Mystery Shopper: Bristol

Gerard Associates, Hampton House 115-119 West St, Bristol BS3 3PD

Speed of response: Time of call: 9:59am. Call answered after six rings. 4/5

Telephone manner: Polite, friendly and keen to listen. 5/5

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Relevant qualifications: The adviser explained he was a fully qualified and registered financial adviser. 2/5

Payment method: He stated that there was no charge for simple advice. 3/5

Guidance given: The shopper was immediately advised to switch to a repayment mortgage, either through the same lender or by seeking assistance from a mortgage broker. He said mortgage brokers can offer information on the best available deals, should the shopper be interested in switching provider. The adviser was also fairly adamant that opening a savings vehicle at this stage was not a viable option, as they cannot necessarily guarantee the full repayment of the mortgage. 5/5

Knowledge: The adviser seemed fairly clued up on this issue, despite insisting he rarely dealt with these types of queries. 4/5

Email/web presence: 3/5

Verdict: Even though the shopper was impressed that the adviser gave free personal advice, he was surprised that no further questions were asked or no appointments discussed, to potentially work out how to plan and budget finances.

Score: 26/35

Adviser: L V Nicholas Financial Planning, 5 Newcombe Drive, Stoke Bishop, Bristol BS9 1SR

Speed of response: Time of call: 10:30am. Picked up after four rings. 5/5

Telephone manner: Friendly and helpful. 5/5

Relevant qualifications: He explained he was fully qualified and had been practising for many years. 2/5

Payment method: The adviser said the first hour meeting was free, and thereafter it depended on the type of services required. His typical rate was £120 p/h. 4/5

Advice given: The shopper was advised to get his mortgage paperwork together before meeting the adviser, who could then help him organise his finances and figure out how much of the mortgage could realistically be repaid each month. He explained that in moments like this it was important to budget and work out the maximum that could be paid on the mortgage and was more than happy to go over the shopper’s incomings and outgoings for free. 3/5

Knowledge: He demonstrated a solid understanding of this particular issue and was very informative on the current climate and how repayment mortgages worked. 4/5

Email/web presence: 5/5

Verdict: The adviser was eager to help resolve the problem and repeated that he was happy to help draw up a budgeting plan free of charge.

Score: 28/35

Adviser: Sovereign-IFA, 55 High St Thornbury, Bristol BS35 2AP

Speed of response: Time of call: 10:44am. Four rings and then a quick chat with reception, before being put through to an adviser. 5/5

Telephone manner: Friendly, polite and patient. 5/5

Relevant qualifications: The adviser confirmed he was fully qualified and registered on the FCA website. 2/5

Payment method: He explained that the initial meeting was free. If further advice was given, then a fee could potentially be charged, depending on the outcome or type of service offered. 4/5