Marital arguments, Scrappy business and why MAS and Advisers should get along.

Like most married couples Cassie and I sometimes fall out.

The strange thing is it’s tough to understand why as our goals and ambitions are relatively similar…

Happy contented kids who make the most of their potential.

Plenty of interesting, fun and memorable experiences.

and

Living a life true to what we believe in.

However even though what we are Mardriving for is pretty similar the fact still remains…

Cassie and I sometimes fall out.

Now I’m a million mile away from being a relationship expert (Cassie could probably tell you that!) but every time we argue, fall out or get annoyed with each other there’s probably only three reasons…

Firstly, although we (mainly) agree on what we’re looking to achieve we disagree on what we see the route to get there as being different.

Secondly, we agree but we don’t communicate well enough.

and

Thirdly, we each get caught up in the argument that we lose sight on what the issue was in the first place (have you ever got to the end of a row and realised that you can’t remember what the issue was in the first place? Ok, erm, just me then!)

Knowing what I think I know about marriage (which is obviously very little) tells me one thing about financial services…

The relationship between the professional advice community and the Money Advice Service is like an incredibly dysfunctional marriage.

Broadly speaking (although the comments will probably tell me otherwise!) most advisers agree that the goal of the Money Advice Service is an noble one…

To empower the UK with the knowledge, skills and tools to manage money more effectively.

So, if we’re agreed that a more financially empowered population is better for everyone why isn’t MAS and the adviser community more connected?

I reckon it’s the same reasons why Cassie and I don’t always agree….

We disagree on how to achieve the goal

I recently wrote in Professional Adviser about the Guidance Guarantee on what I believe they could do to make it a success.

Now I’m pretty sure the team at MAS, or any other government department, are not overly concerned about my perspective.

I’m speculating but I reckon the reason is in the approach.

ex-Civil Servants and ex-employees of large institutions (which is what MAS is filled with) have a different way of seeing, thinking about and doing things when compared to a scrappy relatively small business owner like me (and probably you).

Who’s right?

I’d suggest that being nimble, adaptable, innovative and entrepreneurial would have some value. They’d probably suggest that big problems need big solutions and my techniques aren’t appropriate.

The answer lies somewhere in the middle…but we never get there.

The reason?

We don’t communicate well enough

I reckon this is an issue for both sides…

The very recent remarks at the Labour party conference by Caroline Rookes (the Head of MAS) where she raised concerns over Adviser ethics were unnecessary and disappointing.

On the other side of the coin whilst some of the comments made about both the guidance guarantee and MAS by the advisory community are inflammatory and unnecessarily insulting.

I’m all for robust, challenging and engaging communication on both sides but when it results in a loss of trust it doesn’t do any of us any favours…

So, what’s the issue?

We lose sight of what’s important in the first place

The ambition of the money advice service (and in time the guidance guarantee) are similar to most advisers…

Helping our customers get closer to the lives they want by helping them achieve their financial goals.

However we get lost in the other issues…

Who pays for MAS is a big one.

For what it’s worth I’m not a great fan of paying for a service which could be way more effective and efficient and have far greater impact per pound than it does now.

I also reckon the use of the word “Advice” in the service doesn’t help consumers who want actual advice understand the difference.

However I do get the benefits of a service whose goal is to provide much needed support to many the market cannot currently afford to help.

The fact that they doesn’t perform the task as well as the should, or that you and I pay for it, or that they don’t seem to respect the role advisers play in the process are all important to discuss and consider.

However actually they are all ultimately peripheral issues which mean we lose sight on an aim we can all get behind. To help we all need to get back (as Simon Sinek might put it) to our “collective why?”

Helping people get closer to their financial goals.

Maybe advisers and MAS will never get on.

Maybe MAS doesn’t feel they need to engage with “third parties”, even the one’s who help fund it, to deliver what it should in the market.

or

Maybe the market will develop alternative solutions which sit in the middle so that the remit and scope of MAS reduces.

However if we agree that we want to achieve the same broad goals, share ideas on how to do it, communicate more clearly and not get lost in the peripheral arguments and focus on the end game we might move closer to what all of us would like to achieve.

What do you think?