Mystery Shopper Oxfordshire

This week the mystery shopper visits Oxfordshire. He is seeking pension advice on behalf of his mother who is considering taking out an annuity but is unsure of whether it is the best option following the pension freedoms. She has been saving £650 per year into a pension scheme for 34 years.

Adviser (Independent): Positive Solutions (Oxford), 88 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6JT

Speed of response: Time of call: 10.34am. Answered after six rings. 5/5

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Telephone manner: Professional and to the point. 5/5

Relevant qualifications: Advance Financial Planning Certificate (CII). 5/5

Payment method:

No charge for initial meeting. The adviser said he normally works on a percentage fee basis, which is determined by the size of the pension pot and the retirement solution. 5/5

Guidance given:

The adviser said it would be appropriate to arrange an initial meeting at the first instance to better gauge the shopper’s mother’s circumstances. He briefly explained the workings of an annuity and how it differs from a flexi-access drawdown. The latter will generate a higher advice charge because the shopper’s mother’s pension pot would remain invested, the adviser added. 4/5


The adviser appeared to have a good grasp on the two retirement solutions, but the shopper felt the adviser withheld information so as not to offer guidance due to his ignorance of the shopper’s mother’s circumstances. 4/5

Email/web presence: 5/5


The conversation with the adviser was brief but the shopper was satisfied with the information delivered. He also appreciated the adviser’s reluctance to offer more tailored guidance with little knowledge of his mother’s situation.


Adviser (Independent): Shaw Gibbs Financial Services Limited, 264 Banbury Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX2 7DY

Speed of response: Time of call: 10.42am. Answered after two rings. 5/5

Telephone manner: Very inquisitive and professional. 5/5

Relevant qualifications: Chartered Financial Planner (CII). 5/5

Payment method:

No charge for the initial meeting. The cost of advice is dependent on the retirement solution. The adviser said the firm operates a number of charging models. He said the shopper could opt for the hourly rate model of £260 plus a £55 administration charge, or agree a fixed fee. 5/5

Guidance given:

The adviser asked whether the shopper’s mother is paying into a workplace pension or a self-invested personal pension, the value of her pension pot and if vshe receives income from other sources. He explained that the answers to these questions were integral to the process of determining the retirement solution best suited to her needs. He offered to arrange an initial meeting to further explore the shopper’s mother circumstances. 5/5


The adviser seemed well versed in the topic. He also briefly explained the difference between annuity and drawdown. 4/5

Email/web presence: 5/5


The adviser was notably inquisitive and delivered helpful guidance in a timely manner.


Adviser (Independent): McGrath Rathbone Limited, 1 The Quadrangle, Banbury Road, Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1LH

Speed of response: Time of call: 10.58am. Answered after three rings. 5/5

Telephone manner: Very friendly, polite and professional. 5/5