19th October, 2022 - Webinar replay
How to appear in the 2023 Top Rated Adviser Guide in collaboration with VouchedFor
Phil Bray 0:01
Good morning, everybody. And welcome to today’s webinar. A bit different today. You can see some different faces on the screen to the usual. Dan’s not with us today. So it’s myself, and Abi doing compère-ing duties today. And we’re joined by Alex Whitson, Managing Director of VouchedFor and Madeleine Sunley, Owner, Director, Independent Financial Adviser at Blueberry Financial. And we’re here today to talk about VouchedFor. Achieving and maximising your Top Rated status in 2023. But before we get to the good stuff, a bit of housekeeping if that’s okay. So, we do want to make sure that everybody leaves today, with any questions that they have, challenges that they have, answered. So we’re going to do that by taking questions either in the Q&A or the chat, whichever you prefer. And just to make sure the chat is working, okay, perhaps everyone could just say a bit of a hello in the chat, and just confirm that’s working. And you can hear us. But as I say, you can put questions in the chat or in the Q&A. Wow, thank you. Cheers Madeleine, cheers Amanda. Hi Nick. Thank you, Matt, I hope everything’s okay with you. Cheers, Laura, James, Tammy, Sophie, Matt. Thank you, everybody. Cheers, Sam. Good to see everybody on today. Hi, Simon. I hope you all well, thank you, everybody. That’s pretty clear the chat is working. So thank you for… thank you for doing that. Cheers, James. And so, as I say, everything today is about VouchedFor. Achieving and maximising your Top Rated status. And delighted that we’re joined with Alex today, as I say, Managing Director, there over at VouchedFor. Questions in the chat and the Q&A. And of course, we tend to get asked this a lot. So we’ll deal with it now. We’ll be sending a recording out later on today of the presentation, and plus any useful links that get mentioned along the way. So if there’s anything you missed today on the call, or you want to watch it back, because the content is so useful (which absolutely will be, I’ve seen the slides and they’re great), you’ll be able to watch it back to your heart’s content. And we’ll also be adding it on to our website as well. So it’s going to form part of the video library. But without further ado, I’m going to hand over to Alex, who’s going to go through the first part of today’s presentation. We’ll then break for a bit of a chat, a bit of a Q&A, between myself, Alex and Madeleine. And then we’ll come back with some more useful top tips to help you qualify for next year’s guide. So Alex, without further ado, over to you.
Alex Whitson 2:50
Great stuff. Thank you very much, Phil. Good morning to you all. I hope you’re all well. So, what are we going to cover in this morning’s session? I’ll set the scene with some of the key trends that we’re noticing as we head into 2023. I’ll then give a very quick overview of VouchedFor, and also the 2023 Top Rated guide. I’ll then share how to qualify for the Top Rated guide, at both adviser and firm level. We’ll then hear from Madeleine, she’ll give some perspective as a Top Rated adviser, much more valuable than me banging on. We’ll then close out with eight tips, to make the most of Top Rated status in the year ahead. And then we’ll leave some time at the end, as Phil says for Q&A. I know it looks like a lot. We’re going to try and keep this interactive, engaging and above all, I hope that you leave it with some valuable food for thought. So what trends are we noticing as we head into 2023? Firstly, encouragingly, appetite for advice remains high. We’re still noticing that people considering advice are spending longer than ever, researching their chosen adviser. We know this, because visitors to VouchedFor are spending 56% longer on adviser profiles, reading reviews, looking at checks, doing due diligence. And that’s a trend that looks set to stay, because it’s driven by two factors. The first is just a ridiculous level of uncertainty that we’re living through at the moment. That stimulates demand for advice, but makes people extra keen to make sure that they find the right adviser. Added to that as the increase in online meetings. Now to be clear, they drive a tonne of efficiencies for advisers and also for clients and platforms like this are fantastic, but they’re not quite the same as sitting down with someone in person. And so, prospects are looking to supplement that with increased online research. Further to this, data from our elevation platform reveals that there’s a very fine line between success and failure, when it comes to turning prospective clients into clients. 63% of prospects who leave a five-star “first impression review” on our platform, tell us they intend to become a client. That more than halves to 28%, who leave a four-star “first impression review”. We’ve spent a lot of time analysing the factors that keep clients on the right side of that line, at the five-star level. Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the most powerful, is trust. And lastly, most of the advisers that we work with, rely on client recommendations as their most valuable source of new business. They will always be the best source of new enquiry. What our analysis shows, is this huge opportunity for most advisers to make that engine work harder. Most clients are happy, which is great to see. Most clients would recommend their adviser (that’s the middle bar on, the right-hand bar on the chart that you can see in front of you). But when you dig further into the data, less than a third of clients actually regularly do recommend their adviser. So similarly, we’ve spent a lot of time analysing the factors that move clients from saying they’d recommend, to actually regularly doing so. And again, one of the most powerful factors there, is trust. And that’s where we come in. So VouchedFor is the UK’s largest review site, for financial and mortgage advisers in the UK. We are focused on helping everyone access great advice. We’ve got a tonne of data on the enormous value, that good advice adds to people’s lives. There’s nearly 4,000 verified members on the valuable platform. That reflects 70% growth since the start of 2020. Mainly fuelled by that increase in due diligence, that I’ve just spoke about. These advisers backed up over 300,000 client reviews, and around 2 million people use us each year to go find and check advisers. Important distinction there. So people will often come to VouchedFor without an adviser in mind, that they’ll do a search and hopefully find one who’s suitable for their needs. But also increasingly people use us when they do have an adviser in mind – maybe they’ve heard about one from a friend or an accountant or some other platform – and they use this as part of their due diligence process. So I’ll just pick out some of the main features of the site just to bring it to life for people. First off, verified members receive an adviser profile (you can see Madeleine’s on the left of your screen). This tells you that she was Top Rated 2022, which means that she featured in our guide in The Times earlier this year. You can see all the checks that she’s passed. And in the top right, you can see her client rating, and the number of reviews that she’s received. If you click on her Firm profile, you come through to her Firm profile page (which you can see on the right hand side). Firm profiles basically aggregate the reviews and ratings of all the advisers associated with that firm, into one powerful Firm-level score. Verified members receive a range of different tools. And the aim of these tools is to build trust with clients, which helps generate more referrals. 