On her last day at MAS, Yvonne MacDermid OBE reflects on her career with the organisation.

After more than 23 years I have taken the decision to step down from the role of Chief Executive at Money Advice Scotland, and to start a new chapter in my life – one where I take the charity, the team, the memories, the incredible journey with me in my heart, and I know I can look back on all that has been achieved during the past with pride. People make a charity like Money Advice Scotland, and always remember there is no “I” in team.

For me, leaving MAS is a big wrench as it has been a huge part of my life, and in many ways it has been a family, and I have brought the children up, and now, it is time to let go.

Money Advice Scotland has always had a really important part to play, but now more than ever given the COVID pandemic. Our mission to “be the driving force towards the financial wellbeing of the people of Scotland” is what motivates staff, and with the knowledge that we are making a difference to society.

We have stated values at Money Advice Scotland to be open, passionate, effective and progressive, and we aim to uphold these values on a daily basis. Since I first became involved in MAS when it was set up in 1989 – (indeed before then when it was just an idea), I was passionate about ensuring that people could access quality free, independent, impartial, and confidential advice. Also that we address injustice or detriment where it exists. In other words give a powerful voice to the voiceless, whether that is our members, or the public at large. That passion for me remains true to this day.

As Chief Executive I have aimed to get MAS on the map, and where appropriate, a seat at every table across the nation. Not just in Scotland, but across the UK and beyond. It has been often said that we punch above our weight, and I believe that is very true, but we need not just good people working for MAS, but also those who believe in what we are aiming to achieve, who are as passionate as we are,  and importantly willing to fund us. Trust is at the heart of what we do. We need to push boundaries and be innovative, and not be afraid to take risks – calculated ones of course. Our recent projects have demonstrated the importance and demand for fintech, and we have responded to that by having a new digital project, and a video conferencing project. Also, all of our debt advice and financial capability training is now virtual.  

Over the years, there have been many staff changes from the proverbial one man (or two) and the dog, to a staff of 18. I can remember our first “big break”.  We received a grant from the then National Lottery Charities Board – I couldn’t believe it –  £140,441 in August 1997. That was the start of the funding, which demonstrated our worth. We employed our first Policy Officer and Training Officers, and then as they say, the rest is history. Over the years we were very fortunate to have the support of the Accountant in Bankruptcy, Scottish Government and others like the Money Advice Trust. Also contributions from the credit industry. All the contributions have enabled MAS to deliver services, which are charitable activities.

I am proud to say that over the 23 years we have raised millions in funding and we have utilised this money to trailblaze a path, where others have followed. I am grateful to all of our supporters many of whom have not just given us funding, but have given us real moral support.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the people who perform the magic, and on occasion accomplish mission impossible – the staff, and the Board. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.