The Financial Planning Association today announced an extension of its Find a Planner service that will incorporate personality and profiles when matching people with their adviser members.

By supercharging its online finder tool, the FPA has thrown its hat into the ring to compete with fintechs looking to design a better way for connecting clients with wealth management professionals digitally.

“We believe this new interactive matching service we’re working on is a gamechanger for how people and planners find each other,” FPA chief executive Dante De Gori says. “It’s built on our inherent understanding as professionals that every person’s needs, goals and personal circumstances are different.”

The announcement of the FPA’s further investment in its online matching service coincides with the announcement by the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority that the association’s premier Certified Financial Planner designation would be worth just two degree credits. The FPA’s leadership hopes initiatives such as the improved matching tool make membership in the association more valuable.

The FPA’s souped-up matching is not unique in the marketplace; AdviserRatings.com offers a similar service but relies on user ratings to guide potential clients towards a suitable advice provider.

The new tool will lean on six distinct filters the association has identified as most important to consumers when searching for a planner: trust, comfort, tailored recommendations, rapport, impartiality and reputation.

The FPA reports that the current online Find a Planner service, which is based purely on location, “has proven very successful, with on average 6900 searches, 14,500 profile views and 40 direct messages per month”.

De Gori says, however, that while those numbers are good, consumer expectations in the digital economy are elevated and a simple geographic search isn’t good enough.

“The current Find a Planner tool is heavily based on geographic location,” he says. “Research confirmed our hypothesis that it’s an important decision criteria but not the primary one. The new Find a Planner online service ticks more of their boxes.”

The new Find a Planner will be released in early 2019 and sit within the FPA’s Money and Life website.

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Tahn Sharpe is a Sydney-based financial services journalist with a background in financial planning. He writes on advice, superannuation, investment, banking and insurance issues, is a certified SMSF Adviser and holds an Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning.