The Money Advice Service (MAS) is a body set up by government to provide consumers with financial education and advice. The government committed to review MAS before the end of this Parliament, and has confirmed that an independent reviewer will be appointed to carry this out.
The review will be led by Christine Farnish, who has previously served as Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Pension Funds and as Chairman of Consumer Futures, and will report to the Economic Secretary to the Treasury by the end of 2014.
The review will:
- make an assessment of the need for consumer education and advice, including how this may evolve as, for example, individuals have greater freedom over their retirement options, and the role that MAS should play in the wider consumer education and advice landscape;
- assess how effectively and efficiently MAS is meeting this need through its current approach and delivery models; and
- recommend any changes to MAS’s approach and delivery models that would enable it to better meet this need.
Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Andrea Leadsom said:
I am delighted to announce that Christine Farnish has agreed to lead the independent review of the Money Advice Service. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge and understanding of consumer needs, along with experience in industry and a strong operational track record.
A key part of the government’s long term economic plan is ensuring consumers have access to high-quality financial education and advice.
Christine Farnish said:
An Independent Review of the Money Advice Service is timely in view of the considerable public interest and debate around the service, the new regulatory framework and the government’s recent announcement on pensions. I will be taking a thorough look at MAS, including what it does and how effective it has been in meeting consumer need to date, and I will recommend any changes that would better enable it to meet this need.
I will report to Ministers by Christmas and look forward to hearing from all stakeholders with an interest in helping ensure consumers are more savvy about managing their money and getting a better deal from financial services markets. I will be publishing a call for evidence very shortly.
Christine Farnish CBE chaired Consumer Focus from 2010 until its transfer to the Citizens Advice Service in March 2014, and also chaired the Family and Parenting Institute. Prior to that she was a Managing Director at Barclays, Chief Executive Officer at the National Association of Pension Funds, Consumer Director at the Financial Services Authority and at Oftel, and held a number of senior roles in local government.
Christine’s early career was at the Countryside Commission. She has also served on the boards of the Office of Fair Trading, the Advertising Standards Authority, ING Direct and Papworth NHS Trust. She is currently Chair of the P2PFA, a Civil Service Commissioner and a non-executive director on the boards of ABTA, Ofwat and BSUH.
HM Treasury has published terms of reference for the independent review.
The independent review of the Money Advice Service will be issuing a call for evidence shortly. All enquiries to the review team should be directed to MASreview@hmtreasury.gsi.gov.uk. Please note that press enquiries should be directed to the Treasury press office.