An adviser has shared his frustration with Unbiased's response rating system after he saw his rating drop despite responding to most enquiries in a matter of minutes.
Martin Bamford's advice firm Informed Choice had a 10/10 response rating on adviser directory Unbiased until this week, when the score dropped to 9/10.
The IFA (pictured) said the drop was "incredibly frustrating" as he and his firm had made an effort to respond to all enquiries within the first few minutes of receiving them and had never left a response pending for more than 24 hours.
The response rating, which was introduced in February, focuses on adviser activity over the previous 30 days, based on how quickly advisers accept or reject consumer enquiries.
Unbiased has come under criticism from advisers over its new feature in the past, after many deemed it was not reflective of their behaviour on the site but so far the directory seems to have failed to implement the necessary changes.
Each adviser on the site begins with a response rating of 7/10. In theory firms can increase their response rating by responding to an enquiry within 24 hours of receiving it. But the reality looks quite different.
Bamford said: "We've been told that as long as you accept or reject within 24 hours you maintain your response rating but that's clearly nonsense because we've dropped a level in the space of a week and we've accepted or rejected all enquiries within the space of a few minutes."
Part of brand
Although Unbiased isn't Informed Choice's main channel for enquiries, Bamford said the site was part of its public face and brand. Any further slips in rating and he would delete his profile, despite being a member of the site for several years, he said.
"We haven't got control over that part of our brand and reputation, we can't have people looking at us and perceiving that we're not 10/10.
"I can just about live with 9/10, but if it goes any lower than that, I think I'd have to immediately delete the profile because it's not reflective of us and our responsiveness, the quality of what we do, and our customer service."
'Not a commodity'
Bamford said he was frustrated by the emphasis Unbiased placed on response times in the first place, saying it sent the wrong message to consumers that financial advice was a commodity and all that mattered was response time.
He said: "Speed of response to an enquiry is not what consumers should be putting at the front of their mind; it's not even in the top 10 of factors when trying to find a good financial planner.
"It's the main score that any consumer sees on the profile, they don't see any other rating about how well qualified we are, how experienced we are, or our charges. It's the only score out of 10 that they see. It's all about speed of response - which is an odd thing to focus on."
Unbiased declined to comment.
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