Created from three existing providers of government-sponsored financial advice
The Single Financial Guidance Body (SFGB), an organisation made up of The Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise, has launched with five core functions.
Offering advice around debt, money guidance and pensions, the SFGB is funded by levies on both the financial services industry and pension schemes. Sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), it will also engage with HM Treasury, which is responsible for policy on financial capability and debt advice.
"The new organisation has a clear mission to help everyone manage their personal finances as well as their circumstances allow across the nation," said Sir Hector Sants, SFGB chairman. "We are creating an organisation which is seen as transparent, accountable, effective and above all respected by all, working hand-in-hand with the industry, our staff and our partners."
Five core functions
Main focuses of the SFGB include:
- 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 - enabling the SFGB to work with Government and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in protecting consumers.
- Strategy - 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.
The SFGB will continue the services of the three organisations as usual, with staff from each of them transferring to the organisation under the new board and leadership team. A new name for the SFGB will be sought later in 2019.
"It's great to see our new SFGB launch and hit the ground running," said Scottish Widows' Johnny Timpson, who heads up the DWP Access to Insurance Working Group. "In addition to its five core functions, the new body does and increasingly will have a crucial role to play in improving consumer financial resilience to income shocks, especially so where these result from life-changing and/or limiting health events/diagnosis.
"As a Building Resilient Households Group (BRHG) member, and together my BRHG colleagues, I very much look forward to supporting the SFGB in this area in particular," he added.
Swiss Re's technical manager Ron Wheatcroft also welcomed the launch.
"It has an important role to play, alongside market participants, in improving consumer understanding of how financial products and services can make them more resilient to financial shocks which could happen to them and their families through death or disability," he said.
"In particular, it can help understanding of how private and State/public provision fit together. This will be important as consumers need to take more responsibility for protecting their income sources and commitments," he added. "With government launching a Green Paper on social care funding very soon, the new body should help to improve understanding across the whole population of the roles and responsibilities citizens will have and how they can be addressed."
"The body should also provide help to vulnerable smaller businesses," Wheatcroft continued. "Life and health-related shocks can have a very big impact and threaten the very survival of the business yet most have taken little or no steps to address this.
"The new body cannot achieve all of this on its own and I know that many in the market wish it well and will be willing to support it as it develops its range of services," he said.
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