The head of marketing for the PFS, has said the overhauled Findanadviser.org, the PFS’s directory of members, is being tested and is set to be relaunched to the public by the end of June.
He said once the new site goes live with listings of all 21,500 members who have a statement of professional standing (SPS) “nobody else will be able to offer such a reference site for consumers.”
At present PFS members have to opt-in to have a listing on Findanadviser. Fewer than 10,000 of the PFS’ members are currently listed on the site.
Mr Hutchinson added: “Unbiased did well to create the kind of lead in that market, while it was still relevant but a lot has changed now.”
When asked would Findanadviser compete with Unbiased and VouchedFor, Mr Hutchinson said: “They have been a competitor of Findanadviser in the past. That is no longer the case. Unbiased is trying to make a profit. It is a commercial site as is VouchedFor, which has considerable private equity backing.
“We are not competing because we are not looking for customers. It is purely a reference site and we are not taking an extra penny out of the consumer’s purse. It is a service that consumers will benefit from.”
The PFS has engaged with Which and Citizens Advice over the relaunch.
Right to Reply
Karen Barrett, chief executive of Unbiased, said her search engine was the largest, actively managed database with 15,800 advisers currently listed – all of whom were active.
She said Unbiased’s search filters did allow simple searches but argued some consumers needed to be able to search for more than just location and general areas of interest of an adviser.
Ms Barrett added: “A professional body is obviously subsidising the cost of running the directory. Everybody needs to have money to run a sustainable directory.
“Our funding comes from such as product providers and advisers. We are transparent about the fact we accept charges for enhanced packages but you can be on the directory for free. Advisers pay the PFS through membership fees.”
Adam Price, founder of VouchedFor, said his service has a listing for every adviser in the UK and just shy of 2000 IFAs have claimed a full profile for free.
However Mr Price said a standard plan has a quarterly subscription of £40 for which, he said they receive a 10-fold return on their spend over three to four years.