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VouchedFor: FCA directory could see more ‘bad’ advisers being picked

The proposed FCA directory that will include advisers’ details could see more people finding “bad advisers”, according to adviser review site VouchedFor.

A LinkedIn article by VouchedFor chief executive Adam Price says this is because the regulator’s consultation paper pitching the directory suggested little around underlying adviser checks being substantively improved.

In the article, Price says: “The FCA register’s biggest failing is not how difficult it is to use. Its biggest failing is that it contains advisers of varying quality – from brilliant to inconsistent to completely rogue. Many of the advisers responsible for the recent British Steel scandal were listed as approved advisers.”

He says if the FCA cannot guarantee an adviser is reliable then that responsibility should be shared with companies in the private sector.

Price says: “We need private-sector innovation to provide more compelling consumer propositions – making the value of advice clear, the process super-easy, the cost low and the quality of advice invariably high.”

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He adds: “There is a belief that only non-profit or public sector adviser search services can be trusted [and] it’s nonsense as a universal rule.”

Price also says the FCA should challenge review services like VouchedFor, spreading the burden of identifying bad advisers across the industry by opening up access to information.

The directory has been proposed for next year, and will include more information about people working in financial services than is currently available.

The FCA said last week it would address an issue with its register, after paying out £22,137.50 to a complainant who lost pensions savings after relying on incorrect information.


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There are 22 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. The issue with private sector adviser directories such as vouchedfor & unbiased is that they give prominence to those advisers who ‘pay to play’ – making them an inherently flawed concept.

    • I work at VouchedFor. I’m glad you raised this Justin as there are some misconceptions around what advisers can pay for here.

      To be clear, VouchedFor do not enable advisers to pay their way up our search listings or bid for enquiries. Our search listings are geared towards finding the best adviser for each consumer based on factors like distance, rating, number of reviews and performance in our various checks.

      It’s true that to appear as ‘available for contact’ on VouchedFor, advisers must be on a paid membership. Most advisers are on our Verified membership which is £45 + VAT per month. The subscription fee funds the ongoing checks that we do to ensure that advisers are maintaining high standards, as well as the cost of raising consumer awareness of the importance of good advice. It’s of course not the case that advisers who don’t pay us aren’t good, we just have limited visibility on whether they are or not.

      Perhaps a not-for-profit will receive the significant funding required to do a proper job on checking all advisers (and, yes, we know we have more to do here) AND raise consumer awareness of the importance of great advice…but past efforts don’t give me confidence.

      • Exactly Alex, proves my point. When running searches on vouchedfor I only ever see advisers who pay £45pm appear in the subsequent listings. Appreciate you have to make a living, but from a consumer point of view it’s inherently flawed.

  2. Precisely Justin. I tried to get listed on Vouched For previously and couldn’t because we were ‘restricted’ advisers (by product not provider). Having now moved to pastures new I have found we still cant listed as we dont deal with investments. We are Equity Release advisers, so in theory we can be listed but wont appear in any searches because we dont deal with investments, despite them having a mortgage category!

    I cant give Vouched For any money and I have tried!

    • Hi MW, we do now list those restricted advisers that pass our checks and build up client reviews. This said, we don’t currently list pure play Equity Release advisers – mainly due to our search journeys and checks not being built for this. They could be adapted and I’d welcome your input here – please send your details to if interested in discussing further. Thanks, Alex

  3. Vouched For: “are you breathing?” “Is everything that you say compliant and correct as an IFA?”

    If you can answer ‘yes’ to both of these q’s you are on the list!

  4. David Cathcart 17th July 2018 at 5:43 pm

    “The subscription fee funds the ongoing checks that we do to ensure that advisers are maintaining high standards” – Lets get this right, the only checks VouchedFor carry out is to see if they appear on the FCA register and a sample of the email reviews from the leads provided. This by any standards does not qualify as a valid test to ensure that advisers are maintaining high standards.
    Also I did a mystery shop on VouchedFor and was gobsmacked by what I was told. They stated “that restricted advisers are tied to an insurance company and can only sell products of that company”. Well if that is their understanding then their checks on the quality of an advisers are completely invalid. I think the writing is on the wall for VouchFor when the FCA get their act together to produce a more in depth register. I think this is the issue here.

    • Hi David, our checks are more comprehensive than you suggest –

      1. We check each adviser is FCA regulated
      2. We check their independent status, service by
      3. We check adviser’s location and contact
      4. We require advisers to upload certificates
      for their qualifications
      5. We check their client reviews are genuine
      6. We ask everyone who submits an enquiry to an
      adviser on VouchedFor to leave a first
      impression review of their experience
      7. We encourage advisers to publish their fees
      8. We monitor complaints and news outlets
      9. We monitor client outcomes, e.g. how many
      are happy and get the help they need
      10. We also give qualifying advisers tools to
      showcase their reputation (e.g. firm ratings
      badges and certificates), which help
      reassure consumers (whether they found the
      adviser on VouchedFor or not)

      This said, we know there’s more to do – we’re committed to strengthening our checks, which is partly on us and partly about all key stakeholders (FCA, PFS etc.) in the industry collaborating properly to generate better outcomes.

      Our definition of restricted aligns with that set out in MIFID II and is clearly visible on the profile of any restricted adviser on our site.

      Happy to discuss further on a call, are you free today?


  5. £45 + VAT a month for Vouched For and Unbiased to say that you’re a Good Adviser!
    Makes no sense. My referrals tell me that and they pay me!!!

    • Hi Lawrie, it is principally advisers’ clients (not VouchedFor) that determine whether advisers are good. We offer independent verification of this as well as running our various checks, as listed above.

