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 Cheltenham. The shopper is 25 years old has inherited £50,000 and doesn’t know what to do with the money. She is sure that she does not just want to leave it all in the bank, so her father recommended she speak with a financial adviser.
Adviser: Ashlea Financial Planning (independent)
Address: 81 Hatherley Road, Cheltenham GL50 6EG
Speed of response: 12.20pm. One ring and put through to adviser. 5/5
Telephone manner: Helpful. 4/5
Key qualifications: Dip FS. 5/5
Payment method: The adviser said he would be able to provide more details on the fees at a subsequent meeting. 3/5
Guidance: The adviser said a face-to-face meeting would be needed to find out more, and assess her circumstances and work out how she wants to use the money. He said that without knowing what was best for her it would be difficult to provide a cost for the advice. 3/5
Knowledge: The adviser sounded confident but was reluctant to give the shopper much information on her options over the phone. 3/5
Website: www.ashlea-fp.co.uk 5/5
Verdict: The shopper would have liked to have been given a bit more information over the phone about her options and charges.
Adviser: Aspire Financial Planning (independent)
Address: Festival House, Jessop Avenue, Cheltenham GL50 3SH
Speed of response: 12.25pm. One ring and put through to adviser. 5/5
Telephone manner: Friendly and helpful. 5/5
Key qualifications: CF30. 4/5
Payment method: There is typically a flat fee of £500 for the advice and an ongoing fee of a quarter of a per cent, while the funds will also have charges. 5/5
Guidance: The adviser said that to make the best recommendations he would need to meet face to face to ascertain what the shopper wants to do with the money; whether it is to pay debt or invest in an Isa, for example. 4/5
Knowledge: The adviser sounded knowledgeable but the shopper would have liked more specific information about the different types of investments she could make. 4/5
Website: www.aspirefp.co.uk 5/5
Verdict: The adviser sounded knowledgeable about the market but only provided more information about the fees when prompted further by the shopper.
Adviser: Raymond James Investment Services (independent)
Address: 6 Bath Mews, Bath Parade, Cheltenham GL53 7HL
Speed of response: 12.35pm. One ring and put through to adviser. 5/5
Telephone manner: Helpful and friendly. 5/5
Key qualifications: Fellow of Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments and Dip FS. 5/5
Payment method: Typical fee for long-term investing would be 1 per cent (plus VAT) for setting up the account and advice, and an ongoing management fee of 1 per cent (plus VAT) annually. 5/5
Guidance: The adviser said any recommendation he makes would need to relate to the bigger picture about the shopper's life; whether she has other liabilities and what she wants to do with the money. Range of options include Isas, and even an Isa for home buying. He also suggested she increase her auto-enrolment payments at work to provide her with more money at retirement. 5/5