83% of our members, clients say they’re more likely to recommend their adviser having read their advisers VouchedFor reviews, and also build trust with prospects, which helps turn more of them into clients. I’ll share a bit more on some of the reputation tools later on, and how to use them. Thirdly, VouchedFor profiles rank highly on Google. To bring this to life, let’s say one of Madeleine’s clients has read her reviews (perhaps helped by one of the tools that you can see on the screen here). That’s made them more likely to tell a friend about Madeleine. That friend in most cases is going to do their own research. And for most people, that’s going to start on Google. As you can see here, they’ve typed Madeleine’s name into Google. One of the first things that they’re going to see is her VouchedFor profile, and all the lovely things that her clients have to say about her – which makes them more likely to get in touch, and ultimately become a client. Worth noting, a lot of firms spend a lot of time optimising their firm level presence on Google. Rightly so. That’s certainly an important thing to do. But if you only do that, it can lead to a blind spot. The various consumer focus groups that we’ve run, and all of our data points the fact that when people hear about an adviser, typically the first thing that they’re going to do, as part of their research is type the advisers name (and I suppose their firm name) into Google. And lastly, we’re a very data-driven organisation. We’ve got a bit better over the last two – three years of making that data available to our members, to help them understand the value of the feedback that they’re collecting. On the left, you can see an adviser dashboard, and this shows this adviser how their feedback is driving value for them. And here’s some of the key metrics. So the first one is Googler’s. That’s how many people have Google this advisers name, as part of their due diligence, and click through to read his reviews on our platform. The second is Clickers. So that’s the number of people who have clicked on one of his reputation tools, to read his reviews. The next one is Referer’s. That’s the number of his clients who have said they’re more likely to recommend him having seen his VouchedFor reviews. You’ve then got Direct Enquiries. So that’s people that have found and contacted the adviser through our platform. And finally, you’ve got Potential Enquiries. This is the number of people who have found the adviser on our platform, spent at least two minutes on their profile, and then left the site. This is a really important step because people often use us to find an adviser, but then choose to make contact with the adviser through their own website. A bit like how you might use TripAdvisor to find a hotel or restaurant, but then ultimately make contact directly. And I’m all for that. I want consumers to do as much research as they want to, before ultimately getting in touch. On the right hand side, you can see some of the data that we make available at firm level too.
Phil Bray 10:52
Alex, can I just pause and ask a question if that’s okay?
Alex Whitson 10:54
Of course you can.
Phil Bray 10:55
Yeah, I’ve got one from Nick, who says “I’m a financial coach. Can you confirm that VouchedFor is also for financial coaches? And if so, how many of the 4,000 members are financial coaches?”
Alex Whitson 11:09
Yeah, that’s a great question, Nick. Financial coaches can now list on VouchedFor, I’m pleased to confirm. It’s only something we’ve introduced relatively recently. And part of the reason why we didn’t do it sooner, was it was quite hard arriving at a series of checks, to give us confidence that the financial coaches on the platform where, you know, were good, and were operating with kind of client’s best interests in mind. We’ve now developed a set of checks that satisfy us, and coaches and are able to list on the platform. In terms of exactly how many coaches we have on the platform. I’m not sure of the exact number, to be honest. I think it’s in the region of about 40 or so? But we’re certainly getting more requests. And I think it’s an important part of our membership, to grow in the coming months.
Phil Bray 12:02
Thanks, Alex. Carry on, the floor is yours.
Alex Whitson 12:05
No problem. So in terms of the value of the VouchedFor platform, and really what we’re focused on, is helping good advisers prove they do a great job. And in so doing, drive more organic growth. And to put some numbers against that, we run a monthly survey with our members, which asked them how many prospects they’re meeting from all sources, and what their conversion rate is. And the difference between an adviser who’s established on VouchedFor, been up and running for at least 12 months, and an adviser who’s just starting out, equates to eight additional clients per year as an average. That is an average. So some will see less, some will see more, but it gives you a sense of what’s possible. And important to mention. This excludes anyone that may have made contact directly through the platform. It’s worth also just a quick word on our Elevation platform, which you may have read about in the press. Think of it almost like a much more powerful client survey. It helps firms improve client experience, meet consumer duty requirements, and also mitigate risks. I’ll share with you a real firms Elevation dashboard. You can see that on the right hand side of your screen. Along the top, you can see how they’re doing against the three Elevation goals. The first is around making great first impressions. And the goal that we look at there, is the percentage of their prospects that they meet, who tell us they intend to become a client. The second one looks at advocacy, and the percentage of their clients who are passionate advocates who regularly recommend them. The third is around risk, and the percentage of their client feedback that shows no markers of risk. And if you click into one of the goals (we’ve got the second one selected in this particular example), you can see underneath it, all the factors that our analysis of hundreds of thousands of clients feedback, tell us that the most important areas to focus on, drive improvement against that goal. In this firms case, they’re pretty good (relative to the industry), at giving clients the sense that their adviser is accessible to them. The little green triangle is the firm, the little blue one is the industry average. They’re pretty good at giving clients maximum confidence around risk – that they understand the risks associated with advice. Interestingly, that’s a huge driver of advocacy, particularly for clients in the 65 plus age group. They need to be absolutely sure about all the downsides, if they’re going to tell friends about you. And if you look at the bottom of that screengrab, you can see some of the main opportunities to improve for this firm. And this is where they’re doing least well (relative to the industry). The first is around talking to clients about recommendations. Generally as the blue triangle shows, the industry is not great at this, but this firm is even worse. And also – and this is the most powerful driver of all the advocacy drivers we’ve identified – they could do better at getting clients maximum confidence that they’re on track to achieve their goals.
Phil Bray 15:00
Alex, I’ve got a couple of things about Elevation if that’s okay?
Alex Whitson 15:03
Yeah yeah, fire away.
Phil Bray 15:04
So, from Amanda, “As a pilot user, the Elevation tool and the insight it gives us (as a firm and our advisers) is highly recommended.” That’s good. Then, just a question from Ishbere, on Elevation. And Ishbere says, “On a firm level, are we able to use this, when reviewing our brokers? Or is it only accessed by the broker users themselves?” So I guess that’s about access at different management levels within the business?
