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MAS boss backs body to deliver value for money

by Michelle Abrego on Jan 08, 2014 at 09:56

MAS boss backs body to deliver value for money

You would imagine Money Advice Service (MAS) chief executive Caroline Rookes is happy to see the back of 2013. In February last year she replaced Tony Hobman, who had faced criticism over his £350,000 pay package, only to find herself under fire.

Answering critics

The MAS’s £18 million spend on marketing was savaged by MPs in June, with Treasury sub-committee chairman George Mudie putting it bluntly: ‘We don’t know what the hell you are doing with it’. The committee followed that with a damning report on the MAS published last month. It branded the organisation ‘not fit for purpose’, although it stopped short of calling for it to be scrapped.

Just days later the National Audit Office weighed in with its verdict on the MAS, saying it had not yet proved its money advice offering represented value for money. It did say, however, that performance had improved, and urged the organisation to build stronger links with financial advisers.

Rookes (pictured) has defended the MAS against MPs’ criticisms, arguing their conclusions were largely based on evidence taken more than a year ago, although she is conscious of the scrutiny that has been levelled at the organisation’s expenditure.

Promising to spend wisely

Last month, the MAS set itself a £77.5 million budget for 2014/15, down slightly on £78.3 million for 2013/14. The organisation’s marketing spend has been kept at £13.5 million, the same level as last year, representing a reduction on the £18 million spent in 2012/13.

‘I am very conscious that we are using money from the financial services sector, the levy, and we need to make sure we spend it wisely,’ said Rookes. ‘I want us to be as efficient and effective as we can.

‘There has been a lot of criticism about our marketing spend. We plan for it to be broadly levelled next year compared to this, and I think that is reasonable,’ she said.

Engaging the public

Rookes said without money spent on marketing to raise awareness of its work, building up tools and capacity was ‘not a lot of use’.

‘There will always be an amount of spend that we need to ensure engagement,’ she said. ‘But also we’re moving from just raising awareness of the MAS; our publicity and marketing is also about getting advice and information across.

‘That’s the direction we want to go in more and more: to combine awareness with giving people advice. It might be the publicity becomes enough and they don’t need to use the site.’

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10 comments so far. Why not have your say?

BMcQ

Jan 08, 2014 at 11:08

What's your Hobbies?

Spending other peoples money!

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Jonathan Kirby

Jan 08, 2014 at 11:12

Are these figures correct?

Is she seriously saying more than a third of the adult population are using the MAS or is this number of site visits?

And what about a breakdown between debt related enquiries and those interested in saving?

My suspicions remain.

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BGM

Jan 08, 2014 at 11:27

From her CV she has been spending other people's money all her working life.

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Richard R

Jan 08, 2014 at 11:33

"But also we’re moving from just raising awareness of the MAS; our publicity and marketing is also about getting advice and information across"

advice eh? Ooops

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John Burchett

Jan 08, 2014 at 11:41

Good Joke

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One is afraid

Jan 08, 2014 at 12:27

"MAS boss backs body to deliver value for money"

You poor deluded individual. The only financial calculations I would find as credible (not palatable) from Ms. Rookes are those concering her salary / bonuses / pension / severence payments available up until the time she iwill be replaced. Not forgetting the probability of getting another role on a similar basis.

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks"

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Cromwellsbrain

Jan 08, 2014 at 13:13

Lots of points to get angry about BUT....

...what grinds my gears is the slogan at the end of the current TV campaign, which states that MAS was '....set up by the Government'.

It does NOT say that it is paid for by a levy of fees from the regulated adviser community - and infers quite the opposite!

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Jonathan Kirby

Jan 08, 2014 at 14:02

Cromwellsbrain,

We have all been set up by the government. Good and proper.

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Julian Stevens

Jan 08, 2014 at 15:25

We hope the MAS will publish:-

1. the number of its clients whose affairs it refers to IFA's.

2. the number of IFA's who report having actually heard from these clients,

3. the number of those IFA's who report that useful, profitable business has been transacted as a result and that

4. AIFA will press the MAS to do so.

Yeah, I know, some hope. But these requirements have to be articulated.

P.S. To Cromwell's Brain (who or whatever you are) ~ the correct word in this copntext is implies, not infers.

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Cromwellsbrain

Jan 09, 2014 at 09:11

@Julian Stevens

Thank you for the correction; you are right.

IFAs; not IFA's

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