Make financial advice available to all, CEO tells Government
How easy is it
to get decent financial guidance these days?
We’ve all noticed how quickly money products are changing. At Money Hospital, it’s amazing how much there is to keep up with. This year’s volatile
markets have led to a bewildering array of changes from one month to the next.
No wonder it’s hard to know what to do for the best at any one time!
That’s why the boss of Aegon UK, a large Edinburgh-based financial services company, this week challenged Gordon Brown’s government to make financial advice more available for the British public, as part of its response to the current turbulence in the market.
Otto Thoresen, speaking at the Labour Party conference, told delegates that the problem is we simply don’t know where to look for help:
“People from all walks of life are looking for advice, help and guidance to calm their fears and address their concerns.
It’s time to make wider access to professional financial advice a key part of the government’s response to the current crisis.”
The government seems to agree with him. Earlier this year it approved a National Money Guidance Service, which should be trialled by the FSA in certain parts of the country next year.
If this service goes ahead, it should:
- provide free financial guidance to all kinds of people and families
- help people know where to go to get impartial help on all their money issues
- be accessible through a variety of channels: the Internet, over the phone, and with face-to-face advice.
Yvette Cooper, Chief Secretary to the Treasury explained:
“It could be working out credit card repayments, budgeting for a new baby, or planning for retirement – people have to make serious financial decisions at every stage of their lives. Getting some free, independent and trusted guidance can make all the difference. It could also help prevent people getting ripped off by loan sharks or caught out by the small print on a dodgy financial deal.”
“The Government already offers free debt advice for those with serious financial problems. But plenty of ordinary families could also do with some free money guidance at many points in their lives.”
Now from our point of view this looks like good news if the trial proves successful. Because hopefully, it won’t just mean help in a crisis – but will lead to better planning, budgeting and investing for millions of normal people.
However, it won’t extend to particular product advice. For example: government-sponsored advice won’t go as far as recommending you a particular mortgage, for example, or giving you a rundown of the market leading credit cards. That’s something you’d still need to use a professional adviser for.
- Get unbiased, FSA-qualified advice choosing a mortgage
- Get debt advice
- Get a Credit Card health check
But with money worries overtaking a lot of people right now, the new service is clearly aimed at helping people avoid financial hot water in the future, through better planning (and knowing where to turn if in doubt). What do you think?