How CANSTAR avoids conflicts of interest
Website use and content
Version: 5 August 2016
CANSTAR is committed to offering comprehensive information to consumers for free.
To generate this quality information we employ more than 80 staff with extensive experience in financial services, and we run large computer systems. This costs many millions of dollars every year, and we generate revenue in a range of ways to pay for it.
We go to great lengths to ensure that the commercial relationships we need to survive don’t compromise the quality of our ratings and research.
In many ways we are similar to a quality newspaper. We have outstanding researchers (equivalent to journalists) that publish quality material. Separately to this, we have a team that does the commercial stuff, such as selling advertisements. Just as quality newspapers take their journalism very seriously and separate the commercial side, CANSTAR takes its research very seriously and goes to great pains to ensure that our results are objective.
If you accuse a quality journalist of writing a story so they can sell an ad, they are likely to punch you. Our researchers think the same way.
Here are some of the things we do to avoid conflicts of interest:
Our research term is separated from our commercial functions
Canstar Research Pty Ltd holds an Australian Financial Services License (AFSL) and an Australian Credit License (ACL). Our core research team is separated from the rest of the business and particularly from our commercial functions.
We have a separate team in Canstar Pty Ltd that looks after our website and negotiates our subscriptions and licenses with financial institutions. We also have a separate subsidiary company of CANSTAR called DDM that negotiates advertising and lead referral deals.
You may have heard of the terms ‘info barriers’ or ‘ring fencing’. We ensure that our internal reporting structures, information access and physical layout are optimally structured to avoid conflicts of interest between research and sales that could otherwise potentially arise. Our procedures are in line with ASIC’s Regulatory Guide 181 (RG 181) ‘Licensing: Managing conflicts of interests and Regulatory Guide (RG79)’ ‘Research Report Providers: Improving the quality of investment research’.
Our data is transparent
Consumers can monitor the data we use in our ratings every day on our website, and can compare this with the bank’s own website.
Further, banks monitor our data very closely to ensure it is correct because they want to make sure they are well placed to win ratings and awards.
Ratings methodologies are transparent
We publish all of our methodologies on our website, for all to see and critique. If you were wondering, a methodology is basically the way we calculate winners based on the various prices, fees and product features.
For almost all categories we hold an annual workshop with the industry to debate and refine these methodologies.
We tell you how we get paid
Details of how we get paid are contained here.
We find that the vast majority of consumers are comfortable with this and appreciate the fact this is clearly displayed.