Mystery Shopper: South Woodford

Qualifications: Seemed confused by the question and immediately said he had to go and would call back later. 1/5

Payment method: Free meeting to discuss everything and then charges would be discussed based on the outcome 4/5

Guidance given: The adviser asked about financial circumstances, which he said were fundamental as independent advice required looking at the entire market. He stressed that pensions were a long-term commitment and it was important to carefully consider how much could be realistically contributed each month, without causing too much financial strain. He explained that pensions were flexible and contributions could be modified regularly, before explaining the nature of auto-enrolment and how all employers will have to get involved by 2017. 4/5

Knowledge: Competent. The adviser seemed to know a lot about auto-enrolment and was able to explain the changing nature of pensions very clearly. 4/5

Email/web presence: 5/5

Verdict: Overall fairly good. The adviser explained the best route of action and advised the shopper to think clearly about his options before committing. The shopper was, however, alarmed by the adviser’s awkwardness when asked about qualifications.


Provider: Legal & General, call centre

Speed of Response: Time of call: 4.28pm. Automated menu and then answered after two rings. 4/5

Telephone Manner: Very friendly and sincere. 5/5

Relevant qualifications: The adviser said he was not qualified to give financial advice. 0/5

Payment method: Free to set up, although management fees would apply to funds. 3/5

Guidance given: The shopper was presented with two options: apply by post or online. The online option involved a discounted management charge provided the shopper set up a direct debit. The call centre operative said there were basic guidelines online that explained how the different funds worked, which were mostly L&G funds except for “a few externals”.4/5

Knowledge: Very limited. When the adviser asked what a stakeholder pension was, which is the only type of scheme the provider offered, the representative was unable to answer. Every slightly technical question was directed to the online guide.1/5

Email/web presence: 3/5

Verdict: The representative was very friendly but unable to help much. He pointed out that the majority of pensions were managed online and that there were easy-to-understand guidelines on funds, but could not give any further information.