Meet VouchedFor managing director Alex Whitson – helping UK businesses become more acquirable through client trust

When selling a business, finding the right balance between helping the seller secure the best possible price for their firm and helping the buyer find the most suitable acquisition is so important.

No different to any situation when money changes hands, selling a business requires trust between both the acquirer and the seller. That’s where a review service like VouchedFor can make a massive difference.

VouchedFor was set up in 2012, to provide consumers with a suitable platform to review the financial advice they had received.

Since then, through its Elevation system – a highly descriptive survey that highlights their clients’ feedback and shows firms where they are (and where they aren’t) meeting client expectations – the site has expanded to help financial advice firms pinpoint the aspects of their service they can improve. This can help them meet their Consumer Duty obligations, too.

While being an incredibly useful way for consumers to find trusted and professional financial advisers local to them, VouchedFor is also proving to be highly beneficial for business owners wanting to make their firm as acquirable and desirable as possible.

We spoke with VouchedFor’s managing director Alex Whitson about the importance of trust between client and adviser, and the close link between consumer reviews and successful business exits.

He says: “We are a very mission-driven business. Our primary aim is to help people access the best financial advice for them. We want to help build trust between clients and advisers and seek to share positive client stories wherever possible.

“If advisers are doing a great job for clients, we want to make sure that’s highlighted as much as possible. I believe that everyone should have access to one-to-one financial help, and hopefully VouchedFor can play a part in achieving that.”

“Only a third of people trust financial advisers. We want to change that”

Alex says he’s incredibly frustrated that a lot of consumers are scared to trust the advice they receive from financial advisers and planners.

He says: “Only 36% of consumers currently trust the financial advice sector. We need to do more to change that. We want to call out the many advice firms that are doing a great job and help give the estimated 8 million people who could benefit from advice, but haven’t accessed it, the confidence to engage.

“That’s why we are trebling the reach of our Top Rated Financial Adviser Guide campaign in 2024. Traditionally only published in the Times, moving forward, you’ll also find the Top Rated Guide in the Telegraph and the Mail on Sunday.”

Working hand-in-hand with Consumer Duty obligations

Consumer Duty is now making it even more important for business owners to focus on the service they are providing their clients. To help financial advice firms identify how best to improve their customer service, VouchedFor has launched a new system, Elevation.

Alex says: “Providing financial advice firms with clear and actionable data means they can quickly identify areas they need to improve, as well as areas where they are providing outstanding service.

“Elevation is like a much more powerful client survey. It shows firms how they are doing, as well as drawing from analysis of feedback from more than 250,000 clients to show how to improve.

“The system benchmarks advisers and firms against the industry in areas like client advocacy and risk. The aim is to help financial advisers provide the best possible service for their clients and, in turn, help build trust.”

Having a platform that helps acquirers take less risks is essential

Of course, ensuring that advisers provide a higher level of service also enables those firms to become more acquirable for potential buyers.

With the Office for National Statistics revealing that more than 300 mergers and acquisitions took place in the UK in the first quarter of 2023 alone, there is demand for acquirable businesses, but competition is rife and therefore it’s essential to make sure that yours is as desirable as possible.

Alex says: “We have noticed a significant change in the attitudes of acquirers. They are putting a greater focus on value and are consulting a range of data sources to get comfortable with the risk and quality of their acquisition targets.

“In previous years, acquirers sometimes took on more risk than they wanted to in order to get a deal. But increasingly, they are using data provided by Elevation and other sources to better inform their purchases.”

The importance of benefiting both the seller and the acquirer

When selling a business, finding the right balance between benefiting both the seller and the acquirer is incredibly important. Alex believes that Melo is perfectly placed to do both and is proud of the part VouchedFor plays in helping all parties too.

He says: “It’s evident that Vicki and Brian really care about their clients and understand how to ensure the best possible outcome for both the seller and the acquirer.

“With acquirers now being more discerning when it comes to finding businesses to purchase, it is so important for sellers to make themselves as desirable and acquirable as possible.

“The Exit Partnership plays a great role in helping the sellers do exactly that, assisted by the fact that their founders have been there and done it themselves.

“Aside from helping firm owners improve the service they provide their clients, collecting the right client feedback and data can also help them increase the amount of money they receive through a sale.

“Conversely, for acquirers, having the ability to look ‘under the bonnet’ of the business they’re looking to purchase means they can make safer and more sensible buying decisions.”

Hopes for the future of the financial advice sector

Alex believes in the quality of the financial advice profession but is concerned about how few consumers trust the sector. While he has hopes for the future, he also appreciates that the profession needs to do better to help firms attract more clients.

Get in touch

If you’re looking to sell your business, we’ll provide you with honest and comprehensive support throughout. We’ll help you find the right buyer for your business, give you that peace of mind that you need, and help make the transition as smooth as possible.

Email or call 0113 4656 111.

Please note

This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.


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