Yvonne MacDermid OBE was one of the founding members of Money Advice Scotland
A chief executive who has led a charity from its inception to the present day is stepping down from the role.
Money Advice Scotland’s Yvonne MacDermid OBE will leave at the turn of the year after spending more than two decades at the debt charity.
“I’ve been thinking about when is the right time to go for a while,” she told TFN.
“My desire was to make a difference, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I’m passionate about what we deliver. We’ve made a lot of changes over the years, we’ve introduced financial education programmes, we’ve had a helpline and now a digital project, we’ve done various pieces of influential research in the past on homelessness and on the provision of debt advice.
“I just feel the time is right and that I’ve achieved a lot. I’m proud of it and feel privileged to have worked alongside captains of industry, including all the charities I’ve worked with.”
MacDermid joined as a volunteer for the steering group that set up the charity in April 1997. Money Advice Scotland (MAS) was formed on the back of research by the Scottish Consumer Council that showed the need for an umbrella body to represent debt advisers and look at free independent advice services and access to personal financial information.
Previously, MacDermid had served in the police and went on to work for Trading Standards. She’d always wanted to be involved in consumer protection, and started this by examining whether advertisements on the television, radio and in the press met standards. This gave her a good grounding for starting up the debt advice organisation.
“You do it as a team, but at the start I lived and breathed the job. As a volunteer, I was using my holidays and flexi time to do everything that needed to be done. When I became chief executive, it wasn’t a huge transition as I’d already been doing a lot in terms of fundraising and promoting the organisation.
“I wanted to make sure that we had our feet at the table, particularly in London. Being a very small organisation then, it was very much a case of one woman and the dog.
“Growing the organisation has meant more people to share the load and to deliver on our objectives.”
The charity played a key role in ramping up controls around high interest short term loans, and in helping to create the debt arrangement scheme, which was designed to help people in financial difficulty in Scotland achieve a debt free future.
The organisation is seeing that the demography of debt is changing, as it is experiencing far more people who would’ve been referred to as ‘middle class people’ being affected by debt.
The search starts now for a chief executive of the charity, and MAS chairman John Poole said the new boss will join at a time when debt advice and financial education will be as important as ever.
“It’ll be hard to replace Yvonne, as she is so closely associated with the organisation. Clearly the natural reaction as I’ll be very difficult, if not impossible to replace her. We’re very fortunate that Yvonne has given us a very considerable period of notice, way more than she was obliged to give us, so we can go through the process with her.
“It never does any harm to have somebody with new ideas and a different perspective come in. It’ll be hard, as some people will feel that they can’t step into her shoes. But there are plenty of people who will be keen to take on the challenge of coming into an organisation that is well known, does more than it ought to do with only 18 people working for it and will be keen to make their mark.”