Review website responds to broker concerns

by Julia Corderoy17 Oct 2014
Co-founder of new consumer-led review website for financial planners has responded to brokers’ concerns over the site’s independence and validity, and said there would be no reason why it couldn’t work in the broking industry as well.

Christopher Zinn, co-founder of said independence is absolutely central to its mission.

“The only way this website will really work is if it is completely independent, otherwise it would lose confidence amoung consumers and advisers and it would fail. Our mission is to be as independent as possible; it is absolutely central to our credibility and any authority we might have in this area.

“The reason we have done this is because of issues around conflict of interest. We would be 100% self-destructive if we strayed into areas where we could be accused of conflict of interest.”

When asked about revenue, Zinn said it is self-funded at the moment but it will eventually need to be capitalised – probably through advertising or investment to ensure it remains free for consumers. 

“That is correct. We will have to monetise it eventually, although we have already turned back some investment from those who are in the industry because we felt it would compromise independence. We will not put other people’s money where our mouths are.”

Zinn assures that the website does follow processes to ensure the reliability and validity of consumer reviews on the site.

“We do have a system of verification and moderation of comments. We do look where they come from, so if we get multiple reviews from same IP address it will raise red flags. We also follow guidelines set by the ACCC. 

“However, we do acknowledge that ratings and review systems do have limitations – even the Oscars aren’t 100% full proof. But once you get to a critical mass, the wisdom of the crowd will overwhelm any of those at the margin who seek to advantage themselves or disadvantage others.”

If the website proves successful, Zinn says there is no reason as to why they wouldn’t explore launching something similar for the broker market.

“I don’t see a reason why it wouldn’t work for brokers and we will be looking for other areas we can expand into. Of course, only if there is a want or need for it by consumers. If consumers think it would provide better information on how brokers work or how brokers compare, then we would definitely explore it.

“It’s good that the MFAA has a database that allows consumers to search for qualified brokers, but the MFAA is an industry association, which quite rightly will look after the interests of the industry first and foremost, not necessarily the consumer.”