Each week the mystery shopper seeks advice from independent 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. The shopper is calling on behalf of her mother who is 57 years old and wants to go part-time so she can look after her elderly mother who has recently fallen ill. The shopper wants to find out what her mother’s options are if she wants to use her DB and DC pension pots to supplement her part-time income.
Adviser: Whateley Wealth Management (independent)
Address: 39 Rowheath Rd, Birmingham B30 2EP
Speed of response: 10.35am. The adviser answered phone after first ring, but did not say his name or company name in his initial greeting. 3/5
Telephone manner: Friendly. 4/5
Key qualifications: DipFA. 5/5
Payment method: The adviser said that he can talk about the fees when he gets the information he needs. 3/5
Guidance: The adviser was not keen to give any kind of guidance over the phone, saying he would prefer to arrange a meeting to give the shopper’s mother a good idea of her options. He said he would need to know the type of pension her mother has and other factors. It was only at the end of the conversation that the adviser offered more information, saying that broadly speaking her mother could take the money as a lump sum or move it to a drawdown facility. 4/5
Knowledge: The shopper was not sure how much the adviser knew, as he was very reluctant to provide her with information. 3/5
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 5/5
Verdict: The shopper felt that the adviser should have greeted her without needing to ask if she was calling Whateley Wealth Management, plus he was initially reluctant to give broad guidance.
Adviser: Petrie and Petrie (independent)
Address: 158 Weoley Castle Rd, Birmingham B29 5QL
Speed of response: 10.45am. One ring and put through to an adviser. 5/5
Telephone manner: Helpful. 4/5
Key qualifications: The adviser gave some information, but did not have the qualifications to advise on the specific enquiry. 4/5
Payment method: £1,500 to do the report and investigation. 3/5
Guidance: The adviser said they didn’t normally give information over the phone, because trying to understand the circumstances around her mother’s defined contribution situation is very complex. The adviser also said her mother needs to ask her company’s pensions team what she would get for early retirement. Once she has that information she should arrange a meeting. 4/5
Knowledge: The adviser had a broad knowledge of the market, but he told the shopper that if she wanted to take things further she would need to speak to his colleague who is a pensions expert. 4/5
Email: email@example.com 5/5
Verdict: The advisers was friendly and helpful, but the caller did not feel he could broadly articulate her mother’s options.