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PFS suggests new guidance body deliver financial health check initiative


Every working adult in the UK would be offered a voucher for a financial health check session with a professional financial adviser, under a proposal developed by the Personal Finance Society.

On Tuesday, the Society wrote to the relevant Ministers including the Economic Secretary to the Treasury and the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, highlighting the public interest proposal and calling for the Government to work with the Society to take the initiative forward.

The idea featured as a core recommendation in the Society's response to the Government's public financial guidance review consultation, submitted last week.

The Society suggests the proposed single financial guidance body could build on work already undertaken by the Society and the personal finance profession more broadly. Many financial advisers offer a no obligation introductory session to their clients, and hundreds more currently volunteer their time and expertise to deliver free guidance sessions through the Society's MoneyPlan initiative, run in collaboration with Citizens Advice.

The new guidance body could play a leading role in branding, facilitating and overseeing the initiative, in cooperation with government departments including the Department for Work & Pensions. The Society could also help by creating a subset of its existing and highly successful yourmoney accredited directory, and directing consumers to participating advisers in their area.

Personal Finance Society chief executive Keith Richards said:

"The need for consumers to have access to financial advice is greater than ever, and we believe that this initiative offers a practical solution to bridging the current advice gap and getting consumers who need advice in front of a qualified professional. A Government voucher scheme would give many who have never thought of professional advice a first-hand experience of its value and would demonstrate a real commitment by the new guidance body to collaborate with the personal finance profession to achieve workable outcomes in the public interest. Many advisers are already delivering introductory financial advice sessions to consumers at their own expense and a voucher to cover the cost of a qualified guidance session would increase access and protect the interests of more consumers against poor planning and scams. Our experience, and specifically our MoneyPlan initiative, has shown that professional financial advisers are eager to offer their services to consumers in need of financial advice."

Designed to be holistic in its nature, a financial health check session could be offered to consumers at a time in their working lives when they are best placed to develop a long-term course of action for achieving their financial and life goals. Participating advisers could deduct a proportion of the cost of each session from their next FCA levy, based on a rate per redeemed voucher submitted.

The sessions would be delivered by telephone or face-to-face, and would result in a summary of options that might include full financial advice where the need is evident.