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VouchedFor reveals top-rated IFAs by region

Adviser rating website VouchedFor has revealed the top-rated independent advisers for 49 regions of the UK in the first of what it hopes will become an annual award.

IFAs who received the best star ratings out of five included, among others:

• Four individuals from Evolve Financial Planning in London (Jason Witcombe, Steven Williams, Stephen Griffiths and James Norton);

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• Ben Westaway of Jessop Financial Planning (South Yorkshire);

• Peter Repton of Positive Solutions (North Lincolnshire);

• Two advisers from Kelvin Financial Planning in Glasgow City (Michael Jackson and Chris Malcolm); and

• Three advisers from Penguin Wealth in Cardiff (Craig Palfrey, Oliver Pughe and Gavin Baos).

According to VouchedFor founder Adam Price (pictured), firms had to have at least 10 reviews for at least 50% or 4 of their advisers (whichever fewer). He explained that the site uses both an automatic and manual process to verify the legitimacy of reviews.

Mr Price added that the site only offers verified accounts to independent advisers. There are ‘unverified’ accounts on the site that could include restricted advisers and which can be reviewed, but these accounts are not eligible to receive awards.

“What most review websites don’t do is, we require advisers to verify the review is genuine. If we review the data and see something odd we know the adviser is complicit in it.”

He added that this method prevents advisers from cherry-picking which reviews appear on the site.

“If they don’t verify a review or reject a review we go back to the client to verify it ourselves. All they would achieve is to annoy the person even more. Even if you had friends do it, it would trigger certain patterns.”

He said these sorts of bogus reviews have been very rare.

“If we do find fraudulent reviews we have the right to report that to the Financial Conduct Authority or network or compliance officer.”

Mr Price previously (23 May) defended VouchedFor against criticism that negative reviews very rarely appear, when former adviser and Candid Money founder Justin Modray claimed it was in “neither the site’s nor the advisers’ interests to publish negative reviews”.

VouchedFor now holds entries for approximately 2,000 advisers representing around 1,500 individual firms.

Mr Price last year (17 July) told FTAdviser sister publication Financial Adviser that he was looking to create virtual and physical endoresments for intermediaries who received positive feedback from the website.

Best-rated firms will receive a Best Rated Firm ‘badge’ for use online and in marketing materials indicating their region and rating out of five.

The site is also helping advisers market themselves with a service package including a billboard ad at their local train station, half-page ads in local magazines, emailers, social media and PR activity.

For the full list of winners, click here.