Mystery Shopper: East London

Mystery shopper

Adviser (independent) W B Baxter, 263 Cranbrook Road, Ilford IG1 4TG

SPEED OF RESPONSE: Time of call: 11.24am. After choosing from one of the five options the shopper’s call was immediately answered by a paraplanner. 4/5

TELEPHONE MANNER: The paraplanner was helpful, friendly and easy to talk to. 5/5

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QUALIFICATIONS: He said he was a paraplanner with considerable expertise in auto-enrolment. 3/5

PAYMENT METHOD: He said the firm was still finalising its auto-enrolment package and therefore could not disclose any information on fees. 2/5

GUIDANCE GIVEN: After asking the shopper for his PAYE number, he explained that the business still had plenty of time to prepare and that 18 months was necessary to get everything sorted. Expanding the business, he said, would not affect the staging date at the moment, before adding that trust-based schemes, such as Nest, are simpler because they do not require building a pension scheme from scratch. 4/5

KNOWLEDGE: Very good. The paraplanner clearly had plenty of experience dealing with auto-enrolment queries and provided clear and insightful information on a number of its different aspects. 4/5


VERDICT: Good. The paraplanner put the shopper at ease and clearly summarised the basic procedures to follow.


Adviser (independent) Fairstone Financial Management, 114a Amhurst Road, London E8 2AG

SPEED OF RESPONSE: Time of call: 11.35am. Five rings and then straight through to an adviser. 5/5

TELEPHONE MANNER: Polite but sounded disinterested at times and spoke too quietly. 3/5

RELEVANT QUALIFICATIONS: Level-four diploma in financial planning. 5/5

PAYMENT METHOD: Initial meeting free, after which a fee will be arranged – he was unable to give a rough estimation how much that could be. 3/5

GUIDANCE GIVEN: He first briefly explained the story behind auto-enrolment, before suggesting that a meeting would be best as he was busy at that moment. The adviser assured the shopper not to worry as he still had plenty of time to get everything organised and said the earliest he could meet would be in about three weeks. 3/5

KNOWLEDGE: Hard to tell. After providing some brief background history, the adviser said he had to go and preferred to discuss anything further in person. 2/5


VERDICT: Not very convincing. Though polite, the adviser seemed unprepared for the call and unable to deal effectively with the shopper’s queries.


Adviser (independent) Berns Brett, The Old Court House, 191 High Road, London E18 2QF

SPEED OF RESPONSE: Time of call: 11.46am. Three rings, through to the receptionist and then, after a sizeable wait, put through to an adviser. 3/5

TELEPHONE MANNER: Very professional and friendly. 5/5

RELEVANT QUALIFICATIONS: Chartered financial planner. 5/5

PAYMENT METHOD: Initial meeting free, after which any charge will depend on the number of employees to be auto-enrolled 4/5

GUIDANCE GIVEN: After explaining how auto-enrolment works, and that a business of the shopper’s size has until at least June 2015 to prepare, the adviser explained that setting up a scheme can be complicated, but a lot less so if using an automated system. His firm, he said, offer these software packages, which also solve compliance issues and help when the pension regulator asks for records. 3/5