Alex Whitson 15:37
Yeah, absolutely. So, essentially, one of the key things that is required by the consumer duty is around… Well, firstly collecting the right data to evidence value. But a crucial part of the consumer duty, which represents a big departure from say, TCF and what’s gone before, are the requirements around governance, and making sure you don’t just collect the right data, but you really put it to work within your business, driving the right decision making at every level. And so to that end, as a firm, you can recommend… you can essentially give access to Elevation at all levels. And that’s very much what we recommend that you do. So you can essentially have a firm level view of the data, which is what this is showing here. But then each adviser, or each broker within your firm, can also have their own dashboard, which shows how they’re doing against each of the three goals, and the specific things that they can do to improve. So that helps with the governance requirements within the consumer duty. It aids self management, because your brokers can objectively see how they’re doing, versus the industry, and how to improve. It also aids with… aids your central management visibility as well. It helps with things like appraisals, delivering more targeted training, etc, etc.
Phil Bray 16:55
Thanks, Alex. And Sophie, we’ll do two more questions and then carry on. Sophie and Tandy, have both asked how they can access the elevation platform? So, what’s your answer to that, Alex? And maybe we can put a link in the follow-up as well?
Alex Whitson 17:11
Yeah, absolutely. So, it’s worth clarifying Elevation is a distinct but related proposition to VouchedFor. So it’s fueled by the same feedback form. You could just be set up on Elevation. And as I said, think of it almost like a much more powerful client survey that helps with consumer duty and various other things. The cost of Elevation at the moment is £30 per adviser per month. If you wish to, you can make the relevant parts of the feedback that you collect through through Elevation, public on your VouchedFor profile in the form of reviews. So it’s kind of getting maximum value out of feedback and bringing it all under one roof. In terms of how to get involved. What I’d recommend is emailing “firstname.lastname@example.org”, and then one of the team would be very happy to give you a more in depth demo of the platform and help you decide whether it’s of interest.
Phil Bray 18:06
Erm, carry on. We’ll come back to Ian’s question towards the end if that’s okay, Alex.
Alex Whitson 18:14
So, a quick overview of the guide next. So, we’ve been running the Top Rated guide for a few years now. It reaches over a million people through The Times. It’s distributed nationally. The print part of the guide which you can see on the left hand side, and also a digital version. The guide is best described in two parts. So the first half is editorial content that helps people understand what advice is, and crucially celebrates its value. I’m sure those of you on this call are only too aware that sadly, most of the mainstream media coverage of advice is fueled by the handful of horror stories. To be clear, it’s important to flag the dangers and help people avoid scams, but there’s a massive risk in only doing that – which is the many of the public who could benefit from advice, don’t engage or leave it until too late, which is a massive shame. So what we’re looking to do with this first bit of the guide, is really bang the drum for great advice, and really kind of raise awareness of the fact that the vast majority of financial planners, financial advisers are doing brilliant life-changing work for their clients, every single day. The second bit of the guide lists (region by region across the UK), those advisers who have qualified as Top Rated. There’s also a section that lists those firms who have qualified as Top Rated as well. Top Rated advisers and Top Rated firms receive badges on their profiles, as you can see here. They also receive access to a range of more focused Top Rated tools, from email signatures through to reports, and so on. I’ll share a bit more later on about how to use these. We did a bit of analysis recently on the value seen by Top Rated members of the VouchedFor platform versus non Top Rated members, and found quite an interesting uplift. So, to call out some of the headlines, Top Rated advisers typically generate 50% more profile visits from Google. They generate 36% more direct profile visits (that’s people clicking on one of their reputation tools to read their reviews). And they received two times as many potential enquiries – so that’s people that have visited their profile, and spent at least two minutes on it. That’s worth doing. And worth saying as well, there’s no additional cost to our members of becoming Top Rated, we recommend everyone goes for it. So, how can you qualify? So, first off, to qualify at adviser level, you need a fully verified profile, which means that you’ve passed all of our checks and ongoing monitoring. The cost of this is £54 plus VAT per month, or £18 plus VAT per month if you’re a new adviser, who’s qualified in the last few years. You need at least 10 reviews, since the start of the year, with an average rating of at least four-and-a-half out of five or above. You need an all time rating on VouchedFor of four-and-a-half or above as well. The deadline to qualify is the end of the year. To qualify at firm level, you need to invite 100% of your clients to leave feedback for you. There are some exemptions here, like if a client doesn’t have an email address or is unwell, but the spirit of it, is to invite all your clients to leave you feedback. To ensure that they’re engaged, we need at least a 20% minimum response rate, an average rating of at least four-and-a-half or more out of five. And there’s additional checks and monitoring that we do as well. Part of the reason for sharing Elevation with you earlier is that in 2023, at firm level, Elevations industry benchmarks will play a part in deciding which firms qualify as Top Rated. To give you a recent case in point. So it’s a national firm that we’re working with. They’ve got lots of great reviews, good response rate, good rating, but they’re below the industry on some important risk markers. So that third Elevation goal, and as such, they won’t qualify as Top Rated on this occasion.
Phil Bray 22:13
Alex, can I just interrupt you and just ask a question? So I think last year (I might be wrong), but I think last year there was a 20% minimum response rate and there was a minimum number of reviews? 25 per adviser, 100 per firm? Is that the same this year as well?
Alex Whitson 22:28
It is the same. Yes, exactly. And the rationale for it is that we just need enough to be confident that, the firm’s doing a good job. If they don’t have enough reviews in place. It’s it’s hard for us to get a good read on that.
Phil Bray 22:42
So it’s subject to 20%, subject to a minimum of 25 per adviser, or 100 per firm?
Alex Whitson 22:48
Phil Bray 22:50
Okay, cool. Thanks. Thanks for clearing that up.
Alex Whitson 22:52
No probs. Sorry, I should have… it would have been helpful to list that here. On the… what we can do afterwards, actually, there’s a page to apply as a Top Rated firm. And on that page, there’s an FAQ section, which goes into more detail than we reasonably could on this slide. So, time to hear from Madeleine. I’ll stop sharing my screen. And Phil, I believe you have some some questions from Adam.
Phil Bray 23:20
Yeah, absolutely. And I’ll direct some of these to you as well, Alex, if that’s okay? And, you know, I might answer a couple of my own questions as well. We’ll see. So, Madeleine as one of these planners that Alex talked about that delivers life-changing advice to your client. Just talk about trust, if that’s okay,? And trust with prospects and clients, and why you think it might have got more important over the last few years?
