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Unbiased vs VouchedFor: why advisers are split

Unbiased vs VouchedFor: why advisers are split

As adviser directories Unbiased and VouchedFor go head-to-head in a fresh battle for market share, Financial Adviser asked those using the lead generation sites for the verdict on how they measure up.

The two websites have in recent weeks launched new advertising campaigns to attract paying advisers to their lead generation and marketing services, fuelling what has been dubbed the ‘directory wars’.

Last week, Unbiased unveiled a new brand and user tools, with a ‘multi-channel’ push to get the message out to consumers. When asked whether this was in response to similar moves by rival VouchedFor, head of adviser products Michael Ossei denied a conflict.

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“VouchedFor is going for high-net worth while we are not that kind of business. We cater for everybody.

“It is not head-to-head, it is almost complementary,” he said, adding: “VouchedFor has put pressure on us to be out there and talk about our products.”

In April, VouchedFor launched a national televised advertising campaign on Channel 4. The charm offensive followed in the wake of adviser anger that VouchedFor had increased its prices in order to provide validated leads, after complaints it had been sending advisers unsuitable potential clients.

Unbiased has also come under fire recently for introducing its ‘Location Plus’ service, allowing advisers to buy the highest ranked listing in postcode districts.

An Unbiased spokesperson said it “never has and never will make recommendations about which particular advisers people should choose”.

But Sense Network’s head of marketing Philip Bray said the change “left a bad taste in the mouth”.

Unbiased

Lite

Plus

Plus Unlimited (only available to advisory firms who subscribed before Lite and Plus were launched)

Monthly fee

£29 + VAT

£59 + VAT

£59 + VAT

Enquiry cost   £30 + VAT per accepted enquiry    

£30 + VAT per accepted enquiry (first enquiry each month is free)

None, unlimited enquiries included within monthly fee

Alex Whitson, chief marketing officer for VouchedFor, said it now has over 8,000 advisers, solicitors and accountants on the directory, with the average number of enquiries received by an adviser in 2015 being 27.

Unbiased declined to give a comparable breakdown of its activities.

Comparing the cost of each service, Mr Bray suggested VouchedFor’s charging model is more complex, although he added that it offered a wider range of options, like having enquiries “validated” and “qualified”, as well as allowing advisers to specify the level of client wealth they would like to target.

VouchedFor

Verified  

Unlimited

Any level of wealth

Monthly fee

£45 + VAT

£45 + VAT   

Lead cost

No enquiry charges

Enquiries capped at 4 per quarter

Validated: £45 + VAT

Qualified: £67.50 + VAT

No maximum number of enquiries

VouchedFor’s lead costs increase on a sliding scale as the amount of investable assets rise, with advisers paying £200 plus VAT for validated potential clients with over £500,000.

Mr Bray suggested that as long as an adviser is not working in a very specific niche, using both directories is probably best.

“Advisers should start with one of the paid subscriptions for Unbiased and a free VouchedFor listing, only moving this to a paid subscription when sufficient client reviews have been posted. Then I would monitor the effectiveness over time, say six to 12 months, while tweaking the profiles to optimise results.”