What is going on at MAPS?

I want MAPS to succeed. It needs an experienced person as its CEO who understands pensions.

Here’s MAPS’ news as  Pension Age presents it.

The Money and Pensions Service (Maps) chief executive officer, John Govett, has resigned eight months into his four-and-a-half-year term.

Maps chair Hector Sants announced yesterday (10 June) that Govett had decided to leave due to an “impending family relocation”, just two months after the official launch of the service.

Maps partnerships and commissioning director, Caroline Siarkiewicz, has been appointed acting chief executive while the board conducts a search for a permanent replacement.

Govett, who joined the then Single Financial Guidance Body (SFGB) in October 2018, was responsible for integrating Pensions Wise, the Money Advice Service and The Pensions Advisory Service and helped to develop the ‘transitional business plan’ for 2019/20.

In a statement, Sants said: “We regret to announce that our CEO John Govett has resigned from his role with the Maps due to an impending family relocation.

“John and I have agreed that the production of the national strategy should be overseen by those who will have the responsibility for delivering it. John’s family relocation will mean he is unable to make that long-term commitment to Maps, and so now is the best time for any change.”

Govett’s previous experience includes leadership roles across the public, private and charitable sectors including as group chief executive at Ixion Holdings, a not-for-profit skills and employment group of companies, managing director of Surrey County Council, Shaw Trust Charity Board Executive and P&O Ferries commercial board director.

The statement to the press made by Hector Sants (MAPS chair) can be read here. 

We don’t really know why John Govett has felt impelled to walk away and it may be that there is something much sadder than the stated reason. I wish him well personally.

A screenshot is available at the end of this blog for those who don’t click through


Here are the implications as I see it

  1. MAPS is due to deliver a national strategy on how it is intending to plug the demands our pension system created by the pension freedoms, by auto-enrolment and by the wholesale shift from DB to DC. The delivery of that strategy was in the hands of MAPS’ CEO and he has walked away.
  2. MAPS is trying to bring the highly successful TPAS and the generally unsuccessful MAS and Pension Wise under one roof and make something “better together”. The delivery of that plan was in the hands of MAPS’ CEO and he has walked away
  3. MAPS is trying to establish a publicly useable pensions dashboard by the end of this year. The delivery of that plan was in the hands of MAPS’ CEO and he has walked away

A year ago, I pleaded on this blog for the job to be given to Michelle Cracknell CBE

Despite her applying for the job of CEO, she was passed over and the job given to John Govett. Now he has walked away.

The Government is left with a ship with no rudder , tasked with delivering three important tasks immediately.

Meanwhile the person who should have been at the helm is sidelined.

The implications of Govett’s early departure are obvious, the dashboard project will be delayed again, the integration will be set back and the strategic plan will be unowned.

A new broom would take time to settle into the role and another year will go by when nothing much is done. This is bad news all round – no matter how Hector Sants tries to paint it.


In listening mode?

I’ve met John Govett who spent most of the meeting talking at me about what he intended to do. Since then I have been in a room when he dismissed my concerns about the delays in delivering the dashboard with an assurance that he was in charge and that he would deliver.

In short I have not seen much listening from MAPS, I have heard of intent but seen little progress,

There is no one in MAPS who is reaching out to the people in pensions trying to get to grips with the demands of the public. MAPS has become what MAS was, an anonymous quango which eats up its share of levies and delivers back little but words.

I was prepared to bite my tongue because I wanted to give John Govett , Hector Sants and MAPS a chance. But my patience is at an end.

It is time that big Government swallowed its pride and started using the resources it has at his disposal. Since losing the services of Michelle Cracknell, we have also lost Lesley Titcomb who like Cracknell got a CBE in the new years honours. Titcomb left her office as CEO of tPR and she too is at a loose end.

We need these two capable women re-employed putting MAPS to rights. We do not need any more people being parachuted in as “safe pairs of hands”. 

If the Government is in listening mode , then listen. MAPS needs a person who knows about pensions who is strong enough to advise not just Government but the people who use it, what MAPS is and why it is valuable.


There is no more time to waste

The disruption from the closure of TPAS has gone on for a lot longer than Govett was in post. A national treasure has been lost and nothing about MAPS suggests to me that it knows how to replace the energy that Cracknell and her team brought to us.

It has changed its name from the Single Financial Guidance Body , it has appointed Chris Curry to run the pensions dashboard but it has singularly failed to impress anyone that it is tackling the very real problems facing people trying to plan their financial future.

The advice is simple, bring back Michelle Cracknell CBE to MAPS and put her in charge this instant.

Do not prevaricate Government, get on with it. Put Michelle Cracknell and Lesley Titcomb as your shortlist and see who wants the job more. Much as I like and respect Lesley, Michelle Cracknell is the person for the job,

What is going on at MAPS is anyone’s guess but it is quite clear that it is in a sorry state. It needs someone of their calibre to sort things out.


 Appendix; That media statement in full

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen, Director of First Actuarial, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to What is going on at MAPS?

  1. Couldn’t agree more

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