What’s in a name? The Money and Pensions Service (or MAPS for short)

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

“Which came first the chicken or the egg?” 
The question for which there is no one right answer. It could be either. In most situations, of course, it is usually much more clear-cut.

In the case of acronyms, logic would suggest that as they are supposed to be derived from the title of the organisation, product or whatever they represent. They would be a secondary consideration not a starting point in the process.

But I am not sure that always applies.

Take for example, the name of the public health charity that works to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco - Action on Smoking and Health.

Was it really fortuitous that the main letters in their title spelt out and produced the acronym ASH? Or did ASH come first with the full title of the organisation made to fit in afterwards?

In the world of pensions we have the National Employment Savings Trust, itself a bit of a mouthful, but very conveniently translating into NEST with its connotations of a nest-egg savings plan. Did the same thing happen here?

There is probably nothing basically wrong with this approach. It’s a bit disingenuous but if a catchy acronym helps promote the service and makes people more aware of it, so much the better.

I did wonder, however, about the latest arrival on to the scene - the Money and Pensions Service - which replaces the hitherto provisionally named “Single Financial Guidance Body”.

To its credit the new merged body, which combines Pension Wise, MAS and TPAS, has avoided the treacherous word ‘advice’ in its name. There seems to be agreement that doing so, as its predecessors did, would only have added to confusion over what advice is.

"I can’t help feeling that the new body’s full title might have benefitted from words like “help” or “assistance” being included to amplify what the service is there to do"

But the new title is a bit bland and extremely vague in respect of what it is and what it actually does. Because of that it seems very unlikely it would immediately resonate with the public and that could be a problem.

This is perhaps why the title was decided upon with the acronym MAPS in mind – or, as in other examples, the acronym came first.

MAPS, yes that is quite clever. It sort of rolls off the tongue and sounds like, well, a map - the sort of thing you might use as a guide to get you where you want to be.

Will that be enough? I can’t help feeling that the new body’s full title might have benefitted from words like “help” or “assistance” being included to amplify what the service is there to do.

However, although a name like the “Money and Pensions Help Service” might be a bit clearer it doesn’t unfortunately produce a meaningful acronym so it’s a non-starter on that count.

But, hey, at the end of the day what’s in a name? The new body needs to sell itself, of course, but it’s how it performs and the results that it achieves that really matter, and we shall only be able to judge that when it gets off the ground and becomes fully operational over a period of time.

Article originally appeared in moneymarketing.co.uk