Investments  

Birmingham isn’t in ethics

Each week the mystery shopper seeks advice from independent and tied advisers in the UK. The aim is to find out whether advisers are delivering the goods when it comes to the all-important initial telephone contact between client and adviser. It is only intended to evaluate this first interview, and it is understood that further meetings would be necessary before final decisions could be made. The purpose is not to expose poor selling practices, but to show constructively any weaknesses in the advice process.

This week, the mystery shopper visits Birmingham. He has recently inherited £25,000 and is looking to invest the sum over the long term. As a practising Christian, the shopper is actively seeking to avoid funds that invest in ethically ambiguous enterprises.

Adviser (Independent):

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Chase De Vere Independent Financial Advisers

1 Cornwall Street, West Midlands, B3 2DX

Speed of response: Time of call: 2.24pm. The call was answered by an automated system. The shopper was transferred to a representative within 20 seconds. 5/5

Telephone manner:

Professional. 5/5

Relevant qualifications:

The representative said she was a receptionist, so was not qualified to give advice. 0/5

Payment method:

Varies – on a case-by-case basis. 4/5

Guidance given:

No guidance was given. The representative explained that it was company policy for her to take down basic details – date of birth, home address and contact number – of every potential client to forward on to an adviser who may or may not be able to assist. 2/5

Knowledge:

The receptionist did not display any knowledge of the topic – which is understandable given her role. 0/5

Email/web presence:

No email given.

www.chasedevere.co.uk 3/5

Verdict:

The shopper was not a fan of the company’s policy to take down details of potential clients to be forwarded on to an adviser. He would have liked to speak with an adviser from the get-go.

19/35

Adviser (Independent):

Grape Benefits Ltd

Unit E, Ludgate Court, 57 Water Street, Birmingham, B3 1EP

Speed of response: Time of call: 2.32pm. Answered after two rings. 5/5

Telephone manner:

Curt, yet professional. 4/5

Relevant qualifications:

Level four diploma. 5/5

Payment method:

3 per cent on first £100,000. 5/5

Guidance given:

The adviser said there are not a lot of ethical funds available in the marketplace. He said he would not be able to service the shopper because his fees would be too high to justify for the amount the shopper was looking to invest. He explained that the company had a minimum threshold when it comes to investments because of the cost of the overall advice process. 3/5

Knowledge:

Difficult to gauge from the guidance given, but the shopper felt that the adviser held back knowledge of the matter. 3/5

Email/web presence:

No email given.

www.grapebenefits.co.uk 3/5

Verdict:

The adviser was notably terse upon hearing the amount the shopper was looking to invest, but he should be recognised for his transparency in relation to fees.

28/35

Adviser (Independent):

Intelligent Wealth Management Partnership Ltd

One Victoria Square, Birmingham, B1 1BD

Speed of response: Time of call: 2.40pm. Answered after five rings. 5/5

Telephone manner:

Polite and friendly. 5/5

Relevant qualifications:

Chartered financial planner. 5/5

Payment method:

Varies – on a case-by-case basis. 3/5

Guidance given:

The adviser explained that ethical investments have become more popular and there has been a proliferation of these products recently. She said she would not be able to assist the shopper because of the firm’s minimum investment requirement of £100,000. The adviser asked him to contact another advice firm.