The website www.adviserratings.com.au will work much the same as TripAdvisor and features a register of more than 18,000 financial advisers and planners.
Advisers are invited to populate their profiles with more information about their qualifications, memberships of industry bodies, compliance and experience. But what they won’t be able to do is falsify their adviser rating or post reviews on the website.
The site’s founders say they have strict processes in place that allow them to cross check answers provided by financial advisers. They also have safeguards to ensure no-one, either consumer or adviser, posts a false review on their website. Any adviser caught trying to falsify a rating or review may be referred to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for further investigation.
Co-founder of Adviser Ratings and former media spokesperson for consumer organisation CHOICE, Christopher Zinn, said the intent was to provide a more transparent way to compare planners and drive more confidence in the market.
“Too many consumers are paying the price of not having an expert and trustworthy adviser in making decisions about their savings and investments. We hope to help both consumers and advisers by getting consumers more engaged and asking smarter questions,” he said.
The principal of Adviser Ratings and former CFO of Virgin Money, Angus Woods, said he has been developing the idea for the website for six years.
“The time is right for an independent and consumer-led ratings and review service featuring strict controls,” Mr Woods said. “Confidence about planners is at an all-time low and it is in everyone’s best interests to clearly put consumers’ first with an initiative like this.”
Mr Zinn added, “Adviser Ratings is all about trying to correct even slightly the massive imbalance of power and information between the planning industry and consumers. We aim to make financial advice more accessible and affordable, as well as more accountable, by fostering integrity, trust and transparency in planners.”
It has been reported in the media that Adviser Ratings will be officially launched by Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen at the Association of Financial Planners conference on Tuesday 21 October. The site’s founders also claim to have the support of politicians, industry bodies, licensees, consumer groups and the banks.
Speaking of which, Westpac launched it’s own financial adviser register yesterday (13 October 2014). BT’s Adviser View lists the qualifications, expertise and professional memberships of all 1100 financial advisers who work in the Westpac Group, which includes Westpac Bank, Bank of Melbourne, St George and Bank SA.
Speaking to The Australian Business Review Brad Cooper, chief executive of BT Financial, said potential clients using the Adviser View site would “be able to see a star rating which has been provided on that adviser, by consumers”.