Vouchedfor has warned bosses of the trade body set to replace the Association of Professional Financial Advisers of the challenges of creating an IFA directory.
On Monday (8 May) the Association of Professional Financial Advisers and Wealth Management Association announced plans to merge next month to form the Investment Management and Financial Advice Association (Imfa).
Liz Field, currently chief executive of the WMA, who will lead the new trade body, said if Apfa members back the merger then advisers would get an adviser directory akin to her association’s “Find a Wealth Manager” proposition.
Ms Field said the WMA’s directory allows members of the public to fill in a tick list of criteria such as their location, if they want an execution-only broker, etc, and then it lists who is able to offer that service.
She said currently the trade body has several members of the public calling every day looking for a wealth manager and her staff directs people to the directory.
She said: “We would want to build up a similar directory for the Apfa membership.”
A new website will need to be built, but Ms Field said she hoped the directory would be up and running by the end of the year.
According to Ms Field, members of the new trade body wouldn’t be charged any extra for featuring on the directory.
This would put the new service in direct competition with paid-for adviser directories VocuhedFor and Unbiased.
Ms Field said: “What we do, just as we do with our own, is we also redirect some public agencies to it. Some of our members also refer to it themselves.
“It will be an easy to use reference for individuals.”
Alex Whitson, chief marketing officer of Vouchedfor, said his search for an adviser facility was fully supportive of anything that raises the profile of advice with consumers and makes it more accessible.
But he warned the new trade body that the challenge for these types of initiatives was justifying the funds to not just build a directory but to make it great and promote it.
He pointed to “notable failures” such as the Money Advice Service’s directory.
Mr Whitson said: “The bias towards not-for-profit in our sector does not always translate into greater consumer and adviser value.
“We invest a great deal of time and money in helping consumers arrive at the best adviser for them.
“They are aided here by 60,000 plus client ratings and reviews, which gives us a clear point of difference in the market.
“So, we welcome this move as it could help more consumers connect with advice though we are also aware of the challenges in doing this effectively.”
A spokesman for Unbiased was unavailable to comment on the plans for a new adviser directory.