Adviser directory VouchedFor has confirmed it has increased random spot checks on reviews for planners, hoping to better crack down on poor quality of service.
In correspondence seen by Money Marketing, the adviser review website says it has “recently stepped up” its examination of clients’ feedback since April to ensure reviews are from real customers.
This came in response to a query from Slipaczek Chartered Financial Planners director Filip Slipaczek, who’s firm was targeted for two separate checks in the space of four weeks.
Responding to Slipaczek’s query as to the frequency of review checking, VouchedFor says: “We do try to only allow a spot check for the same advisers reviews, once in a months period as to not cause too much disturbance.”
Speaking to Money Marketing, VouchedFor managing director Alex Whitson says the site has the most robust verification process of its competitors.
He says: “Our review verification process includes an algorithm that looks for fraudulent reviews and we also require advisers to confirm that a reviewer is a client before they see the content of the review (if they don’t we will conduct further investigations to establish whether the reviewer is a client).
“Spot checks of some level have always been part of this review verification process however, since April 2019 we have stepped these up by randomly asking advisers for evidence that a reviewer is a client.”
Slipaczek is one of only two advisers who have been doubled checked in a small space of time, Whitson confirms.
He says: “The response to us increasing our review spot checks from the vast majority of our members, who are typically big supporters of greater transparency and checks, has been very positive.
“It’s incredibly unlikely that advisers will be regularly asked for this evidence.”
VouchedFor chief executive Adam Price spoke out against flaws in the FCA’s register last year following the British Steel Pension Scheme fallout.
He called for more public confidence in private sector advice search functions and drew attention to notable errors on regulator’s site.
This included a case last year in which the FCA had to pay out £22,137.50 to a complainant who lost pensions savings after relying on incorrect information.