Given the angst surrounding "plain language" ADV disclosure, it's a little sad the industry still needed something like BrightScope's new database of advisor backgrounds.
The company, best known for rating qualified retirement accounts, just unveiled its "Advisor Pages" system in the hope that the public will use it to research advisors before they sign up.
From the investor's point of view, the database looks like a catalog of personal and corporate home pages that can be searched by advisor or firm name.
Right now, the directory seems focused on simply reformatting ADV forms and other regulatory filings -- all of which goes a long way toward making this information accessible to people who don't know the difference between a registered rep and an IAR.
There looks like a lot of room deliberately left for expansion.
BrightScope left space for information on topics like fee arrangements, professional designations, and firm services, but a casual tour of the site indicates that these slots haven't been filled yet.
In theory, advisors will be able to log in to add information. However, I couldn't find a way to do this. Maybe it hasn't been turned on yet?
In the meantime, a casual search reveals that the profiles of industry luminaries like Lew Altfest and Sheryl Garrett, for example, look incomplete without a way to indicate the CFP mark.
Something like this is always going to be a work in progress, but if it or another site -- maybe one funded by the trade groups themselves -- gets traction with the public, so much the better.