Last month the government announced the closure of the MAS thus bringing an end to one of the more disgraceful and cack-handed episodes of government supposedly trying to help the public. The Treasury said ‘The name ‘Money Advice Service’ has always been misleading as MAS cannot provide regulated advice.’ So why did they not do something about it at the time? In June 2011 a TV ad stated that MAS was ‘Set up by the Government, our advice is independent and unbiased. Oh, and it’s free, how’s that for a breath of fresh air?’
An MAS website at the same time proclaimed ‘If you’re looking for free, clear, unbiased advice to help manage your money, you’re in the right place’. There were 77 formal complaints at this outrageously misleading advertising which, if any IFA had tried something similar, would have earned a whacking great fine. Not the MAS. Clearly bowing to Government pressure, the Advertising Standards Authority declared that ‘…most consumers would understand that references to ‘advice’ in the ad meant that the advertisers offered general information guidance and advice on financial issues rather than providing ‘advice’ in the specific, technical and commercial way that IFA’s offered.’ Check out the ASA website if you don’t believe me! In its 6 years, MAS has squandered over a third of a billion pounds. That would have knocked a big hole in the regulatory fees of those who do give advice.
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