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Mystery Shopper: Liverpool

Adviser (Independent), Stirling House Independent Financial Advisers, 80 Abberley Road, Liverpool L25 9RB

Speed of response: Time of call: 11.16am. Four rings. 5/5

Telephone manner: The adviser had a pleasant telephone manner and was easy to speak to. 5/5

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Relevant qualifications: Qualified to level four since RDR came into effect. 5/5

Payment method: Depends on which option was chosen. For investments there would be a 2 per cent initial charge, but for a bank savings account it would be best to go to the provider direct. 4/5

Guidance given: The shopper was presented with two options. Either save the money into a bank bond or invest the money in the stock market. For the latter it was necessary to sit down and carry out a review in person to assess the shopper’s attitude to risk and time frame. The riskier the investment, the higher the potential for better returns, although most of these vehicles were best left for at least five years even if they are open-ended. 4/5

Knowledge: The adviser provided some background information on the current savings climate, and particularly the state of poor interest rates and high inflation. To counter these issues, he advised a long-term investment. 4/5

Email/web presence: 3/5

Verdict: Good. The adviser objectively gave advice without attempting to push the shopper into paying for his services. His responses seemed sincere and it was made clear that there were plenty of options available.


Adviser (Independent) Brooks Financial Consultancy, Pioneer House, Pioneer Business Park, North Road, Ellesmere Port CH65 1AD

Speed of Response: Time of call: 11.29am. A receptionist answered after two rings. On hold for about 20 seconds before being put through to an adviser. 3/5

Telephone Manner: Friendly, confident and patient. 5/5

Qualifications: Chartered, which the adviser said was the gold standard of the profession. He was also a member of the Chartered Insurance Institute. 5/5

Payment method: First consultation free of charge and then an initial charge of 4 per cent and 2.5 per cent was applied, depending on the amount invested. If the shopper required regular monitoring, there would be a further charge of between 0.5 and 0.7 per cent. 3/5

Guidance given: The adviser was keen to stress how much the decision depended on personal circumstances. It may be better to keep the money in bank deposits but investments would bring better returns for those who can accept risk. For more volatile investments, the shopper was advised to not touch the money for at least five years, regardless of whether the fund was open-ended and there were no penalties for early withdrawals. 4/5

Knowledge: The adviser clearly described how inflation and interest rates had played out since the 2008 recession. Explaining the various factors behind monetary policy, he mentioned that most bank saving vehicles offered interest rates lower than inflation. 5/5

Email/web presence: 3/5