Julian Knight: Money Advice Service needs to find new ways to reach people

The MAS must find more interesting ways to draw people in
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The Independent Online

I have had a lot of emails and calls about my comment last week on the terrible state of financial advice in this country. It seems most agree that something must be done – but what? No one seems to be sure.

However, none of the correspondents have expressed much faith in the existing Money Advice Service. This follows the revelation that MPs consider MAS to be a prime candidate for the scrap heap.

In response to this, MAS has sent me a run-down of its targets for 2014. It all looks fairly impressive with so many million new "consumer contacts" and this and that. I'm sure there are capable people at MAS but it needs much more than ambitious targets. It needs a fundamental rethink.

The problem with the MAS approach – build a website, market it and people will use it – feels so behind the times. The website content itself is bland because it has been designed by committee. What MAS needs is new direction, start taking their cue from the sort of gonzo consumerism pioneered by the likes of Martin Lewis – be more judgemental, more confrontational, clearly on the side of the consumer, rather than a boring old website.

Reach out through Instagram and Twitter – and I don't just mean get an account and issue corporate statements, which is what they are doing – but find more visually interesting and engaging ways to draw people in.

Perhaps MAS ought to focus on getting across just a few or even just one key message: that you shouldn't spend more than you earn, for instance. A message when repeated often and consistently enough will get through – take the changing attitude to drink-driving in the UK. Promoting financial personal responsibility rather than financial capability is the way to go.

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