Almost every day it seems there’s a new award, list, Top 10, 50, 100 … or claim that a person, company or organisation is, or has, the best product or service. Especially in the finance and investment industries, you can search to compare, rate or find award winners – wealth managers, financial planners, financial advisers, superfunds, managed funds, mortgage or insurance brokers and more.
As we saw in Part 1 of this series Day 9 it’s not only quantitative data and statistics that are important in choosing an adviser or product, but also qualitative. Subjective factors so you can build a relationship of trust with your ‘financial doctor’ (Mark Bouris). Many of these types of sites tend to be based on data and quantitative measures, with varying degrees of consumer or client satisfaction information.
ASIC’s Financial Advisers Register lists people who provide personal advice on investments, superannuation and life insurance. “Where they’ve worked, their qualifications, training, memberships of professional bodies and products they can advise on.”
BUT – ASIC does not check or review the information before it is put on the register.
You can compare, rate and find award winners (often from a provider’s profile and marketing spiel) from industry associations, private and government bodies (see more in Guru Cops), media and publications (see List 1 Resources and Giveaways in the BiG Directory) including:
- Association of Financial Advisers Awards (AFA) – Adviser of the year
- Australian Achiever Awards (Customer Service)
- Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards
- Business Achievers Awards
- Canstar Star Ratings and Awards
- Choice 2016 Annual Shonky Awards
- Money Management Awards
- Morningstar Awards Fund manager of the year, Best fund house, Category winners
- Super comparison websites
- Telstra Business Awards
- Your Investment Property Reader’s Choice Awards
Google “top 50 people in business, management or leadership” and you may get:
Chris Brogan –The Strange Nature of Lists (he’s on the list) warns “try never to be swayed by lists of this nature … I’m still working hard and won’t stop until I’m on top of the list I most want to occupy: ‘People Who Equipped Me For Success,’ and only you can write that list.”
- Top 10 Financial Influencers
- Top 15 Financial Influencers to Follow on Social Media
- Top 100 Twitter Influencers in Australia… and on the lists go!
Comparing products and services
As you compare investments and advisers, be careful to compare apples with apples. And, as MoneySmart Using Comparison Websites warns, such sites have their limitations “such as:
- Comparison websites are businesses that make money in various ways, sometimes through sponsored or promoted links and commissions.
- Most comparison sites only cover a portion of the market, not the whole market.
- The search results may show sponsored links ahead of nonsponsored results that may offer a better deal. Ratings and rankings on comparison sites are sometimes given without a clear explanation, so it’s important to find out how the ratings work and compare with other sites.
When using insurance comparison websites be aware that:
- Some comparison websites have a relationship to the issuer/provider being compared, and this may not be clearly explained.
- Price is NOT the be all and endall. Price is only one feature. The most important thing is that you have the right type and level of cover.”
Awards and Ratings
Many of these warnings apply when a provider bases their credibility on an award, review or rating. So check out:
- What’s the professional status and credibility of the awarding body?
- How many providers were considered and what was the selection criteria?
- Were clients surveyed – how and how many?
- Are there any business, financial or other relationships that may cause any bias?
Referrals and Testimonials
If a provider uses client testimonials, there should be nothing to stop you from contacting the client to substantiate it. (see MoneySmart’s Questions to ask a financial planner).
But the chances are, with so much information for you to wade through, with many of us being time poor, and perhaps not having the courage to follow up on a testimonial or client – you won’t!
But, as with referrals from friends, family and acquaintances at, at least ask yourself:
- Does the referrer have any biases or vested interest?
- Are their financial circumstances similar to yours?
- Will you and your needs ‘fit’ with the provider?
Now you’ve got an insight into where to find people and sites that compare, rate and review investment information. As you’ll see, many of the sites only cover formal or registered financial advice and advisers in the investment, superannuation and insurance industries. But we hope that gives you a useful overview of where to look, and what information is around, to help you make better choices.
Tomorrow Day 11, we take a look at your research options for financial and investing information. As you will find, there are many providers, but also investors themselves, who share their information, knowledge and experience – often for free!
Then Day 12. Having found the comparison, rating and review sites for the more regulated, formal financial planners and advisers – what sort of review and regulation is there on others in the investing industry?
If you have a financial adviser, or are thinking of using one – are they registered on the ASIC register?
How do their products and services stack up? Overall performance, awards, ratings, comparisons?
Is your adviser your financial doctor, or is it time to review, or get another referral?!
Day 11 “How to choose a financial adviser and advice you can trust. It’s all about the faith! Part 3 The Investing Information Tsunami! Media, Books, Magazines, Websites, Blogs, Podcasts, Webinars …”
Day 12 “How to choose a financial adviser and advice you can trust. It’s all about the faith! Part 4 Less Regulated Advisers – Analysts, Commentators and Gurus”
I’d be delighted if you find BiG and my work helpful, and share it with friends, family and others interested in investing. All the very best with yours!
the Bucket List Investing Chick