      Used right, this builds consumer confidence and helps drive more referrals from all sources.

      Happy to discuss further. Thanks.

  6. Julian Stevens 17th July 2018 at 6:20 pm

    The FCA said last week it would address an issue with its register, in the wake of paying out £22,137.50 of levy payers’ money to a complainant who lost [his] pension savings after relying on incorrect information. No employees of the FCA have been disciplined, sanctioned, fined or in any way held to account for this chronic failure to ensure that the information available to consumers is accurate and up to date.

  7. There are soem serious flaws with a system when it is pay to play.Ramsgate where I live, there nearest advsier willing to “pay to play” is 11 miles away and when you scroll donw further, you have advsiers in “Little Clacton” coming up as being 36 miles away, when that might be as the crow flies (or seagull), but it’s actually 128.1 miles by road according to google maps and from Ramsgate, you can get to Calais in France just as quick if you by via Eurotunnel.
    Some of us don’t want to pay to play as we prefer referrals from and to people who actually know US and the person introducing. That’s why you need an accurate and efficient public register of authorised advisers as most damage in the industry is done by unauthorised introducers and misuse of SIPPs.

    • Hi Philip,

      Quite right to challenge this. Our geographical coverage is now very extensive across the UK – though there’s certainly more to do.

      The furthest adviser on page 1 of a Ramsgate search is 21 miles away in Folkestone (46 minutes by car) – – not as near as we see in other locations but a distance that most clients or advisers are willing to travel.

      You are absolutely right that most advisers prefer referrals from people who know them or one of their clients. Verified members who use our reputation tools effectively find they encourage more of their client base, as well as other professionals, to refer people to them. Why? Referrers take confidence from the fact that the person they are referring isn’t just taking their word for it that the adviser is good.

      I’d welcome the chance to discuss this and any other ideas further with you, if you are free for a conversation today?


  8. Some of the steelworkers ‘found’ Active Wealth by searching on Unbiased which they were recommended to do by MAS. So private sector adviser directories and no better a guarantee of quality than one run by the regulator

  9. The FCA register could so easily be well managed. Just add a single ‘trustpilot’ or homegrown review process to it – doesn’t need moderation particularly other than a reporting process for incorrect reviews. Bad mouthing will be reported by the victim, review stuffing by their civic minded neighbours. In both cases lies need to be held to account.

    It does not need to be complicated – and I think these single service expensive directories like Unbiased and VouchedFor are probably a temporary phenomenon due to the technology to replicate them being seen as ‘complicated’ by company managers for whom the internet works by magic.

    The basic process for producing a robust review site is a week’s work for a competent coder – implementing it as ‘pretty’ and integrating it securely into existing infrastructure takes a little longer, but are skills that should be well honed in any significant organisation these days.

    Take away the smoke and mirrors and there really isn’t much of any complexity left.

    • Trustpilot? Most investment scams have five star reviews on Trustpilot. By contrast most reputable regulated investment firms have none at all.

      A golden rule for consumers is that if it’s on Trustpilot it’s a scam.

      The absolute last thing we should be doing is encouraging consumers to think they should rely on star reviews for any financial product.

      • Before Vouched for and Trust Pilot there was Trading Standards “Buy with confidence scheme”. I was the first advisery firm on the list. When we chanedg out client agreements pre-RDR to include an explanation of teh longstop (which does apply if a Ltd Co or LLP firm stops trading unlike a sole trader or partnership), having got in to oru well publicised argument with the then FSA over the inclusion of that line in our agreement, we were told we eitehr had to remove mention of the Longstop for our client agreements OR leave the BWC scheme. We chose the latter and 3 years later were proved RIGHT when the FCA finally accpeted we could (and probably should) explain that the Longstop does apply. Needless to say we didn’t rejoin BWC and whilst we were on Vouched for for a little while, the one lead we padi for wasn’t a lead and we’ll never pay to play again.
        A personal reccomendation from a client to their friend/family is good for the client and good for the adviser as they feel guilty abotu introducing someone to use who might waste our time and we tend to help smaller cases we’d never take on if they are a referral from an existing client, but wouldn’t touch with a bargepole/pay for a lot of those which come via these sort of unsolicitated enquiries.

    • Hi John, the problem here is how much effort goes into verifying that reviews are genuine. Mass market review sites like TrustPilot only require an email address to ‘authenticate’ a review.

      Phil Bray wrote an interesting blog on the subject recently –

  10. @Alex Whitson,
    I am only repeating what I was told by your young lady when I rang – I think you have major training issue that you need to address.
    In addition I asked her one simple question, ” If the adviser/s they recommend turn out to be rogue, what comeback does the client have with VouchedFor – you can guess what the answer was.
    So the position is, a client approaches VouchedFor and they recommend a number of advisers based on their detailed due diligence checks, but then accept no responsibility if things go wrong.
    In my opinion, these so called checks mislead the client into thinking VouchedFor have some liability for the introduction they provide. I think these companies need to be regulated and hold PI cover.

    • Hi David, as outlined in Adam’s blog, we’re very happy to be held to a set of standards by the regulator. We are working with advisers, consumers and all other relevant stakeholders to help clarify what shape these should take. Thanks for your input.

  11. Nicholas Pleasure 18th July 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Seriously? This is just an advertorial for Vouched For. A re-print of a press release that they were smart enough to issue following the FCA register debacle.

    Let’s not confuse the FCA register, which is supposed to be the definitive list of authorised firms, with an advertising site.

  12. VF…great research site for ambulance chasers to go phishing !!
    Other sites are also available too, one must hasten to add

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