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Unbiased unveils plan to overhaul consumer website

Karen Barrett, chief executive of IFA promotion search engine Unbiased, revealed the IFA promotion business is still in the early days of considering how to revamp the adviser directory for consumers.

However when asked would Unbiased follow the likes of Checkaprofessional, Tripadvisor or Ratedpeople and allow IFA’s customers to review the service they received, Ms Barrett said she was not keen on this type of rating system.

She pointed to incidents where Tripadvisor has been accused of putting hotels out of business and sued for negative comments left by consumers.

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In April this year, a Canadian Tripadvisor user claimed to have been bitten by bed bugs at a Quebec hotel and wrote about his experience in a scathing review.

On the TripAdvisor website, he gave the hotel a one star rating out of five.

The hotel asked for the review to be removed and launched defamation proceedings.

Ms Barrett said: “I do not want to go down the ratings route. My aim is to get more consumers in touch with financial advisers and highlight the need and quality of the service they have to offer.”

The IFA promotion business is contemplating allowing consumers the chance to post questions for financial advisers to answer for free to show off their expertise, Ms Barrett said.

She said giving consumers the chance to contact advisers in this way would allow them to get a taste of the quality service on offer.

Ms Barrett said: “We have got great advisers and [allowing advisers to answer questions posted by consumers] could help them showcase their knowledge.”

Plans for a revamp of the consumer-facing website come just six months after was forced to defended a 69 per cent increase in membership costs.

Earlier this year Ms Barrett said a monthly increase of membership fees from £28.80 to £48.75 had been the first in more than four years, and was necessary to mitigate against increasing costs.

She said the site was in rude health, attracting more than 450,000 searches for advisers during 2012.