CompaniesAug 28 2013

Mystery Shopper: Lancaster

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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.


Adviser (Independent), Burton and Fisher Financial Services, 33 Princes Crescent, Bare Village, Morecambe LA4 6BY

Speed of response: Time of call: 10.12am. Five rings and then straight through to an adviser.5/5

Telephone Manner: Friendly, enthusiastic and professional. 5/5

Relevant Qualifications: Level four. 5/5

Payment Method: The initial chat would be free and then £85 per hour, or a percentage, usually 3 per cent, of any investment. 5/5

Guidance Given: The adviser told the shopper that there was no way to wriggle out of inheritance tax, other than potentially consulting a solicitor about a deed of variation. The first questions asked referred to the pension and life insurance and whether they were placed in a trust. If so they would not be liable for tax as assets placed in a trust do not enter the deceased’s estate. Contacting a solicitor and checking details of the assets was advised. 4/5

Knowledge: Sound knowledge of inheritance tax procedures, including a useful understanding of the legal process behind wills and probate. 4/5

E-mail/Web presence: 5/5

Verdict: Overall a very good service. The adviser was well equipped to deal with all the questions, explained things very well and left the shopper feeling confident on any further relationship.


Provider: Standard Life, Call Centre

Speed of response: Time of call: 10.45am. A representative answered after two rings. 5/5

Telephone Manner: Polite and patient. 4/5

Relevant Qualifications: Standard Life does not offer a financial advice service and its call centre staff were not qualified to do so.0/5

Payment Method: Free for generic information. 2/5

Guidance Given: The customer service adviser told the shopper that Standard Life did not offer financial advice on tax and had not for about 10 years. He said a generic information guideline was available on the Standard Life website and that uk could be a good port of call to speak with a professional financial adviser. 2/5

Knowledge: Understandably limited as the shopper was speaking to a call centre agent who mainly dealt with basic queries. 1/5

E-mail/Web presence: 3/5

Verdict: Not very helpful. The shopper expected Standard Life to offer some assistance on inheritance tax but the call centre agent just directed him to a website.