Money and Pensions Service to be 'heart' of improving nation’s financial wellbeing - Sants

The Money and Pensions Service will be at the “heart” of improving the nation’s financial wellbeing when it publishes its national strategy in the Autumn of this year, its chairman Hector Sants has said.

Speaking at the Pensions Management Institute Pensions Aspects Live today, 3 April, Sants outlined his vision for the new body, which merges Pensions Wise, The Pensions Advisory Service and the Money Advice Service, with a view for the strategy to be up and running independently by 2021.

According to Sants, over the next five years the body’s key responsibility will be to raise the importance of financial wellbeing with policy makers, to a point where it is comparable with “mental and physical health” issues.

“Financial wellbeing really matters because it was central to personal wellbeing, furthermore it is clear our state of financial wellbeing is not as good as it could be,” he said.

“Figures show that almost half of the people you [the pensions industry] interact with associate your product with anxiety and I suggest that should be a matter of concern.

“We see ourselves at the heart of the challenge of improving financial wellbeing, our parliamentary mandate means we have a very clear vision, a vision of society where everyone makes the most of their money and pensions.”

From Monday, as part of its medium-term strategy, the Money and Pensions Service will be engaging with stakeholders across the country, with a view to publishing its findings in the Autumn.

Sants said: “Our autumn publication will have two components, firstly a national strategy to create the building blocks to deliver a financially capable nation. This is of course a long-term endeavour which success will depend on the support of all.

“Secondly, a three year Single Financial Guidance Body (SFGB) business plan, setting out the specific activity and goals for which the SFGB will be directly accountable.

“The focus for the SFGB is thus two-fold; to create and lead a national strategy and to deliver, either directly or through commissioning, help to the most vulnerable of those in debt or facing key financial decisions with regard to retirement and pensions.”

As part of developing its strategy, the Money and Pension Service said it will consider the degrees to which it “can and should” drive the change to the way we think about money.

“We need to help the vulnerable through ensuring that those who need guidance on retirement planning receive it, ensuring all those who are in problem debt can access fee debt advice,” he added.

“Achieving the vision will require individuals to be financially educated, to be equipped with the necessary tools, guidance and advice and access to the necessary services that are affordable, and critically have the right relationship with money.”

Furthermore, the combined service will look to work closely with the industry to ensure it is doing everything to put the consumer at the centre of everything it does, allowing the individual to empowered to make their own choices.

“It is essential that society confronts the issue of financial shame, if we are to progress and achieve the vision I have outlined,” he concluded.

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