Mystery Shopper: Torquay

Mystery shopper

After losing his job during the recession, the shopper switched his mortgage to an interest-only one, but now – with 17 years left to pay off the outstanding loan of £100,000 – wanted to explore the best option for repayment.

Adviser: Protocol Capital Management, 4 Newton Road, Torquay, Devon TQ2 5BU

Speed of response: Time of call: 11.38am. Five rings, spoke to receptionist and then passed on to an adviser. 5/5

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Telephone manner: The adviser was very friendly and helpful. 5/5

Relevant qualifications: QCF level four. 5/5

Payment method: No fees for initial conversation and then charges will be applied, depending on the type of service required. 5/5

Guidance given: The adviser said to start by checking out the mortgage details to establish whether it would be best to opt for capital repayments or set up a separate savings account. Despite being an investment specialist and referring the shopper to a mortgage specialist colleague of his, the adviser said a lot would depend on the interest rates but that, in general, it is often best to make repayments on the mortgage rather than investing. 3/5

Knowledge: The adviser was hesitant not to say too much as he was not a mortgage specialist but, nevertheless, appeared to be familiar with the situation and capable of finding suitable saving solutions. 3/5

E-mail/web presence: 5/5

Verdict: Even though the adviser was unable to go into specific details about mortgages, he referred the shopper to his colleague and was helpful in producing a basic plan of the main questions that needed addressing.


Adviser: TNW Financial Services, 8 Henley’s Business Park, Manor Road, Abbotskerswell, Newton Abbott TQ12 5NF

Speed of response: Time of call: 11.48pm. Three rings and then, after a series of hostile questions by a receptionist, put through to an adviser. 3/5

Telephone manner: The receptionist was rude but the adviser friendly and engaging. 3/5

Relevant qualifications: QCF level four. 5/5

Payment method: Happy to do some basic research for free, but any transaction made will then be charged £300. 5/5

Guidance given: The adviser began by explaining that endowment policies were a thing of the past and that better, more competitive products have now entered the market. The two main options he presented was to either set up a regular investment Isa savings account, depending on attitude to risk, or to change repayment options on the mortgage. He explained that it was possible to change providers and to negotiate new mortgage terms. 4/5

Knowledge: The adviser knew a lot about the mortgage market, but was slightly more vague on investment and saving options. 3/5

E-mail/web presence: 5/5

Verdict: Despite the initial difficulty of getting through to an adviser, the rest of the conversation went well. The adviser was helpful, spoke in clear terms and presented plenty of options.


Adviser: Abigail Stidworthy and Vanessa Taylor, Strategic Solutions, First Floor, 19 Devon Square, Newton Abbot TQ12 2HR

Speed of response: Time of call: 11.55pm. Answered after five rings by an adviser. 5/5