In a nutshell, what does vouchedfor.co.uk do?
We let people find, rate and review independent financial advisers. We are like a Trip Advisor for finding the right financial advice.
Where did the idea come from?
I used to work in financial services. Friends and family would ask me who to speak to about their money, and I couldn’t really give them a good answer. I would tell them not to go to the banks – because their advice is quite heavily tied to specific investment funds – and that they should instead get independent advice. However, I couldn’t really guide them in terms of where to go. There are about 30,000 advisers in the UK who typically work in pretty small firms, and it is hard to know which ones to turn to. So that is where the idea of a review and rating model came from.
When did you start up?
How has it gone so far?
The first year was a challenge but in the second year we have gone from having 100 advisers registered on to the platform to nearly 1,000. We have got just over 3,000 client reviews and have picked up credibility from websites like Which?, the FCA, and Money Saving Expert. They all link to us a good place to find financial advisers. So we are gaining some good momentum.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
The hardest thing is getting the review system right. It has got to be really reliable. Trip Advisor often gets criticism for its reviews being fraudulent and with something like this, it is much more important that they are genuine because you are not picking a hotel, you are picking a financial advisor, who in turn will tell you how to plan for your pension, your retirement, that kind of thing. It is life changing stuff. Secondly, whilst a hotel will potentially have thousands of customers a week, financial advisers have maybe got 50 active clients, so you have to work really hard to get a decent representative sample of reviews for any given adviser.
How does vouchedfor.co.uk differentiate itself from the competition?
There isn’t really anything else letting people review and rate IFAs. There are things like Google Reviews and yell.com where you can rate and review financial advisers, but people don’t because of the challenges I have mentioned. Those companies haven’t overcome them. And then there are other websites where you can see a list of financial advisers but they don’t allow you to rate or review, so there is not really anything doing quite the same thing as we are.
What is the best decision you have made to-date?
Getting those things right around the review system and bringing technology in-house to support that. We are constantly iterating the website to get it just right.
Where will the business be in 12 months’ time?
We have just gone through our second round of funding and got some really great investors on board. In 12 months, I would want us to have several thousand advisers registered, and well over 10,000 reviews. We are considering potentially expanding into other categories like accountancy but we haven’t made a final decision on that yet.
If you had one piece of advice for entrepreneurs, what would it be?
I think it would be not to underestimate the work involved. Make sure you are realistic about the time it will take for something to really take off.