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Questions raised over Unbiased rating system

Questions raised over Unbiased rating system

Adviser directory Unbiased’s Response Rating system has caused some concern after research found several anomalies.

Phil Bray, director of adviser marketing support company The Yardstick Agency, carried out research which appeared to suggest there were anomalies between the speed with which an adviser responds to enquiries and their rating.

Using data from eight firms, Mr Bray found four of them let between 12.5 per cent and 100 per cent of their enquiries expire but they all ended up with the same Response Rating of seven out of 10.

One firm which let all their enquiries expire ended up with the same rating as a firm which let none of them expire.

Mr Bray said this mattered because Unbiased was still seen as the predominant directory in the market.

He said: “Unbiased is still regularly mentioned in the press, online and in many wake-up packs. It is still seen as a trusted way of finding a financial adviser.

“It is also an important source of new enquiries for many advisers, which is why, for the avoidance of doubt, I still recommend advisers use it.”

Unbiased introduced the Response Rating system in February, with every adviser starting on a level playing field with a seven out of 10 rating.

They could maintain or improve this by checking their enquiries daily, regardless of whether they accepted or rejected them.

But Mr Bray said that if consumers were to rely on this rating, it would need to be “robust, credible and fair”.

In another instance, Mr Bray’s research found four firms let no enquiries expire over the same period of time, but all ended up with different ratings.

He has sought clarification from Unbiased on how the Response Rating works but said the directory has not provided it.

Unbiased also declined to comment when contacted by FTAdviser.

Unbiased has previously been accused of confusing clients by installing a new process which means customers cannot see which adviser they have been matched with.

The directory has also come under fire for allowing some advisers to buy their way to the top of its consumer website’s listings.