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May 02, 2021

Controversial website highlights financial advisors, warts and all

Finding an advisor is often a hit-and-miss process driven by word-of-mouth referrals. It's not easy to sort through the alphabet soup of credentials and find an advisor who fits your needs.

Ad That’s why Brightscope, which offers online performance measurement tools for 401(k) and other pension plans in the U.S., recently launched a free service to help people research and shop for financial advisors.

BrightScope Advisor Pages pulls together a variety of public data that most consumers would have trouble finding into a single view, and allows users to search and compare advisors based on qualifications, amount and types of assets under management and area of specialty.

It also lets you see red flags such as legal disputes, customer complaints and regulator actions as well.

BrightScope says its aim isn't to punish unscrupulous advisers. The company hopes that once its directory pages become more popular, advisors will embrace them as a marketing tool and upload extras such as pictures, information about their practices and perhaps even performance data.

But some advisors maintain that their profiles are incorrect because BrightScope is relying on public information that’s incomplete or in some cases out-of-date.

“The problem I have with the site is that it purports to act in the public's best interest, but the truth is that they are interested in using my information under the guise of acting in the public's best interest to drive traffic to their website,” financial planner Craig DuVarney told InvestmentNews.

BrightScope CEO Mike Alfred says he was expecting immediate pushback: “We are going to offend, piss off and infuriate thousands and thousands of people," he predicts. "We are probably going to receive hundreds of letters from advisers saying, 'Take this down or I'll sue you.'”

Nonetheless, Alfred believes that, in time, good advisors with clean records will see the value in such transparency – personally and for the industry's reputation.

If the service were expanded to include Canadian advisors, would you log in? What are you doing currently when looking for an advisor?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money

* Follow Gordon on Twitter here.




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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...