Unbiased.co.uk is calling on the Money Advice Service to white label an adviser search function on its website as the MAS looks to boost adviser referrals.
The MAS has commissioned Financial Services Consumer Panel member Teresa Fritz to lead a three-month project on improving referrals from the service’s website to financial advisers.
The latest available figures on MAS referrals show that between April 2011 and March 2012 the MAS referred 3,000 people to regulated financial advisers out of a total of 1.1 million website users, equivalent to 0.3 per cent of users.
The MAS website currently includes links to several adviser directories, including Unbiased.co.uk and Vouched For, but not in prominent positions on the site.
Unbiased.co.uk chief executive Karen Barrett says the MAS should include links to adviser directories on relevant content pages such as annuities, and should consider white labelling a directory on the site.
She says: “Maximising referrals is all about clear signposting on relevant pages, and the MAS could do a lot more to link to adviser directories on topics such as pensions and tax planning.
“We provide white label versions of our site to a number of organisations so we are talking to the MAS about whether they could white label our service.”
Barrett says she would like to see the number of referrals to advisers “at least” treble to 9,000 a year.
She says: “The MAS has a huge budget, so the opportunity is much, much bigger than 3,000 referrals a year.”
Fritz, who has worked for over 35 years in financial services, including as a principal researcher for consumer organisation Which?, says: “Most non-regulated advice services at some stage have to bridge the gap between ‘help and guidance’ and ‘regulated financial advice’, but it is tricky to do it well.
“I am delighted the MAS has decided to tackle this challenge head on.
“We will consider a range of options to see which provides the best customer journey and delivers the best outcomes.”
Fritz is expected to deliver her recommendations to the MAS in the coming weeks.
LifeSearch chief executive Tom Baigrie says: “It is really good to see the MAS talking to advisers and focusing on how to make sure its site is more than a reference point and helps consumers get the financial service they need.”