Adviser directory Unbiased has launched a system which will see advisers rated based on the speed of their response to enquires made through the website.
Advisers will get a default rate of seven out of ten that will then go up or down depending on whether they respond to enquiries within a twelve-hour window, after which the enquiry will expire.
The rating will show up on each adviser’s listing.
The company said advisers can maintain and increase their rating by checking their enquiries daily, accepting those that they want to follow up and rejecting those that are not suitable so these can be passed on.
Michael Ossei, head of adviser product and services at Unbiased, said the new tool should encourage a change in behaviour from advisers.
‘We looked at our data about what the professionals were doing. A lot of the time, with the accept or reject model, if the enquiry was of no value to them they were just letting it go.
‘Some clients had bad credit or pension value is below £10,000. Advisers might say this is not the type of enquiry I can help with. All we are saying is instead of letting this enquiry expire, reject it.
‘If you reject it the consumer gets a response that the adviser was not available and is happy that something has happened,’ he said.
Ossei said there had been mixed responses to the rating tool from advisers.
‘There has been a mixed bag of responses with the majority of advisers asking “how is this going to benefit us? This is just the fastest finger rule.”
‘In today’s world, when people want something, they want it now – or at least, as soon as possible. Online services of all kinds have risen to this challenge, such that consumers now expect a rapid response with minimal waiting.
‘This holds true when people contact a financial adviser, so we’ve listened to their feedback and acted upon it,’ he said.
Phil Bray director of marketing consultancy The Yardstick Agency, said the tool could be good news for clients but risks leading them to confuse speed with quality.
‘I’d like to know more about the algorithm behind the ratings and how quickly advisers need to respond, in order to improve their rating. It will certainly give consumers another way of differentiating advisers on the Unbiased website and may well incentivise some to improve the response times,' he said.
‘However, it is important consumers do not confuse speed of response with the quality of advice. When selecting an adviser there are a range of factors consumers need to consider. Speed of response, while important, is far less relevant than other factors such as knowledge, expertise, and value for money.'
Bray added that some firms may find it hard to respond quickly to every enquiry through Unbiased.
‘We also need to remember that high quality advisers are in demand as never before, they cannot always respond immediately,' he said.