Unbiased's policy of collecting a 'pay to connect' fee for every lead generated through its 'Connect with an adviser' button in addition to the monthly fee it charges has led to adviser concerns about the value of membership.
Last year, Unbiased introduced its new system whereby advisers are charged £36 per lead for connections generated through the orange ‘Connect with an adviser' button on its home page. These additional fees are not included in the monthly subscription fee already paid by members of the adviser portal.
Clayden Associates director Dan Clayden described the changes as "money-grabbing" and maintained the extra payment on top of a subscription fee was not fair and "anything but unbiased".
He argued the prominence given to the button meant many consumers would not scroll down to the alternative search function that allows potential clients to connect at no extra charge to advisers.
Referrals ‘dried up'
Before the changes, said Clayden, his firm received five or six new introductions a year through unbiased but, since the launch of the new connection system, it has received just the one.
"The site is becoming less and less attractive to the firm," he continued. "I have been an IFA for 16 years and a member of what was originally IFA Promotions and is now Unbiased all the way through. It was probably the main source of brand new clients getting in contact with us. That has all but dried up - unless we're prepared to pay the extra for the referrals.
"I pay Unbiased £106 per month. You always hear advisers moaning about their FCA fees or the cost of PI insurance but, if I am not going to pay the extra £36 on principle, £106 for not much become quite an expenditure."
Clayden also highlighted the variable nature of the enquiries that come through the 'Connect with an adviser' button, explaing: "As a firm, we have decided not to pay for the enquiries on the basis you don't know what it's about. It could be somebody is just calling for a quick bit of information, and you've had to pay £36 for giving some free advice over the phone.
"If it was a system you paid extra for on the basis it led to that person becoming a client, I could live with that, but this is why I haven't used other lead generation sites in the past. Unbiased always used to be a different option to the rest, but it has changed. I've fed back my feelings on this but have yet to receive an answer."
Last month, advisers compained to Professional Adviser that Unbiased was "dangling a false carrot" with its new features, with Red Circle Financial Planning director Darren Cooke saying he was considering deleting his profile on the portal due to the changes.
When contacted about this story, Unbiased declined to comment.
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