AdvisorSavvy — a website that allows consumers to find, rate and compare advisors — launched in Canada last week.
The site is currently looking for investment, financial and insurance advisors interested in adding their profiles to the platform. But just how eager will advisors be to expose themselves to potentially negative reviews from clients?
“I get that question all the time,” Solomon Amos, AdvisorSavvy’s founder, said in an interview. “I’ll be honest with you — the platform is not for everyone.”
Amos is confident good advisors will get good reviews, while others may have less success with the platform. And he has some expertise when it comes to advisor reviews — before launching the site, he spent years measuring client satisfaction with advisors while working at CIBC Wealth Management and BMO Private Bank.
Amos says AdvisorSavvy will give advisors a platform to market their practices — something that was often a challenge for the advisors he worked with at CIBC and BMO who received excellent client reviews.
“What I found was the client feedback on some of those advisors was great, but the advisors didn’t really have the resources to share that client feedback. And they didn’t have the resources or the wherewithal to market themselves out to prospects and consumers,” Amos said.
“I wanted to provide them with the opportunity to showcase their practice professionally to consumers who want to be engaged in their finances and want to find the right advisor.”
Advisors can sign up for a basic profile and rating account for free or pay a monthly fee for enhanced and premium accounts.
Before an advisor gets added to the site, AdvisorSavvy confirms they’re a member in good standing with their regulatory body, and checks national databases to verify their employer and area of expertise.
The site allows potential clients to search for advisors sorted by four categories: financial coach, financial planner, insurance advisor or investment advisor.
Consumers can also search based on fee model, specialty services offered (tax planning, cross-border or divorce, for example) and number of years in the business, as well geographically.
There are currently a dozen advisor profiles on the site, four of them rated.
One thing Amos knows well from his time in the industry is that a client’s satisfaction with their advisor is largely dependent on the market — something an advisor has no control over.
“Client feedback will be not so positive when the market is down, and that really has no bearing on the advisor,” he said.
To try to offset the ratings impact from dips in the market that lead to poor returns, AdvisorSavvy has clients rate their advisors on four criteria: performance, fee, contact from the advisor and whether the advisor has the client’s best interests in mind. The advisor then receives an average overall rating.
“If the market is down, the client might rate them low on performance, but they still have all those other criteria to give them a better overall review,” Amos said.
To attempt to ensure that the reviews on the site are genuine, users are required to create an account and sign in before rating their advisor.
“If there is an issue with a review, we can go back to the individual and get a little more detail on what may or may not have happened so we can actually validate that they were an existing client of the advisor,” Amos said. “The person leaving the review can leave it anonymously or can leave their first name, but they still need to sign in.”
For the time being, AdvisorSavvy has little in the way of competition when it comes to websites focused specifically on advisor ratings. Previously, MoneySense had MoneySense Approved — a marketing seal for advisors — but that was discontinued in August 2018.