Madeleine Sunley 23:48
Well, so many things have been happening, not only with our profession with like the British Steel issues that people have been reading about in the papers where, you know, supposedly dodgy IFA is doing stuff. But also because of what’s been happening, you know, with like the COVID crash. And of course, this year has been a complete mess, I think that’s the nice way of putting it. So therefore, you know, clients are looking for someone who they can really trust to hold their hand. And not just, try and sell them a product, but actually someone who they can talk to about what’s happening. And gives them real confidence really, that their money – if they put it in somewhere isn’t going to suddenly all disappear. And that this adviser is making sure they’re making all the right decisions for their future, and not for the IFA.
Phil Bray 24:36
Alex, you’ve got a wider perspective of this, dealing with – what is it, 3,000 advisers on the platform? What’s your view on the trust point? How important is it? How much more demanding have consumers been, when it comes to advisers and being able to trust them?
Alex Whitson 24:54
Well I think that point around the increase in research done, just sort of underlines how important trust is today. You know, people want to make absolutely sure that they are with the right adviser, understandably. One of the interesting data points that caught out from our Elevation analysis is that, as I mentioned in that screenshot I shared earlier, one of the biggest drivers of advocacy, is how confident clients feel that they’re on track to achieve their goals. One of the questions we often get asked by advisers is, “Has that confidence tanked, given the state of the markets currently?” And the answer, is no. And I must be somewhat surprised that we haven’t seen more of a decline. We spoke to some of the clients that had left feedback, to better understand why. And the consistent answer was, “Look, you know, I trust my adviser, they’ve spoken to me in depth about the fact that the market will go down. And, you know, they couldn’t be sure exactly what would drive it, but I expected some sort of decline. And I feel as comfortable as I did previously, or near enough.” I mean, the point is, there isn’t a material decrease in that client confidence, because most clients trust their adviser, which is great to see.
Phil Bray 26:19
That’s good to know. And that’s a message that I think all in the community, everybody on this call, needs to be getting out to their clients and prospects. The fact that working with a good quality adviser or planner, will lead to better financial outcomes and better personal outcomes for them. Madeleine back to you. You obviously, you’ve got a business there, you’ve got new people, new prospects coming to you, people who want to work with you. Just talk about what’s your sense for the proportion of prospects who do some due diligence online? Look you up online? Visit your VouchedFor profile, visit your website, before getting in touch?
Madeleine Sunley 27:01
I think they all do. So, even clients that have been recommended by their friends or family or things like that. And the reasons that I know, is that, A) I ask them, or they’ve typed it in their introductory email. I’ve got clients coming in next Monday, who purposely have typed in, “We found your on VouchedFor,” and even other clients who I saw the other week, they were like, “… We found you on… what’s that site?” I was like VouchedFor, they’re like, “Yes, that’s the one!” And I know they’re going to my website as well, because they’ll pick stuff up. So some clients came and and they said to me, “Well, we’ve come to see you because you’ve got a quote on your website from Kung Fu Panda.” I was like, “Yes, I have!” So, yeah. So, all clients are researching. And you know, like Alex pointed out, VouchedFor comes up so highly on the Google searches that they are looking at VouchedFor, as well as your own website, just so they can understand more about you and what you do. And also find out what sort of a person that you are. Because I was saying to our receptionist the other day when we had potential clients come in, I was like, “Oh, they’re so nice!” And I think we only actually get nice people in, because they’ve gone online, they’ve read about who I am and what I do for clients on VouchedFor, and on the website. And therefore if you’re not a nice person, you probably won’t like me because I’m quite cheery and cheerful and it’s all pink and purple and and you can reflect that in VouchedFor as well, which is great. So yeah, so we don’t get horrible people in!
Alex Whitson 28:42
What’s the Kung Fu Panda quote, Madeleine?
Madeleine Sunley 28:50
It’s… Hang on, let me get it right. It’s… yeah… Oh, no, you’ve put me on the spot now, I’m like aaah!
Phil Bray 28:58
I’ll tell you what, look it up, I can answer a couple of questions.
Madeleine Sunley 29:01
I know bits of it, but I can’t remember the actual wording!
Phil Bray 29:05
The… Alex, we’ll come back to some specific questions in a minute on on here. But so far this year, and this is… we’ll come to your answer on this again, Alex, in the second half of the presentation. But Madeleine, so far this year, what have you done to try and encourage clients to leave you reviews on Google, and VouchedFor obviously as well? What do you do in your business, to get more online reviews?
Madeleine Sunley 29:34
We just ask. So, and actually, the easiest way of doing it is – because it’s all about ease and laziness – I literally log on to VouchedFor, I go to their referral generator or the, you know, where you can ask for reviews even, and I adapt what it says very slightly. And then I put in my clients email addresses and I send it off. And it’s really easy! And because we know our clients really well, they virtually all come back, you know, and they do it really quickly. And also, if they haven’t done one, I’ll just send them another quick email that says, “Oi, sort it out!” So yeah, we make it as easy as possible by literally just using VouchedFor to do it.
Phil Bray 30:19
Good. A couple of points there. It’s amazing what happens when you ask, isn’t it? We had a client overseas, who obviously can’t be on VouchedFor because you’ve not reached out to worldwide domination yet, Alex. But we’ve got a client overseas… Say that again, sorry?
Alex Whitson 30:38
I know who you mean, and I’m gutted with that. Yeah, I’d like to, I’d like to get them on the platform soon.
Phil Bray 30:46
And they’ve been putting off all year asking for Google reviews. And we finally persuaded them to do it. And over the past week, they’ve had 13-14 really positive Google reviews. So I’m with you, Alex, and Madeleine. It’s amazing what you get, if you just ask the right clients in the right way. And you obviously qualified for the guide last year, modelled here. Madeleine, for you, what are the key benefits of being in the guide? What have the benefits been this year for being in the guide?
Madeleine Sunley 31:27
It sets you apart. So you can literally just go, “Haha, I’m Top Rated!” And you can share it to people. So actually, when we meet a new client, we give them like a folder of information, on all of ourselves, you know, boring stuff like our client agreements. But we also print out the… you get the Top Rated report that Alex, you were talking about. And it beautifully has your picture on it, and it says Top Rated. And then it says how amazing you are. And then you can print off all the pages if you want, with all your client reviews. So that’s great, because straightaway, it says Top Rated. And just telling clients as well, and making them aware. And also, if you think about going on something like TripAdvisor, you wouldn’t want to go for like a three star hotel, would you? You’d want to go for one of the best ones. So it’s, really simply, it’s nice having a gold star. So we tell people about it. And also on our website, you can just click on the VouchedFor thing, and it takes you through, so that they can look at it. So it just, it sets you apart.
