the point is to show you the video below.
Watch the evidence session here…
Some key times in the session
- 45 mins in (15:03:10) – MPs ask what the MAS is for: This is the evidence session before mine. The MP chairing the panel asks expert witnesses what the MAS’s role is. Embarrassingly for the MAS, none answered.
- 1:01 mins in (15:19:09) – Start of evidence session (with me, Tracey Bleakley from the Personal Finance Education Group and Otto Thoresen from the Association of British Insurers.)
- 1:25 mins in (15:43:09) – Start of my rant.
- 1:29 mins in (15:47:25) – End of my rant. (See if you can spot the MP trying to stop himself clapping.)
- 1:33 mins in (15:51:25) – Otto Thoresen. He’s the guy who wrote the report saying the MAS should be set up. He says something similar to me, but in more diplomatic language (followed by me saying I want the MAS to succeed, it’s how it’s being done that I object to.)
After that, many of the suits there, including some who gave evidence themselves, said to me, "I’m so glad you said that, it’s what we all think. But as we work with them, we have to be more diplomatic."
I’ll let you make your own minds up. I do hope that being critical will make the service improve and better target its facilities rather than kill it. The MAS should be a huge force for good – major elements of it need turning around, though.
PS. I call it publicly funded – but technically it is funded via a levy on the financial services industry. In my view, as that’s compulsory, it’s a form of taxation, so it is public funds.