1 September 2015
Welcome to CANSTAR from our CEO and Managing Director, Andrew Spicer
CANSTAR takes pride in helping consumers make better decisions. We love to hear stories of consumers who have used our website to improve their finances. We now have around 3 million visits each year, and two in three people recognise the CANSTAR gold logo.
We have a team of 60 talented people who collect, analyse and research over 30,000 loans, cards, policies and products. We see consumer education as a major part of our role. We’re trying to make our site useful and easy to use, and you’ll often see our research and researchers quoted in the press and on television.
Our star ratings system is designed to help consumers increase their chances of finding the right product. We would encourage you to add five-star products to your shopping list.
Our data is used by over 300 financial institutions to fine tune their products. We provide the information for the ‘Bank of the Year’ – with Money Magazine in Australia. Government bodies such as ASIC, APRA and the Reserve Bank use our research.
Frequently asked questions
- How do your ratings work?
- How are you different to ‘comparison sites’?
- How do you get paid?
- Do banks or insurers have to pay to be rated?
- Can you give me advice?
- Who owns you?
1. How do your ratings work?
The secret to our ratings is that we compare on value, not price. Do you want to buy the cheapest car on the market? Some do, but most want a car that meets their needs in terms of size, safety, looks and so on.
Our ratings balance price and features, to get overall value, which we then convert to a number of stars. We collect large amounts of information on over 30,000 financial products. Our research committee then determine the ratings using a ‘formula’ or ‘methodology’. This is always displayed on the website so you can see how we’ve done it.
We normally rate based on a ‘profile’. For example, in health insurance a young single person has different needs to someone who is retired and won’t be having more children. Our ratings take account of these differences.
CANSTAR holds Australian Financial Services and Credit licenses and takes all its compliance obligations very seriously.
2. How are you different to other ‘comparison sites’? Should I trust you?
CANSTAR is a research company and we are different to comparison sites for several reasons.
- We compare on value, not price.
- We display a very broad range of products, including major brands.
- We have financial experts on staff.
- We are transparent. We publish our methodologies and the data used.
- We have been around for more than 20 years
3. How do you get paid?
CANSTAR is committed to offering comprehensive information to consumers for free.
To generate this quality information we employ around 60 staff with extensive experience in financial services, and we run large computer systems. This costs millions of dollars every year, and we need to generate revenue in a range of ways to pay for it. There are four major ways we get paid.
- Subscriptions to our databases: Banks subscribe to our databases so that they can keep an eye on their competitors without having to spend hundreds of hours on competitor websites. Interestingly, when CANSTAR first started in 1992 the internet didn’t exist and staff had to walk the streets to do this. From a consumer’s point of view, the fact that banks are prepared to subscribe to our databases says a lot about the quality of our data.
- Ratings licenses: Once five-star winners have been determined, financial institutions have the opportunity to use the CANSTAR rating or award in their marketing. A fee is negotiated for allowing the winner to use the CANSTAR name and award. We don’t disclose this as we negotiate it individually in every case, just as newspapers don’t disclose the exact amount that an ad has been sold for. CANSTAR’s research team determines five star ratings without fear or favour.
- Advertising: CANSTAR allows limited advertising on its site. Our goal is to present quality advertising that is highly relevant to consumers. We always include an ‘advertising’ or ‘sponsored link’ sign above the ad so people know what it is.
- Lead referrals: On our tables of data and also on some advertising we provide links to third party sites. The primary purpose of these links is to help consumers get more information to enable them to make informed decisions. Secondly, we may receive payment for these referrals. Again, we do not arrange our data tables or base our ratings information depending on how much a third party may pay us. CANSTAR takes its research very seriously and goes to great pains to ensure that our results are not influenced by commercial arrangements.
For details, see How we get paid.
4. Do banks or insurers have to pay to be rated?
Banks, mutual banks, credit unions, building societies and other providers that subscribe to Canstar’s database are automatically included in the Canstar ratings process, which includes daily collection of rate and fee data and regular collection of up to 300 pieces of feature data per product.
If institutions do not subscribe to the Canstar database, the research team may include the provider depending on their size, relevance to consumers, range of products etc. For example, a very small provider which doesn’t service many consumers might not be included.
Insurance, Superannuation and Managed Investment providers are included depending on their size, relevance to consumers, range of products etc. In some cases we will exclude certain providers. For example, in health insurance we only rate ‘open’ funds that anyone can join and in superannuation we only rate funds that are in the top 30 or with greater than $100m in funds under management.
Canstar’s objective is to cover as much of the market as possible to provide consumers with the widest possible coverage.
5. Can you give me advice?
CANSTAR is not licensed to give personal advice. We can only give ‘general advice’ that is not tailored to an individual’s needs. We strongly encourage consumers to get personal financial advice from a qualified adviser.
6. Who owns and manages you?
CANSTAR is not owned by a financial institution. It is privately owned by private shareholders.
Our Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director is Andrew Spicer. Andrew joined CANSTAR in 2007 and led the diversification of CANSTAR from banking into insurances and investments. He launched CANSTAR Blue, our consumer ratings firm, in 2010. Andrew was a group executive at Suncorp Metway, CEO of IT company WebCentral, and a McKinsey consultant, working in the financial services practice. He holds an MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management where he won the Finance Prize, and has completed the leadership program at Harvard Business School.
Australia’s Premier Financial Data Provider
CANSTAR is Australia & New Zealand’s most comprehensive, specialist research service used by over 300 financial institutions, government, media and finance professionals.
Our researchers monitor over 30,000 products available in Australia and New Zealand. These include home loans, savings and term deposit accounts, credit cards, rewards programs, margin lending, personal and car loans, package banking, business banking, life insurance (term, TPD, trauma, income protection, business expense), bonds, car insurance and more. Since 1992, CANSTAR has been highly regarded as the premier supplier of research and analysis for banks, building societies, credit unions, life and general insurance and other financial services providers, as well as the media.
CANSTAR provides Australia’s only fully interactive online service in retail and business finance. CANSTAR customers use the extensive online database for competitor analysis as well as a means of disseminating their product range.
CANSTAR also distributes this information to print and electronic media for publication and to Advisers, Dealer groups, Accountants, Brokers and Internet Portals for use in advising their clients.
CANSTAR’s Head Office
Level 21, 143 Turbot Street
Tel:07 3837 4100,
Fax:07 3837 4141,