This may not have had the publicity it needs or maybe deserves, but 2019 has seen the quiet launch of this new entity.
What has happened is that three existing government service providers have been brought together to provide high level guidance to consumers.
This was brought about following the Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018.
The three previous bodies were the Money Advice Service, the Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise. This means that, for the first time, the provision of debt advice, money guidance and pensions guidance is all under one body, resulting in a more streamlined service and providing better access to information and guidance.
It is important to state that this is NOT a service intending on replacing the professional advice available from various sectors of the financial services profession, but rather a service to give high level guidance. It is not authorised to give any sort of financial advice and, in many circumstances, it will direct people to seek the appropriate professional advice.
The SFGB is funded by levies on both the financial services industry and pension schemes. The new body is sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), but will also engage with HM Treasury, which is responsible for policy on financial capability and debt advice.
This body is chaired by Sir Hector Sants, a name familiar to many from his days at the FSA.
The SFGB is very much a working title and a more ‘user friendly’ name will be decided on during the coming year.
Further details are available at its new website.
According to their website, the SFGB has five core functions:
- Pensions guidance – to provide information to the public on matters relating to workplace and personal pensions.
- Money guidance – to provide information designed to enhance people’s understanding and knowledge of financial matters and day-to-day money management skills.
- Debt advice – to provide people in England with information and advice on debt.
- Consumer protection – to work with government and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to protect consumers.
- Strategy – to work with the financial services industry, devolved authorities and the public and voluntary sectors to develop a national strategy to improve people’s financial capability, help them manage debt and provide financial education for children and young people.
Much of its work will not be focused on the insurance and protection market, but as 2019 develops, we will see more of the body and its work, so it is important to be aware of its services.