"The importance of reviews is clear to see": Jess Rushton, Smart Money People

We spoke to Jess Rushton, head of business development at Smart Money People, about women in finance, the importance of customer reviews, and why firms should manage and respond to reviews, positive and negative, to attract and retain customers.

Related topics:  In The Spotlight
Rozi Jones | Editor, Barcadia Media Limited
3rd May 2024
Jess Rushton Smart Money People
"It does amaze me that some firms either do not encourage customers to leave reviews, but even those who do, many do not have robust processes to use the feedback in reviews to the fullest potential."

FR: Please can you give us a brief overview of Smart Money People, your role there, and a little bit about your background.

Smart Money People is a financial services review site, helping people and financial companies to create better outcomes. We share the collective wisdom and experiences of consumers to provide insights and ideas to help businesses improve and grow. We also run the bi-annual Mortgage Lender Benchmark study which analyses the state of the mortgage industry according to brokers’ views, with the H2 2023 being our eleventh edition.

As head of business development, my role involves identifying new business opportunities and partnerships to help the company grow.

Overall, my goal is to help Smart Money People continue to expand its reach and influence in the UK, while also ensuring that the site remains a trusted source of information and advice for our users.

In terms of my background, early in my career, I completed a graduate scheme at a car rental company. Shortly afterwards, I move into a junior marketing role in an insolvency practice.
Soon, I realised how much I missed working with external clients, so moved to the business development team covering Yorkshire and the North East for four years. I then worked for the UK’s fastest growing investment company, where I met dozens of amazing businesses.

When the opportunity arose to join an exciting and fast growing fintech business to establish a business development team, I jumped at the chance and joined Smart Money People in December 2021.

FR: You were recently recognised as one of the mortgage industry’s Elite Women of 2024, what achievements do you believe helped you win such an accolade and what does it mean personally to you?

As mentioned earlier, twice a year, we release our Mortgage Lender Benchmark report – which features many of the most well-known lenders and gives in-depth analysis of the mortgage market. The judges recognised the work I undertake to communicate the value of our Mortgage Lender Benchmark to featured lenders and providers so they can benefit from the report’s insights.

Today, it’s the industry’s largest broker feedback survey – with 105 lenders represented in the most recent H2 2023 report, and 792 broker responses.

Elite Women also recognises contributions outside the workplace – and I raise awareness and fundraise for the charity ‘Lady Talk Matters’. My Instagram account also advocates for better provision around women’s health, and I even took my fundraising to a new level by completing the London Marathon last year!

Personally, it’s a real honour to be recognised for the work the Smart Money People team are doing in the mortgage industry. I’ve worked in the financial services space for over ten years now and have been inspired by many other 'elite women' along the way. We’re looking forward to making an even bigger difference to the market in 2024, using our unique insight to help lenders and brokers provide the best service for homeowners up and down the country.

FR: You talk a lot in the press about the importance of customer reviews, do you think we as an industry need to do more on this subject and why is it so important?

I think we can always do more and it does amaze me that some firms either do not encourage customers to leave reviews, but even those who do, many do not have robust processes to use the feedback in reviews to the fullest potential.

In a recent blog I said that it’s clear that reviews shape our buying decisions across almost all parts of our lives. In fact, our recent research shows that 84% of customers trust reviews from other customers.

From building trust and credibility to influencing purchase decisions and providing valuable feedback, the importance of reviews is clear to see. Companies should manage and respond to reviews, positive and negative, to maintain a strong online reputation and attract and retain customers.

FR: What trends have you seen regarding customer reviews over the last year?

According to reviews left on the Smart Money People site in 2023, we’ve analysed the data and can report the below:

• The most popular day to leave a review in 2023 was Thursdays. Thursdays were also the day with the highest overall rating and highest count of four and five-star reviews.
• Tuesday was the day that we saw the most unsatisfied customers leaving a review on Smart Money People, with the highest one and two-star review count.
• Fridays were another notable day in 2023 and where reviews had the highest average rating for customer service.
• People in London wrote the most reviews on Smart Money People in 2023. Lancashire followed in second place.
• Selkirkshire and Dumfriesshire were the happiest counties, leaving the most positive reviews over the year.
• Hertfordshire, Berkshire and Northamptonshire were joint as the most unsatisfied counties, leaving the most negative reviews.
• Northern Ireland was the region that left the most positive reviews in 2023. This was followed by Scotland and the North East.
• The unhappiest region was the East of England, followed by the South East and Greater London.

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