It’s been a frustrating year for the Money and Pensions Service – MAPS and for businesses that hoped to work with it.
When John Govett was revealed as its new CEO this time last year, I wrote confidently of the Government’s opportunity to build on the success of TPAS and offer ordinary people the help they needed to make the difficult retirement decisions in the Strait of Hormuz.
John Govett was a disappointment; he retreated “for family reasons” from the responsibilities he’d taken up only a few months before and since then Caroline Siarkiewicz has been interim CEO while Chairman Hector finds someone big enough to fill her predecessor’s boots.
Since the appointment of a new CEO is the matter for the Pensions Minister, it will not be till after the election that we will hear who takes MAPS forward.
I met Caroline yesterday afternoon for a meeting I’d long anticipated. Sadly the meeting was delayed , truncated and relocated from MAPS’ swanky HQ to a local coffee shop but it did at least get me back to where I was in Q1 with Govett.
We expect the publication of MAPS strategic plan – which has been a year in the making – and should be published this month. I sensed that there was some flexibility in Caroline’s expectations of what this month means.
I was proved right only an hour after publishing
The current hiatus , caused by there being no permanent leader and no strategic plan is worsened by MAPS having now pensions policy person . Indeed – TPAS’ capacity to educate and stimulate has diminished – its social media output is a trickle and though Pensions Wise is getting a consistent TV campaign the P in MAPS is getting smaller, perhaps they should rebrand MApS.
I cannot find MAPS on Instagram. MAS has some presence on Facebook, This is the last tweet MAPS produced. I admit to not having the eyesight to read it – I guess the tweet is a blind spot…
Got a pensions blind spot? Call The Pensions Advisory Service on 0800 011 3797. https://t.co/ANkfBiYN5P #TalkPensions pic.twitter.com/7Aaf7Us5Pe
— Money & Pensions Service News (@MoneyPensionsUK) October 23, 2019
Whatever MAPS is up to- it’s not getting it’s message out there.
We are only five days from MAPS “money and lets talk pensions week” – I’m glad that the Renfrewshire knew about it, I certainly didn’t
Our event to tie in with #TalkMoney week is happening on the 19th at 10am in Paisley. See https://t.co/dWhA88xrsN for info and to register. We have a full agenda so if you support clients who would benefit from making improved choices about credit, please come along. https://t.co/9JQRQkuLHC
— Renfrewshire Affordable Credit Alliance (@RenfrewshireAf1) November 13, 2019
Google MAPS – where’s the MAP?
I wanted to get an idea of how prominent MAPS is in the world of search engine optimisation.
Google “MAPS” and this is what you get.
MAPS isn’t on the map, even on the google map and when you want to google the “money and pensios service”, you get this guy.
I have the greatest respect for the Renfrewshire Affordable Credit Alliance. They have trumped MAPS to become the acceptable face of Talk Money Week. Crazy guy – crazy image – it’s an Instagram classic.
MAPS’ frustrated – frustrated by MAPS
I left my meeting with Caroline as frustrated as she must be. My offer to work with MAPS was greeted with the suggestion that we might begin to do so when we stopped being a start up – presumably some time after MAPS gets going again after its year off.
If anything sums up MAPS, it’s this image, clipped from a presentation earlier this year, that looks at MAPS’ own governance structure. MAPS may see this as an example of sound governance – I see it as hopelessly overloaded with committees – strangled by bureaucracy
It must be very frustrating for MAPS to have to look at an organisation such as AgeWage which is trying to help it achieve its aim in terms of risk. It must be very disheartening working in a place which has become such a backwater that this article will probably be the most socialised content it gets in November.
Still more frustrating because the person who made TPAS famous has been made about as welcome in MAPS as I was.
Are MAPS really in listening mode?
Everywhere I look , I see opportunities for MAPS to make its mark. When I finish this blog I will be nipping over Blackfriars Bridge to hear how I can hook my organisation up to the Mum and Gransnet.
When I’ve met with Mum and Gransnet I asked them how they worked with MAPS. To my amazement – no one in the room had ever heard of MAPS– though they’d heard of TPAS – some time ago.
Between them Mum and Gransnet host the eyes and ears of over 10m Brits a month, most of them are the Es, D’s and C’s who MAPS needs to reach out to.
One person in the room mentioned that MAPS was probably targeting the A’s and B’s, which is why their paths didn’t cross.
I’d have shared this information with the old TPAS and they would have pressed the invite yourself button and come.
But I didn’t feel it appropriate to suggest to Caroline she came with me to Ogilvy this morning. It would probably have required a risk-assessment for the nearly-new MAPS to decide if this was a suitable input to their information gathering.
MAPS and the dashboard – when I’m 64
MAPS – the Pensions Minister announced – is to be the home of the pension dashboard. The pensions industry welcomed that – the then-new MAPS was being tasked with delivering version one of said dashboard by the end of this year.
We are reaching the end of the year and the expectation has slipped by at least a year. The dashboard steering group is only just getting its feet under the table and the Pensions Bill that would start the mandation of data to the dashboard didn’t make the wash-up.
Whatever emerges in 2020 as dashboard legislation – will not become effective till I’m well into my sixties. When I started planning for the dashboard I was 54- I am 58 now and I don’t expect to see the dashboard fully operative till I am 64.
Frustrated and frustrating
Becalmed and rudderless, MAPS is a bulky containership aground in the gates of the harbour. Until Hector Sants gets the tugs out , it will continue to block progress.
I feel sorry for Caroline and all aboard who are doing so little with so much resource. We need a strong pensions guidance service in the UK and MAPS should be it.
Let’s hope that as we move towards the end of 2019, we aren’t saying the same things about MAPS in a year’s time.