Phil Bray 32:34
Yeah, your website has a pop-up “We’re using the VouchedFor widget”. You’ve got a pop-up, comes up on the screen, you still in the Blueberry domain, nice and simple. Let’s do a few quickfire questions that have come in from the audience today. Now, Madeleine, this first one is for you. And it’s from Elaine, “Do you ask and update while the client’s there? Or do you do it when they have left the meeting?” So I’m guessing what thats saying is maybe, do you ask clients for reviews at the meeting?
Madeleine Sunley 33:06
No, we don’t. And we do need to get better at it as well. But no, generally, just every once in a while, we’ll just go on and ask clients. Literally we just go on to the VouchedFor thing and send it off, to clients that we’ve either talked to recently, or sometimes it’s a case of, the Top Rated thing comes up, you know you need to qualify by December, and we’re just like, “Oh, quick!” that’s a great shove to make us go and do some more. But actually, we have just taken on Elevate. And so therefore, we need to do it on a much more regular basis as well. So, it’s becoming part of our process, which literally, we’re going to see a client, do the review for them, and then send them an email and straightaway go, “You’ve seen us, we were lovely, we gave you great advice. Can you please write us a review?”
Phil Bray 33:58
There was a lot of love for your Kung Fu Panda quote, I think we’ve got a few people on your website right now reading that.
Madeleine Sunley 34:03
Have they found it? Yeah!
Phil Bray 34:06
So, Sarah makes a really good point, which is similar to the one you’ve just made Madeleine, about the… Sarah’s obviously a mortgage broker. And, when the client has got the mortgage offer, they’re really feeling high and very positive at that point. That’s the perfect time to be asking for a review. So, a couple more questions here. So, Alex, I’ll ask you this one, and I’ve got a view on this. This is from Ishbere, “Is there any way for VouchedFor reviews to be linked to Google reviews? The Google review SEO benefits is something that we would like to maintain for our website growth.” So, is there any way of linking Google and VouchedFor reviews together?
Alex Whitson 34:48
So, not in a sort of slick, real time automated way, that would be ideal for everyone. However, we are… we’re in the process of exploring a journey that would enable clients – once they’ve left the review on our platform – to copy the relevant bit and then paste it onto Google. We’re exploring how we deliver that from a product perspective at the moment. And I know, Phil, that you sort of ask for reviews together sort of at the same time. So you’ll ask for sort of a VouchedFor review. Some of the firm’s we work with, will invite feedback on VouchedFor, and then what they’ll do is they’ll follow up with clients who have a Gmail address, and send them the Google review invite. Because that’s currently a bit of a barrier for a lot of people to leave reviews.
Phil Bray 35:41
Yeah, it absolutely is. We’ve found that actually, there’s a couple of just random points on this interaction between Google and VouchedFor. Our view is that firms should be using both platforms. Really going back to something that you said Alex, and in that if somebody’s searching for an adviser, I’m recommended to Madeleine, I might type Madeleine Sunley in there, for the VouchedFor reviews come up on Google. I might type Blueberry Financial in and therefore the Google reviews will come up and hopefully the VouchedFor firm page as well. So Google reviews are incredibly important, but they are very difficult to get. In our experience, firms get for every one Google review they get, they will get maybe four, five, six, even seven or eight reviews on VouchedFor. It is so much easier to get reviews on your platform, Alex. I can think of one firm in London that got maybe 20 Google reviews, approaching 400 VouchedFor reviews now, and they’ll qualify as a Top Rated firm again this year. So there’ll be knocking on 500-550 reviews by that point. But it is hard to get Google reviews. And anything VouchedFor can do to link the two together would be just spectacularly good, Alex. So, I’m all for that. Couple of questions around qualification criteria, Alex, if that’s okay? So this is from Melanie, “If there is only one adviser in the firm, is the minimum number of reviews 25 or 100?”
Alex Whitson 37:13
If there’s only one, it’s 25. And that’s kind of the rationale for the rule being in place. So, let’s say you’re really small firm, or have one or two advisers, we need to be confident that you’ve got enough reviews to give us a sense of, whether you’ve served qualified Top Rated level or not. And so 25 reviews per adviser is fine. In that instance, the 100 reviews minimum is for larger firms where let’s say some of their advisers might not be able to get 25 because they’re newer or have smaller client banks, that kind of thing.
Phil Bray 37:51
But both of those obviously have to tick the 20% minimum response rate box as well?
Alex Whitson 37:56
Phil Bray 37:56
Okay, so I think that answers Matt’s question as well. What else have we got here? Love for Kung Fu Panda. So this is coming from Ravenska, “Is the search result on VouchedFor automatically defaulted to verified members?”
Alex Whitson 38:16
Yeah, great question. So, the search function essentially will show you verified members unless someone unticks the box that says “only show members that are available for contact”. And if they untick that box, which some people do, then it’ll show our starter members as well, who are on a free basic profile. The free basic profiles are a bit tricky, to be honest, because we… we’re not able to do all the checks and monitoring on them, that we can on the verified profiles. There’s a very clear badge on there telling users of the site that that’s the case. But even so, sometimes we’ll get journalists who, let’s say, find a start profile that’s got some information on there, that isn’t quite right. And so, what to do with those free basic profiles is something that’s, kind of on our minds at the moment.
Phil Bray 39:09
Thanks, Alex. Right, Alex, do you want to go back to your slides? We’re going to talk more about how to qualify, and then we’ll come back and do some more questions at the end if that’s okay?
