Mortgages  

Mystery shopper: north-west London

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 shopper visits north-west London. He wants to purchase a flat to the value of £180,000, but only has a 5 per cent deposit with minimal savings. He is seeking guidance on the suitability of shared equity and shared ownership schemes. The shopper is 28 and earns £35,000 a year.

Adviser (Independent):

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KDW Independent Financial Planning

High Street, Ruislip, HA4 8LJ

Speed of response: Time of call: 4.31pm. The call was answered after two rings. 5/5

Telephone manner:

Courteous. 5/5

Relevant qualifications:

Level four diploma. 5/5

Payment method:

£249. 5/5

Guidance given:

The adviser said he preferred the Help-to-Buy scheme over shared ownership because of the rent element of the latter. He revealed that although he is qualified to advise on mortgages, his colleague was responsible for the firm’s London branch’s mortgages business and offered to put the shopper in touch. 3/5

Knowledge:

Good. The adviser notably explained that Help-to-Buy loans are interest-free for the first five years. 4/5

Email/web presence:

paras@kdw.co.uk

www.kdw.co.uk 5/5

Verdict:

The adviser’s approach to the conversation was commendable, but he only provided a skeletal outline of the advantages and disadvantages of both house purchase schemes. However, the shopper appreciates that the adviser did not actively offer advice on mortgages.

32/35

Adviser (Restricted):

Merchant Financial Services (Uk) Ltd

2nd Floor, Monument House, 215 Marsh Road, Pinner, HA5 5NE

Speed of response: Time of call: 4.39pm. The call was answered within 15 seconds. 5/5

Telephone manner:

Very polite and helpful. 5/5

Relevant qualifications:

Level four diploma. 5/5

Payment method:

£500. 5/5

Guidance given:

The adviser kicked off the conversation by asking the shopper if he had any outstanding loans, explaining that debt is a key consideration when it comes to affordability assessment. She concluded that the shopper was on the cusp of being able to secure a conventional mortgage at 95 per cent loan-to-value (LTV), and recommended that he saved for a few more months to be able to cover the fees associated with home purchases. 5/5

Knowledge:

The adviser gave an in-depth outline of both home purchase schemes. 4/5

Email/web presence:

marz@merchantfs.com

www.merchantfs.com 5/5

Verdict:

Fantastic. The adviser was patient in her responses and even utilised an online mortgage tool to find deals based on the basic information she was given.

34/35

Adviser (Independent):

Crystal Financial Solutions

Congress House, Lyon Road, Harrow, HA1 2EJ

Speed of response: Time of call: 4.53pm. The call was answered after three rings. 5/5

Telephone manner:

Professional, but curt in the latter stages of the conversation. 3/5

Relevant qualifications:

Level four diploma. 5/5

Payment method:

£250. 5/5

Guidance given:

The adviser explained that some lenders offer deals at 95 per cent LTV, but the shopper was not in a position to apply because he did not have enough funds to cover the costs associated with a house purchase. He added that the shopper would not be able to access the Help-to-Buy scheme for the same reason. The adviser required more information on the shopper’s circumstances to assess the suitability of shared ownership. 4/5