Otto Thoresen was appointed by the Economic Secretary to the Treasury to carry out a review examining the feasibility of delivering a national approach to generic financial advice. Otto Thoresen has now published the final report of the Thoresen Review of Generic Financial Advice (the Report).

In the Report Mr Thoresen uses the term ‘Money Guidance’. This is a working description which is used in the Report to cover what consumers want generic financial advice to cover. This is not just guidance on money matters that shape people’s lives but also something that helps consumers better understand tax and benefits and demystifying technical financial language.

The recommendations that the Report makes include:

  • A national Money Guidance service should be governed by the principles of impartiality, supportiveness, crisis prevention, universality, and should be sales-free.
  • Money Guidance provided by the service should focus on giving people information and guidance on budgeting, saving and borrowing, protection, retirement planning, tax and welfare benefits, and jargon busting. It should stop short of recommending specific products.
  • The most appropriate way of delivering a money guidance service is a partnership model, with a central body to direct the strategy, set standards and deliver some services, but with much of the service actually delivered by accredited partner organisations which could include those who already do such a good job helping people with their money.
  • A UK-wide approach to Money Guidance should be delivered using a multi-channel approach – telephone, face-to-face and web-based service.
  • Money Guidance would need a new brand which encapsulates the principles of the service, most notably that the service is “on my side” and is “sales free”.
  • The marketing strategy for Money Guidance should be multifaceted, to appeal to the different groups the service needs to reach. This should encompass national and regional marketing campaigns and engagement activities; trusted intermediaries; and social networks and viral marketing.
  • The FSA should take forward the national Money Guidance service project. In view of the real benefits that would be delivered by a national Money Guidance service, the costs of providing the service should be equally split between the Government and the financial services industry.
  • The industry’s share should be raised via a levy, with contributors drawn from firms regulated by the FSA, consumer credit firms regulated by the Office of Fair Trading, and National Savings and Investment.
  • To ensure that the national Money Guidance service can be up and running as soon as possible, the Government should set up a regional pathfinder service as soon as it has had the opportunity to consider the Report.

View Thoresen Review of Generic Financial Advice: Final Report, 3 March 2008