Alex Whitson 39:18
Yeah, sounds good. Okay. Okay. So yeah, just gonna share eight tips to make the most of your Top Rated status. I’m sure Phil can add some more to these as well. But the first one is around using your email signature and website badges to tell the world that you are Top Rated. You can see an example of the email signature on the left, and you can see an example on the right of a firm using our Top Rated tools on their website. We try and make it as easy as possible to use these website tools. You can basically copy code for the tools, and paste them into your website. If you’re not comfortable doing that, then I know a chap who is pretty handy with websites, who I’m sure it can help you out. Second is to make use of the Top Rated certificate and Top Rated report. So, the certificate you can see on the left, looks great framed on a desk or on the wall. Top Rated report Madeleine touched on earlier. So this is basically a background report telling people why you qualified as Top Rated. So, all the checks that you’ve passed, your rating and all the reviews that you’ve received. A nice addition to a welcome pack or waiting room table and such like. Third is around social media. So we’ve got a Zoom background that you can use for Zoom calls. On the right, you’ve got a trophy as well, there’s an additional charge for that. But it looks nice on a mantelpiece or again in Zoom backgrounds. Sorry, this one is social media one. So we give you a variety of images that you can share on social media. One of the highlights of my year, is on the day that the guide is published. And you just see hundreds and hundreds of advisers, quite rightly celebrating the fact that based on their client feedback, and the brilliant work that they’re doing for their clients, they’ve qualified as Top Rated. I absolutely love it. If you haven’t seen it before, scroll back in our timeline on LinkedIn and Twitter to around sort of end of March time, and you’ll see what I mean. There’s then the referral generator tool, which Madeleine touched on earlier. Now, whether you become a member of our platform or not, hopefully some of the wording here might be useful, particularly given as I shared through the Elevation screenshot, the industry’s not great at talking to clients about recommendations. This can potentially help. So this is a tool that our members can choose to trigger. It’s an email that comes from us, you can choose who it goes to. So it can be all reviewers of all time, or a selected list. It thanks the reviewer for their review, for in this case, Madeleine, which helped her and you can insert the relevant milestone there. In this case, it’s achieving Top Rated status in 2022. It recaps our mission to help everyone get great advice and says to that end, we’d be very grateful, if you’d introduce Madeleine to anyone you know, who may need help by sharing the unique link below. You can then choose to add an incentive or remove it. So, why is the messaging here powerful? It’s doing a few things. So firstly, it’s a nice personalised message. It’s a thank you, which which tends to lead to good engagement levels. It gives confidence to Madeleine’s client. So, they no doubt know that she’s doing a brilliant job for them already. But it’s good for them to know that she’s doing a great job for many other people as well, hence why she qualified as Top Rated. That makes them more likely to forward this email to friends, or just have it in mind when they’re next speaking to a friend. And then, it makes the friend in question more likely to get in touch, because they can see it’s not just Madeleine’s client who thinks she’s great. There’s many other clients that share that view, as well. So it’s a nice virtuous circle. Next tip is around inviting lots of client feedback. So, inviting clients to leave you a review every year is what we recommend. That encourages more of them to recommend you for the reasons discussed. And we try and make that as easy as possible to do through the platform. So you can use our review invite tool, to just invite a big chunk of clients on a regular basis. There’s also an annual feedback tool which you can set up. So you basically turn that on for all your clients, or a selection of them. And 12 months after their initial review, there’ll be asked to leave a follow up annual review. And just before that goes out, you’ll receive a notification telling you it’s about to go out. So if, for instance, the person’s no longer a client or something like that, you can choose to stop the invite going out. The next one relates to prospects, what we call first impression reviews. Now, these are so powerful, for three reasons. If you invite a prospect after an initial meeting to leave your first impression. That’s one of the best ways to make them read your client reviews, which makes them more likely to become a client themselves. The second one is that you can see through our system, their intention rate. So you can see how likely they are to become a client, which helps you focus your efforts and learn how good a job you’re doing and such like. And then the third one is all these reviews all count towards the review count on your profile, and also in the guide. So we publish a total review count in the guide. So definitely worth collecting these. I know some advisers are a bit wary of inviting feedback so early in their journey, but I’d really encourage you to do so. The average response rate from prospects for first impressions is over 45%. And the key is positioning it in the right way. So if in that first meeting with a prospective client, you say something like, “I really care about delivering a great service. And to that end, I’d be really grateful if you could complete the short feedback form I’ll send you after this meeting. No obligation at all. But I’d be grateful.” If you could, as mentioned, you know that leads to a very high conversion rate, and much benefit. And then lastly, there’s lots of firm level tools are shared. So making the most of them is important. Embedding the review carousel in your website. There’s various widgets as well, that we offer. There’s a checklist here. I won’t read through all of it. But as Phil shared, there will be a recording circulated afterwards. So if there’s anything that you’ve missed, feel free to jump back here and check it out.
Phil Bray 45:34
Thank you, Alex. That’s fantastic. Right, let’s do some questions, if that’s okay. Right, let’s see where we got back to before. Right, one from Mark. And again, I’m happy to take this Alex, you might have some thoughts on it. “I’ve just Google searched Madeleine. And the VouchedFor results, your VouchedFor page, Madeleine was right at the top. P.S, I’m not a stalker.” Good to know Mark. “But when I did the same exercise on my own name, VouchedFor was nowhere to be seen. What’s the best way to address this?” Alex, do you want to have a go? Do you want me to have a go? How do you want to that one?
Alex Whitson 46:14
I’ll have a quick go, then keen to hear what you have to say on it, as well, Phil. So, it will vary slightly, dependent on your name, and how unusual your name is. What we tend to see is that, if someone has a more typical name, what the consumer will do is they’ll add a qualifier to the end of it. So let’s say someone’s called Mark Jones. The consumer will add Mark Jones financial adviser – they’ll add financial adviser to the end of it. And in most cases, the VouchedFor profile will be near the top. The other factor that obviously plays a part here is, how many people share the name. So there was an adviser on the platform a while ago called Michael McIntyre, which is a fairly unusual name, but unfortunately, obviously it has many results associated with someone else. So, similarly, what we see in those instances is that people will add that qualifying statement afterwards.
Phil Bray 47:16
Yeah, I would completely agree with Alex, with you on that Alex. There’s only one Madeleine Sunley (in many different ways Madeline!) And that is a relatively unusual name. And I think, Mark, that’s part of the problem. The more… the less unusual, you’re name, the harder it is to appear there. I do suspect people will scroll down the page, Alex. I think the point about adding a descriptor is important. And then also, the other thing I would add, there also is… Madeleine has been on VouchedFor for a prolonged period of time. So there’s maybe a Google indexing issue there to play as well. I don’t know when he became a VouchedFor member Mark? But if it was very recently, maybe there’s a Google indexing thing part to play there, because it takes Google a while to index pages. I hope that answers your question Mark, do feel free to put anything else in there if you want a bit more clarification. So this from Sarah, “I’m a current Top Rated Adviser with 24 Reviews. If I joined the firm to VouchedFor, will those 24 reviews transfer over to the firm as a start to the new reviews?” So I think Alex, unless you’re necessarily you’re saying you’re changing to a different firm, I think what that’s saying Alex is actually, if you’ve got… If Sarah’s got 24 reviews individually, there’ll be 24 reviews on her firm profile as well won’t there?
