You may already use comparison or review websites to buy financial products or pick the best film or holiday destination, but you can also do the same with a financial adviser. Forget trawling through the Yellow Pages, here is how VouchedFor can help you find a financial adviser.
What is VouchedFor?
VouchedFor is a website that lets you find and compare local financial advisers, mortgage brokers, solicitors and accountants. Professionals can log on and create their own profile which includes their services, specialism, contact details, fees, location and most importantly reviews so you can get a sense of client feedback. This is important as you are likely to spend a lot of time talking to an adviser about your personal financial affairs so you need to be comfortable working with them. It also provides tips and guides on the type of questions you should be asking a financial adviser and how they can help you.
How does VouchedFor work?
IFAs, mortgage advisers, solicitors and accountants can all be found on VouchedFor. Searching for an adviser is relatively simple and is similar to how you would look for a hotel or property online. Users search by postcode and based on the type of professional they require. Users can filter results by type of product – choosing from insurance, investment and savings, mortgages, pensions, retirement, equity release, long-term care, auto-enrolment and inheritance planning. Users can also filter by distance as well as their level of savings (as some may have minimum requirements) or by those with introductory offers. The results can be ranked by best match, distance and the number of reviews.
Each profile will also show the advisers’ ratings and in some cases their fees. There will also be a contact number so you can set up a meeting or you may be able to email verified members through the website.
It is important to understand how VouchedFor works so you can assess the search results appropriately. It works as follows:
- Advisers must apply to join the website, after which VouchedFor will check they hold the necessary regulatory permissions and qualifications to practice in their chosen areas.
- An adviser must get at least 10 reviews to get their profile started and are encouraged to display their fees.
- Once an adviser meets these requirements they are invited to become fully verified members, which is essentially VouchedFor’s paid-for subscription service and gives them extra marketing tools and inclusion in adviser rating guides.
The third step is important because the results of any search will automatically default to showing you only the verified members. You will need to untick a box to view all of those who are not paying for the verified service.
How much does VouchedFor cost?
There is no charge to search and get in touch with advisers through VouchedFor.
How does VouchedFor make money?
VouchedFor makes its money by charging fees to verify financial advisers, mortgage advisers and accountants. Verified financial advisers and mortgage advisers have to pay a monthly fee of £45 plus VAT, while verified accountants have to pay a fee of £30 plus VAT. Solicitors qualify for a free monthly membership. In addition, advisers have to pay a fee to receive enquiries through the site.
Can I trust VouchedFor?
One of the big risks with reviews websites is authenticity. It can be hard to know if reviews you are reading are genuine. VouchedFor encourages advisers to verify all reviews or will do this for them to ensure there are no fakes. This gives an element of security when choosing an adviser through VouchedFor as you can see if they have been used and the type of service others have received.
VouchedFor vs Unbiased
Similar to VouchedFor, Unbiased lets you search for advisers, mortgage brokers and accountants. Unbiased has two search options. The first offers a professional matchmaking service and is a bit more long-winded. You first need to know the type of product or service you want such as financial planning, pensions or investments. You then need to add your income and details of your specific goals. Only after this will you be able to search for an adviser by postcode, but instead of automatically seeing a list of potential advisers, you will need to provide an email and phone number and wait for a matched professional to be sent to you.
Alternatively, Unbiased will let you search for an adviser based on postcode similar to VouchedFor but not every profile displays customer reviews or star ratings. Advisers can be contacted through Unbiased and it provides a response rating based on how often advisers respond to queries. Unbiased does offer some extra filters with other product choices such as stockbroking and the ability to choose a payment option such as fixed or hourly fees
VouchedFor pros and cons
Financial services is rife for scammers and it can be easy for the inexperienced to be attracted by high returns and so-called easy money. Having access to regulated professional advisers is crucial to helping people manage their finances but it can be hard to know who to trust.
People are encouraged to check the Financial Conduct Authority’s financial register to check an adviser is authorised, however the service is undergoing technical and structural changes and so should not be solely relied upon. VouchedFor provides an accessible way of finding qualified and regulated advisers.
- Efficient search
Being able to find a local adviser and contact them from one website is more efficient than having to trawl through Google search results or follow-up recommendations from friends. All you have to do is enter your postcode and email advisers you feel are most relevant to your needs.
- Verified reviews
Reviews are verified by advisers and VouchedFor and can’t be edited, which gives another level of confidence as there is less risk of being duped by fake users.
- Basic versus verified
VouchedFor provides a useful service that ensures people are put in touch with regulated advisers but of course, it needs to make money, which is where its paid-for verified service comes in. The search results on VouchedFor automatically default to verified members. These are advisers who are paying a subscription to use marketing services or receive email referrals through the site and be included in its annual top adviser guides.
You may be missing out on hundreds of other advisers on the basic membership package unless you untick a box that says only show advisers who are verified. Those on the basic package can still display reviews and there is no reason why they wouldn’t be as good or even better than those who pay for the verified service.
- Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone
Emails can quickly flood an inbox so it is important to not rely solely on the messaging function on VouchedFor. There is a risk of inertia if you simply search and send off a message when you could get started with financial planning by picking up the phone and arranging a meeting immediately.
- Local isn’t always best
Having an adviser on your doorstep may seem convenient but is it really necessary if you are only going to see them once a year for a financial planning meeting? There may be advisers who are willing to travel so it may be worth broadening your horizons and expanding the distance on the search function to see if there are other options that suit you better.
VouchedFor has received excellent reviews from its own users on Trustpilot, receiving a rating of 4.5 out of 5.0 based on 455 reviews. More than 90 per cent of the reviews rate the service as excellent or great, describing it as an effective way to find trustworthy advice. Just 4 per cent rated Vouchedfor as poor or bad, complaining that advisers they contacted through the website failed to respond.
VouchedFor provides a slick service that allows you to find a suitable and regulated adviser, much in the same way that you might use Tripadviser to find and book a holiday. To maximise your search you can filter the results by opting to see all advisers and not just those who are paying to feature more prominently in search results.
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