On April 8 2019 it was announced that the UK’s new single financial guidance body would be called the Money and Pensions Service. It assumes responsibility for the debt and general financial guidance previously provided by the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.
The chairman of the new organisation will be familiar to many within the financial services industry. Sir Hector Sants was Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Conduct Authority from July 2007 until February 2010 and then became the regulator’s Managing Director until June 30 2012. In 2013 he was appointed as Head of Compliance, Government and Regulatory Regulation at Barclays, but he left this position after a short time due to ill health. He returned to work in 2015 at US consultancy firm Oliver Wyman.
Sir Hector has already given two speeches on his new role. Both speeches were entitled ‘The role of the Money and Pensions Service in supporting customers in personal finance’.
Speaking to the Retail Banking Conference of UK Finance in March 2019, he highlighted the importance of the Service’s work, given that:
- 9 million (more than one sixth of the total of 52 million) UK adults are in problem debt
- 11 million (more than one fifth) have less than £100 in savings
- 3 million (almost half) do not feel confident making decisions about financial products and services
He therefore listed his organisation’s objectives as including:
- Convincing policymakers in government and elsewhere to treat financial well-being as a top priority, so that its awareness in society was at a level comparable to that of mental and physical health
- Ensuring everyone who needs pensions guidance has access to it
- Ensuring free assistance is available for everyone with a debt problem
- Providing sufficient support for everyone whose financial distress impacts their mental and physical health
At the PMI – Pensions Aspects Live Conference in April 2019, he addressed many of the same areas, but also spoke of his vision to create “a society where everyone makes the most of their money and pensions.”
The CEO of the Money and Pensions Service is John Govett, who has previously worked for a number of organisations in the public, private and charity sectors.
Mr Govett’s first speech in his new role was at the Service’s official launch event, and he began by stating the organisation’s ambitious aims:
“We want to be the place to go to for combined money guidance, debt support, pensions guidance, pension freedoms and then also a pensions non-commercial dashboard.”
He said that “financial wellbeing is increasingly recognised as one of the biggest socio-economic challenges that our society needs to crack” and commented on the figure of almost nine million people in problem debt that had been mentioned in earlier speeches by Sir Hector. However, Mr Govett added that only around one quarter of these people sought help for their difficulties.
Sir Hector had commented in general about the more than 20 million people who don’t feel confident making financial decisions in general, but Mr Govett revealed that 22 million people did not feel that they knew enough to plan effectively for their retirement.
Mr Govett said that the Service will deliver assistance via a number of channels, including: the web, webchat, phone and face-to-face. He described his five priorities as:
- Streamline and simplify – delivering organisational efficiencies as the three previous organisations are integrated
- Listen and engage – the Service is running a series of “listening events” in ten cities around the UK and talking to up to 1,000 people from all sectors
- Invest and grow – improving the capacity, quality and efficiency of his organisation’s offering, and investing in new front-line staff
- Innovate and test – developing new insights to understand consumer needs at different life stages
- Build and strengthen – developing a customer focused culture amongst the Service’s staff
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