Alex Whitson 48:46
Correct, yes. Provided that she hasn’t changed firm. So, provided the firm has been the same from the start, then as soon as you connect up your firm profile, then it will all flow through onto your firm profile page straightaway.
Phil Bray 48:59
Sarah, if that doesn’t answer the question, feel free to put a clarifying question in the chat. And we’ll get to that as well. Right, this is maybe one for Alex, maybe one for Abi, to be fair, as our Yardstick Head of Social Media at Yardstick. “I’m struggling to link VouchedFor, to my LinkedIn profile. Are there any more detailed instructions, as I can’t seem to reduce the size of the pic to fill the frame either.” So I guess that’s maybe the fame at the top – the banner image at the top? Alex, any thoughts on that?
Alex Whitson 49:33
So, we create the images in the sort of optimal size recommended by LinkedIn. But images on social media can be quite fickle creatures. It kind of… they’re influenced by other things like the size of your screen and that sort of thing. What I would say is, you know, we’re certainly very happy to help, so if you want to reach out to one of the teams, we’ve got a great design and product team. So, they’d be happy to help you with that. But, Abi, you’re a social media ninja. So you might have some some further thoughts on it?
Abi Robinson 50:10
It’s hard to say without seeing, like you say, individually, so I’d be happy to help as well. If you want to send any details over we can have a look, it might just be that the dimensions aren’t quite right.
Phil Bray 50:21
Ninjas, Kung Fu Pandas… We’re covering it all today, aren’t we! Abi, just put your email in the chat, if you would. And then Melanie, if you want to send Abi a quick message across, we can help deal with that. Right. Dinesh would like the links to the VouchedFor corporate LinkedIn page and the corporate Twitter page. So, if we could send that across as well, perhaps Alex or Abi, you could just put that in the chat. Right, question from Darren, “Is there a way of resending out an email to a client, that is not responded to a review request via the site?”
Alex Whitson 51:00
Yeah, great question, Darren. There’s a built in nudge that goes out about seven days after the initial review invite. And it’s very sort of gentle, no pressure nudge, which helps generate a few more review requests. That’s kind of a standard built in feature of the site. As Madeleine touched on, there’s more you can do, depending on how many clients you have, and your relationship with them. We tend to see, I mean, the average response rate we get across all reviews for all the site is that 45% level, across both clients and prospects. But that is an average and there’s some advisers on the platform who are close to 100%. The difference is almost always how they talk about it with their clients and crucially, not positioning it necessarily as a favour that the client is doing you, but more as a means to help you deliver the very best possible service for them. So, yeah, a long-ish answer, there’s an automated nudge that goes out, and then what I’d recommend is, building it into your discussions with clients on an ongoing basis as well.
Phil Bray 52:03
Got a question from Philip, this is about integrations. “You talked, Alex, that you’re looking at trying to find a way of integrating VouchedFor and Google together? Are there any other platforms, such as Facebook reviews, that are on that list? Maybe in that development train?”
Alex Whitson 52:20
To be honest, the the methodology I described whereby you could sort of copy and paste the relevant parts of your feedback on our platform onto other platforms, would be pretty portable. So there’s no reason why it couldn’t apply to some of the mass market review sites, and Facebook as well. So yeah, yeah, keen to explore all of those options.
Phil Bray 52:42
Right, question from Ian. And I think Alex, Madeleine and myself, we probably all have our thoughts on this. “I’m concerned about the quality of reviews. When groups in networks advocate, going round all your friends, and in some cases, making up reviews. How do you convince me that reviews are accurate and/or independent?” So Alex, you start, then Madeleine, that I’ll go next.
Alex Whitson 53:13
Ian, I’m really glad you asked this question. And you’re right to be concerned, there’s a lot of really dodgy practice that goes on with reviews. A lot of the time when talking about which review platform to use, all the focus is on the benefit to advisers or business without, in my view, giving enough thought to the benefit to consumers. This was perfectly illustrated for me, when I went to a lunch hosted by a financial adviser that I happen to know, I don’t know him hugely well, but at the end of the lunch, he sent an email rant to everyone that was there saying, “You all owe me – whatever it was – £50 for the lunch, or, instead, you can leave me a review on Google.” And within two or three days, he had lots of reviews from people that I knew for a fact had never used his services, talking about how great it was. And I was utterly livid. It was, it was terrible. And unfortunately, you know, many review platforms don’t have any safeguards in place, meaning that anyone could could review you, you know, in all senses. I mean, there’s lots of stories we’ve heard, for instance, of competitors, leaving negative reviews on people’s Google account, or Trustpilot, or whatever it is, which is a big problem. So, the integrity of the reviews on VouchedFor is incredibly important to us. And there’s a lot that we do, to ensure that the reviews are genuine. One is we have an algorithm which looks at a variety of different factors, that tell us whether the review is genuine or not. For obvious reasons, I can’t share all the details of that algorithm, but it will regularly on a daily basis, flag any reviews that are suspicious, and then we’ll conduct further investigations. In addition to that, we also do various spot checks. As part of leaving a review, clients will agree to sharing non-sensitive information with us, to evidence the fact that they are a client, and we’ll periodically request that they do that as well. So, there’s a lot that we do to make sure that the reviews on the platform are genuine, and it’s incredibly important to me and the rest of the team that they are. And yeah, very glad that you asked the question.
Phil Bray 55:23
Madeleine, would you add anything to that?
Madeleine Sunley 55:28
Well, I mean, it is all about trust and integrity. So technically, yes, you could go around and get your friends and family to do that. And possibly, you know, if you can get through all of Alex’s checks, which sounds like you can’t, but when they actually come and talk to you, they’re going to know. And it’s especially the detail that some of my clients have put in their reviews. You know, A) I couldn’t have written that myself. You know, what they’ve put, it’s always their language. And what they said, I’ve done for them, which, yeah, if you’re not a client, you wouldn’t have written that. And the other thing I always say to clients is that they can talk to any of my clients if they want. So they could always pick one of the reviews. And they could say, “Who’s that?” Obviously, I can tell them straightaway. Like, I could go to the client who wrote it and go, “Would you chat to, you know, this prospect about it?” and then they can see that they’re a real person. And on top of that, I’ve also got reviews on my website, from real people with their pictures and their stories and stuff like that, which links into the VouchedFor things as well. So yeah, and it’s really hard pushed to be able to write anything that’s not true about it. And I think it’s great as well, that I can’t see what they’ve written, until they’ve gone and done it. And then they’ll email me they go, “I’ve done it, Madeleine, what do you think?” And I, you know, I can only go on and see it once it’s been done! So, I really like that.
