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Adviser Ratings reveals data source

The 18,000 financial adviser listings on the controversial Adviser Ratings website came from a commercial deal with research and publishing house Rainmaker Group.

While declining to name the dollar figure, Adviser Ratings spokesperson Christopher Zinn confirmed to ifa that the list of advisers appearing on the website – which allows consumers to rate advisers and post comments about them – was provided to the start-up by Rainmaker following a financial transaction between the two.

“It was a commercial transaction,” Mr Zinn said. “Although I would also add that [Adviser Ratings director Angus Woods] has been compiling a database for some time as well, but some of it did come from Rainmaker.”

While some commentators have welcomed the move – such as shadow treasurer Chris Bowen – a number of advisers have voiced displeasure over their inclusion on the site without permission, requiring them to opt-out.

One financial adviser who has already taken steps to opt out pointed the finger squarely at Rainmaker, suggesting the sale of personal information was a breach of trust.

“Rainmaker has on-sold my personal information for a price and I think that is appalling,” the adviser said.

“They have secured my data through my readership of [Rainmaker-owned publication] Financial Standard and attending events and conferences and they have no right to sell that for a commercial gain,” he added.

Another AMP-aligned adviser told ifa it was “odd” that his business had never been approached before being included on the list.

FPA chief executive Mark Rantall said more broadly that the commercial nature of the Adviser Ratings venture means his organisation will be “keeping a watching brief”.

“I would argue that financial planning is a far more critical service than whether you’re happy with your hotel stay or not, so we need to make sure the data is accurate,” Mr Rantall told ifa.

“This is a commercial transaction and we need to be careful about the outcomes of that and what the profit drivers are,” he said, adding that he sees the Adviser Ratings website as fundamentally different from the BT/Westpac register.

However, Mr Zinn hit back at suggestions that the website’s business model colours its reliability.

“We don’t have anyone behind us with an agenda or interest,” Mr Zinn said.

“It was Angus [Woods] and I that want to do this in the consumer interest. We have put in our own funds and resources so obviously there needs to be a return at some stage.”

Mr Zinn said the FAQ page of Adviser Ratings has been updated to assist advisers interested in opting out.