New Awards Ceremony Sees Consumers Pick Their Online Investment Champions
Glitzy award ceremonies are nothing new in the consumer-facing investment industry. Investment magazines, the money and finance sections of newspapers and industry bodies all have their annual awards shindigs. Accolades are handed out and mutual back patting is aplenty. However, like awards ceremonies in other industries, the Oscars being a prime example, the irony is that those the final products are produced for, retail investors, usually have little to no say in which are recognised. There’s occasionally a symbolic ‘public’ vote but it generally has far less influence than the nominations of panels made up of ‘expert’ judges.
Investing online information website Boring Money states as its mission to explain investment and personal finance products and approaches in everyday language. Stripping back industry jargon and sometimes opaque fee structures is its raison d'être and what founder Holly Mackay has built her reputation on. As such, it should probably come as no surprise that a consumer investment services awards ceremony organised by Boring Money, in partnership with The Telegraph newspaper, decided to place the voice of consumer investors as central to selecting the winners of a range of categories.
The concept behind the inaugural ‘Consumer Investment Awards’ was a ‘TripAdvisor’ approach to rating consumer-facing investment providers. That meant the end consumer’s opinion was sought, rather than relying on expert judges presuming what is of most benefit for those consumers. 4000 readers of The Telegraph and Boring Money website were asked to nominate their winners across categories for:
- Best Online Pension Provider
- Best Customer Service
- Best Value for Money
- Best Online Investment Provider
- Best Communication in Pensions
- Most Impactful Newcomer
The organisers did put together an initial shortlist of nominees in each category which respondents were invited to choose their nomination from. However, an ‘other’ choice was also an option. This proved to be an addition which helped throw up surprises and demonstrated that the public’s opinion does not always correlate with that of industry insiders. The Share Centre was not among the original short-list for Best Customer Service but ended up winning the category due to the number of votes received under the ‘other category’.
AJ Bell’s YouInvest service was nominated Best Online Pension Provider with Hargreaves Lansdown runner-up and True Potential Investor receiving commendable mention. Vanguard Investor was considered Best Value for Money by those investing online. AJ Bell’s YouInvest collected another gong in the Best Online Investment Provider category with robo-advisory newcomer Wealthify nominated as runner-up and both Interactive Investor and True Potential Investor commended.
Best Communications in Pensions was the one vote supplemented by input from four independent judges whose job it is to read all materials provided by companies. Explaining simply and transparency the sometimes complex details and rules around pensions is still considered to be a major failing of consumer facing investment companies. So much so that many end clients don’t actually read a great deal of the communications directed towards them. Hargreaves Lansdown was the winner here and True Potential Investor runner-up. Mention was made to the fact that, without mentioning names, the bigger and older companies generally showed up poorly in the category.
Finally, Investec Click and Invest was the winner of the Most Impactful Newcomer category for the investment giant’s new services usable ‘online journey’ and progressive use of social media.
So, all in all, some good pointers for those investing online considering opening a new account or switching provider and a welcome fresh approach to giving consumers a voice and recognising the finance companies who are doing a good job as far as their clients are concerned.
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