Phil Bray 56:52
There’s just a couple of things I would add in there. I’d echo what you said, Alex. if one of the… For me, it’s one of the benefits of using VouchedFor, that, actually, getting fake negative reviews is just not a thing on VouchedFor. And, in terms of the fact that it obviously has to be a client, someone has to be a client to have left a review on VouchedFor, I think from both sides of that coin. That’s really powerful. When it comes to Google reviews, we don’t actually see that much negativity on Google. We don’t see… we certainly haven’t seen… it’s a slightly different experience to you, Alex, we’ve certainly have not seen competitors go on and leave negative reviews, for firms. We have seen negative reviews very, very occasionally. But it’s always relating back to a client experience. And when you speak to the adviser, they do kind of hold their hands up and say, “Yeah, we dropped the ball on that one.” But I think, Madeleine, you’re absolutely right. When it comes to Google reviews, it’s… I think you can genuinely spot a fake review from a genuine review. Because of the amount of detail there. A lot of clients go into a whole lot of detail when it comes to leaving a review that they wouldn’t be able to do, if they were making something up. And Alex, just to finally echo your point, that behaviour from that advisor is just the abhorrent. It’s completely against the spirit of online reviews. And I suspect that might have come through – I don’t know who the adviser is, but if you read the reviews, I suspect that might come through in the quality of the comments, and what’s being said.
Alex Whitson 58:24
Phil Bray 58:26
Right. Last couple of questions before we finish. Ian, I hope that answered your question. Be really interested in any feedback you give us on that. Right, last couple of questions, this one from Darryl, “If I move firm, do my personal VouchedFor reviews come with me? Or would I lose them all?”
Alex Whitson 58:44
Yes, so they will. There’s a change that we brought in recently, to to be fairer here to both advisers, and firms, when when an adviser moves firm. So essentially, your reviews will always stay with you. But if you’ve collected them at more than one firm, there’ll be a little message on your reviews that says some of this advisers reviews were collected at another firm, but they will stay with you, and be listed on your profile as they are currently. And at firm level this the same applies. So let’s say you’ve left a previous firm where you collected 20 reviews, they will have a notice on their firm profile saying that some of this firms reviews were collected by advisers that are no longer with the firm. The ultimate aim, of course is to be as transparent and clear with consumers as possible.
Phil Bray 59:31
The message that we tried to deliver all the way through today about being transparent, reflects the trust point, doesn’t it? And last question, Ishbere, “How would you encourage clients to leave detailed reviews rather than just star ratings?” Alex, that’s one for you.
Alex Whitson 59:48
So the review form itself really encourages that. We’ve tested lots of different questions to ensure that we’re really getting good, valuable information from each reviewer, that will help other users of the site. And if you go on and look at, say Madeleine’s reviews or any of our other members reviews, you’ll really see that in action. You’ll see that they go into a lot of detail on how the advisers helped, what they were looking for, in the first instance, all these sorts of things. It’s pretty rare that we get short reviews that don’t go into much detail.
Madeleine Sunley 1:00:23
Just ask them. Sorry, Sorry, fellas! But I just talked to them about it, and why it’s extra helpful to put more details in, because you’re helping other people explaining how you’ve helped them.
Phil Bray 1:00:34
Absolutely Madeleine, I 100% agree. Right. I think we’re good. We’ve answered everyone’s questions. We’ve finished broadly on time, which is always a good thing. Madeleine, I just want to say thank you for your time today. It’s been really valuable, really useful. Alex, thank you, as always, learn something every time we do these webinars together. So, really appreciative of you giving your time as well. Thank you to everybody who’s been today. I hope it was really useful. Thank you, Amanda. Thank you Ravenska, Will, Carolyn. Glad it was really useful. We’ll send out a recording later on today of the presentation, the questions in the webinar. And then if you’ve got any follow up questions, you can reach out to Madeleine, via Madeleine’s website. Alex will put his email address in there if that’s okay, in the follow up. And then if anybody wants to get a hold of me or Abi, you can simply reply. Thank you, everybody. Have a good rest today.
Alex Whitson 1:01:32
Thanks, Phil. Thank you, everybody.
Hear from our clients
Working with some great businesses.
Founder & Financial Planner, 4 Financial Planning
"The brand, logo and website has hit the brief perfectly and I couldn’t be happier! I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them.”Read More
Managing Director, NextWealth
"They were a delight to work with – super responsive to our requests and also brought lots of good ideas to the table."Read More
Managing Director, Altura Mortgage Finance
"Best of all, their results driven approach is both refreshing and helping us achieve real goals. Thank you Yardstick!”Read More
Director and Financial Planner, Annetts & Orchard
"I’m a big Yardstick fan now and look forward to working with them on future projects."Read More
Managing Director, Handford Aitkenhead & Walker
"We have felt like collaborators, rather than customers, and feel like Phil and his team has a vested interest in our marketing success that far exceeds his fee.”Read More
Financial Planner, IQ Financial
We were lucky to be referred to Yardstick last year. We are delighted we hired them. They have specialist knowledge designed specially to help Financial Planning businesses like ours.Read More
Head of Marketing, Ellis Bates Financial Advisers
Phil's style is informed, humorous and collaborative. The content is punchy, relevant, a go-to guide on how to create more recommendations and prompts action with no exceptions. Great workshop.Read More
Financial Planner and Founder, Delaunay Wealth
I am absolutely delighted with all the work the Yardstick team has done for us and am very excited about how this will drive our new business/client acquisition in future. I would highly recommend them to any financial planning firm that takes their business seriously.Read More
Director and Financial Planner, Insight Wealth
Great to work with a good professional outfit that had provided us direction and clear thinking in marketing our business effectively to obtain quality new clients.Read More
Director & Financial Planner, Citygate Financial Planning
A thorough and excellent service. Phil and his team know exactly what to do, how to do it and when to do it. We very much look forward to working together more in the future.Read More
Get in touch
Request a callback
Whatever your marketing challenges, we're here to help. Simply complete this form and we'll be in touch.