With a net promoter score of more than 50 and an average of 18 years’ financial planning experience, Australia’s “most trusted” advisers are an elite bunch. But the standard has been set, and it’s one that all financial planners can aspire to.

A smartphone app and website promoting Australia’s most trusted financial planners has been launched by Beddoes Institute to help generate greater trust and confidence in Australia’s financial planning community.

The Most Trusted Adviser Network (MTAN) smartphone app (currently only for the iPhone) lists 32 planners – financial planners who have passed a stringent set of tests and benchmarking to emerge as the best of the best. As the top 20 per cent of the top 20 per cent of advisers, they rate as the top 4 per cent of advisers in the country.

Membership of the network is by invitation only, and only advisers that enjoy a net promoter score (NPS) from their clients of 50 or more are eligible to be invited. The advisers in the network have an average NPS of 71, according to a director of Beddoes Institute, Dr Adam Tucker (pictured).

Who are Australia’s most-trusted financial planners? See below

Tucker says the creation of the network is the result of three years’ work “and a lot of statistic analysis” of the performance of leading financial planners.

“I think more and more it’s becoming evident in our media that trust is a really very important and central theme that we as a speciality need to grapple with,” Tucker says.

“What we sought to do three years ago was to create a validated set of scientific tools…for auditing the quality of financial advice practices, and to use that data and put that data in the hands of practitioners so they can assist the growth of their own practices, assist the growth of their service offering and service delivery to consumers.”

Evidence-based

An evidence-based approach to research means “the best advisers can be identified – and that’s what we’re here to celebrate today: fantastic advisers that we’ve been able to identify”, Tucker says.

“We’re also able to make that available to consumers who are trying to grapple with how they seek quality or identify where they can get quality advice from.

“And thirdly, and just as importantly…is to lift the profile of the Australian advice industry within the Australian community.”

Tucker says the MTAN is “entirely self-funded”.

“There has been no other contribution made by any other financial stakeholder in the production of this program or the app – it’s entirely out of our own pockets,” Tucker says.

“We’ve done this for a number of reasons, which I won’t go into, but principally because we can.

“We’ve been working with some fabulous advisers, we’ve been collecting commentary from a range of consumers including their clients, and we think there’s a lot to be said for the work that’s been done there. We’re in a position to do that.”

Leading practices

Tucker says the MTAN was drawn from Beddoes’ work with advice practices it was already working with through its Leading Practice program.

“Unashamedly these advisers we’ve been working with – we call them ‘leading practice’ advisers – are definitely in the top 20 per cent of the spectrum of advisers in terms of their performance and their standards and their outcomes,” he says.

“As a result of working with all those advisers we’ve got several thousand client experience ratings – ratings across the whole journey that a consumer takes in terms of approaching advice, through those early stages and through the full gambit to becoming a long-term client. All of these consumers are active.

“As part of this research work we’ve quantified the triggers of seeking advice…and we’ve mapped that journey out with a high degree of accuracy; and we’ve identified an objective benchmark for exceptional client service.”

Tucker says that overall, service standards in financial planning are excellent, but the entrenched level of mistrust in the community about the industry and its practices is a hurdle for consumers.

“We are seeing a standard of service in financial advice that we have not seen in other sectors,” Tucker says.

“Trust grows over a period of time, within the context of a relationship.

“How does a consumer start? That’s the challenge.”

“We are engaged in a widespread number of independent audits of financial advice. Most of those advisers will not qualify to become a member of the most trusted adviser network. We will make the offer if their consumers rate them highly enough.

Net promoter score

“Principally, we use the net promoter score.

“This is a standardised and validated measure, across a number of sectors.

“[It] was a way that we could benchmark the performance of these most-trusted advisers against the performance of the best companies in a range of other sectors. And I think that teaches us something.

“Once you become a most trusted adviser, you don’t get to just stay there. Most trusted advisers’ practices are audited through the use of a client experience survey on a 12 or 18 monthly basis. If they continue to make the grade they continue to stay [in] the most trusted adviser network.”

The net promoter score works by assessing which clients of a firm are classified as “promoters”, at the top of the satisfaction scale, and which are classified as “detractors”, a the bottom of the scale.

