Mystery Shopper: Lancaster

Adviser (Independent), Bridges & Company, 9-9a King Street, Lancaster LA1 1JN

Speed of response: Time of call: 9.53am. Four rings and then a receptionist put him through to an adviser. 5/5

Telephone Manner: Quite polite, helpful and friendly. 5/5

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Relevant Qualifications: Qualified to diploma level four, with specialisations in investments, pensions, mortgages and protection. 5/5

Payment Method: £150 an hour for basic advice. First consultation is free and any investments will be charged at 3 per cent of the amount invested, which is paid upfront. 5/5

Guidance Given: The shopper was asked if the pension pot of £100,000 was assigned to somebody by his father. If the pension was assigned to a beneficiary, which the adviser said was very likely, then it would not be liable for inheritance tax and would pay out approximately half of the total sum. The shopper was reminded that no loopholes existed and it was not possible to mitigate inheritance tax after the event. In this case, unless things were put into a trust, anything over £325,000 would be taxed. 4/5

Knowledge: The adviser displayed a relatively solid knowledge of inheritance tax procedures and was quite clear in conveying complex information. 5/5

E-mail/Web presence: 5/5

Verdict: The adviser was not able to help a great deal, but was nonetheless happy to provide some advice on how to potentially avoid inheritance tax in the future.


Adviser (Independent), David Kneale Financial Management, 78 Church Street, Lancaster LA1 1ET

Speed of response: Time of call: 10.11am and 10:31am. Two rings and then told to call back. The shopper called back and after five rings was put through to an adviser. 3/5

Telephone Manner: The receptionist was rude and seemed unprepared. The adviser however was friendly and happy to help. 3/5

Relevant Qualifications: Level four, which the adviser explained was the minimum qualification required by the FCA. 5/5

Payment Method: Depended on the service offered. The first meeting was free and afterwards fees would be discussed and paid upfront, either as a percentage or at an hourly rate. 5/5

Guidance Given: The adviser was insistent that this was not a straightforward process and was also eager to stress that his firm did not advise on anything relating to circumventing tax liabilities. He said inheritance tax was difficult to adjust after death and there was little option to tweak things. He advised the shopper to double check with the pension provider and life insurance company to find out if the policies were written into a trust.3/5

Knowledge: A fairly good understanding of inheritance tax, which was conveyed in a clear and jargon-free fashion. 4/5

E-mail/Web presence: 5/5

Verdict: Even though the phone call started badly, once the shopper was put through to an adviser his concerns evaporated. The adviser was genuine and provided a useful and basic summary of the steps to take.