We make no apology for writing extensively about adviser directories. They are a vital way of connecting consumers to advice, while they can help advisers and build their business through a steady stream of new enquiries.
We also write a lot about the importance of social proof; next week we’ll look at how adviser directories like VouchedFor can help you prove to prospects what a great job you do.
This week though, we’ll focus on three changes at VouchedFor all advisers and planners need to know about.
1. Firm pages
VouchedFor has always been a directory of individual advisers. However, that sometimes caused issues where firms had multiple advisers.
To address this point, VouchedFor has introduced a firm page. It includes an editable description of the business, a list of advisers and an overall firm rating, calculated by combining the average ratings for the advisers within the business.
This is fantastic news; the firm rating will help businesses with multiple advisers demonstrate their collective value and makes a valuable addition to marketing literature and websites (by using the firm rating widget which VouchedFor has created).
2. Restricted advisers can now be listed
In March 2018 VouchedFor started to allow restricted advisers to list their services.
Having previously only allowed independent advisers on to the platform, this is a major change. Explaining their reasons Adam Price, CEO at VouchedFor said: “Our mission has always been to give everyone access to the best advice for them.”
“All else equal, we believe ‘independence’ is a powerful standard, and until now we have limited VouchedFor to independent advisers, unlike any other directory. However, it is equally true that there are many excellent restricted advisers in the UK. We have encountered many examples where restricting their service has allowed an adviser to deliver a better experience and/or a lower cost.”
“Further to this, recent press coverage, particularly around pension scams and DB transfer advice, has made clear that we need to give every consumer the means to easily check whether their chosen adviser adheres to high standards (whoever the adviser is and however the consumer found them).”
“For these reasons and following consumer requests, we will extend our rigorous VouchedFor checks to all financial advisers. We currently conduct more checks than any other UK adviser directory, including checking that all the verified financial advisers on our site are regulated by the FCA, receive client reviews that are genuine, upload their qualification certificates and clarify their independent status by service.”
“We will of course clearly label whether advisers are independent, focussed independent or restricted, together with an explanation of what each of these means. These definitions, ushered in with MiFID II, are not perfect but, I feel, are better than what has gone before.”
3. Fee disclosure
The debate about online fee disclosure continues; some advisers and planners actively display their fees online, while others prefer to wait until a later interaction.
It’s not for us to say which is right or wrong (although if you plan to add fees to your website you can click here for some thoughts on how to do it effectively). However, there’s certainly a push for greater transparency generally, and more specifically in our profession. It’s therefore interesting that VouchedFor has taken the decision to add a fee tab to each profile.
The tab is editable, although contains some basic pre-set text if you choose not to.
Explaining their decision VouchedFor said: “Following several calls for greater fee transparency from consumers and our adviser community, we have added a new, more comprehensive, ‘Fees’ tab to your profile. This tab enables you to give a more accurate breakdown of how you charge, and the ability to explain those charges in a clear and concise manner.”
We welcome these changes; the firm rating is particularly useful. While the fees tab will give advisers and planners who want to disclose their charges an opportunity to do so; so far adviser directories such as VouchedFor tell me that over 300 have chosen to do so.
For most, VouchedFor will produce a steady flow of new enquiries, but it’s turning in to more than that. It’s at the forefront of raising standards with its recent request that advisers and planners sign a ‘statement of support’ Furthermore, their tools allow advisers and planners to prove the great service they offer, and the value added. Used correctly these should drive an uplift on your communications and client interactions. More of that next week, until then…