Testimonial IQ, a reputation management platform designed specifically for financial advisors, launched on Thursday.
Testimonial IQ is a full-service SaaS platform that helps advisors generate reviews on Google, monitor their digital reputation, and generate marketing content that is in compliance with SEC and FINRA regulations. The company was recently backed by Techstars, an incubator and startup accelerator.
Founded earlier this year, Testimonial IQ was built following a historic change to the SEC’s marketing rule, which for the first time allows advisors to use testimonials and third-party ratings in advertisements — under certain conditions.
The rule took effect last November but advisors and compliance officers have been hesitant to take advantage of the new rule, in part because of its complexity.
Andrew Johnson, founder and CEO of Testimonial IQ, said that when they building the technology the company consulted with former SEC auditors, compliance officers, fintech and SEC attorneys, and advisors.
Johnson, who also founded Datalign Advisory, a lead generation technology platform and RIA, said he was interested in using his experience in tech and wealth management to help advisors capitalize on the new rule.
The platform is similar to testimonial sites like BirdEye, but it was built following the marketing rule.
According to Johnson, most testimonial and compliance tools that exist today aren’t equipped to deal with the new guidelines.
“Every piece of compliance tech over the last 20 years was designed to specifically prevent advisors from accidentally using testimonials or performance results,” Johnson said. “Testimonial IQ was really built around the FINRA and SEC rules so that financial advisors could build a digital reputation to get more reviews to improve their SEO, all while making sure their compliance officers were willing to sign off on it.”
The company is not a review site, rather, Testimonial IQ helps advisors gather and share reviews through a bifurcated process that can be monitored by the firm’s compliance team.
“When you google someone, the first thing that comes up is Google reviews,” Johnson said. “Advisors need to be really careful of third-party content because if an advisor were to say ‘Go check out my 4.8 stars on Google,’ – which is what restaurants and hotels and everyone else does – the moment they reference that third party rating, they are adopting and promoting that content and they become accountable for it. It’s a huge challenge as an advisor.”
“So, we bifurcate the process. When a client submits a review through our platform, we give them the = ability to reshare that review on their Google business profile but then we also send that review to the advisor through our platform, and in that review capture the client’s permission to use that review in marketing materials,” Johnson said.
Advisors aren’t able to pick and choose what reviews are sent to Google, that’s up to the client to decide. Johnson said the technology creates a compliant process to monitor, gather, and promote reviews.