“When you divide the top by the bottom and standardise that you have a range from minus-100 to plus-100. Anyone involved in market research will tell you that if you’re at zero or above, you’re good; if you’re 50 or above you’re excellent.

“In the Leading Practice [program] we had the top 20 per cent of advisers in the country. We identified them as providing a level of service that was superb. What we didn’t expect was if we looked at the top 20 per cent of the top 20 per cent, that there would be a significant difference. What we found was that there was.

The new standard

“That became the new standard, and that’s the standard for most trusted adviser, and that’s a net promoter score of 50.

“We’re talking about the top 20 per cent of the top 20 per cent –and if anyone wants to do the maths, that’s the top 4 per cent [of all advisers].”

Tucker says validation of the most-trusted sector found that these practices delivered “significantly better outcomes to their clients”.

“If you’ve got a client that’s been travelling for a time with an adviser, they know whether their financial position is better,” he says.

“They know whether their outcomes are improving, whether they are on track with their own objectives. Furthermore, there are a number of other ways in which clients check advice – with other professionals, with family and friends, with the internet.

“When we ask the clients of these most trusted advisers, were these advisers delivering significantly better outcomes for them, the answer was yes – statistically better than the other advisers, which we re very good, I might add.”

What does a Most Trusted Adviser look like?

By gender:
Female – 25 per cent
Male – 75 per cent
By experience:
Years working as financial planner: 18.2 (avg)
Years working at same practice: 13.4 (avg)
By education:
Diploma/TAFE certificate: 38 per cent
Undergraduate university degree: 54 per cent
Masters degree: 4 per cent
Other: 4 per cent
By industry qualification*:
Certified Financial Planner (CFP): 58 per cent
Diploma of Financial Planning (DipFP): 21 per cent
Fellow Chartered Financial Planner (FChFP): 13 per cent
Other: 13 per cent
*Advisers may hold more than one qualification

Who are the Most Trusted Advisers?

Brett Schatto – Pride Advice; Adelaide
Jenny Brown – JBS Financial Strategies; Melbourne
Anne Graham – McPhail HLG Financial Planning; Melbourne
Justine Back – Back to Back Financial Planners; Young, NSW
Olivia Maragna – Aspire Retire Financial Services; Brisbane
Rory Mooney – 360 Private Wealth By Design; Adelaide
Michelle Tate-Lovery – Unified Financial Services; Melbourne
Troy MacMillan – The Wealth Designers; Perth
David Clark – Clark Pacific, Macquarie Park; NSW
Dennis Jones – Beacon Wealth; Melbourne
Christie Rigg – 360 Private Wealth By Design; Adelaide
Brian Woods – Nexus Wealth Management; South Perth
Ross Vanderwolf – Rothgard Financial Partners; Brisbane
Nella Grida – Pride Advice; Adelaide
Nicholas Sinclair – Wealthfarm, Southport; Qld
Tim Rogers – 360 Private Wealth By Design; Adelaide
Stephen Degiovanni – Aspire Retire Financial Services; Brisbane
Stuart Brown – Bartons; Camden Park, SA
Stephen Catania – Assured Financial Partners; Perth
Adam McCann – Bartons; Camden Park, SA
Lisa Haley – Unified Financial Services; Melbourne
Mark Rando – Rando and Associates; South Bunbury, WA
Joe Nowak – Joe Nowak Financial Services Group; Brisbane
Gino Saggiomo – Rothgard Financial Partners; Brisbane
Gary O’Sullivan – Blueleaf Consulting; Sydney
Stephen Kostarelas – The Wealth Designers; Perth
David Pitt – Panoramic Financial Services; Perth
Derek Mondy – Panoramic Financial Services; Perth
Calum Laing – Panoramic Financial Services; Perth
Phillip Win – Profile Financial Services; Sydney
Kurt Ohlsen – Profile Financial Services; Sydney
Richard Capel – Profile Financial Services; Sydney

Source: Most Trusted Adviser iPhone app

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Simon Hoyle is head of market insight for CoreData Research.