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 East Sussex. The shopper is a 36-year-old IT developer who has inherited £70,000, and is looking at how she can invest the money in short-term and long-term investment vehicles.
Adviser: Sandycross Wealth Management (independent)
Address: Monkhurst House, Sandy Cross Lane, Heathfield, East Sussex TN21 8QR
Speed: 1.52pm. The shopper was put through to the adviser after one ring. 5/5
Telephone manner: Very friendly and helpful. 5/5
Relevant qualifications: CII in Financial Planning Practice and a DipPFS from the Personal Finance Society. 5/5
Payment method: The initial consultation is free. Following the implementation of investment, there is a £825 fee. There is also a separate charge for ongoing management of the investment. 5/5
Guidance: The adviser told the shopper she would like to arrange a face-to-face meeting to assess the shopper’s portfolio and level of cash savings. If the shopper wanted to invest the bulk of her money for the long term, she could put the remaining smaller amount into an instant Isa or premium bond. The larger amount of the money could then be placed in a long-term investment vehicle. To assess the best investment vehicles, the adviser told shopper it would be best to arrange a fact-finding meeting. 4/5
Knowledge: The shopper felt the adviser was very knowledgeable as she was able to give her detailed information. 4/5
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 5/5
Verdict: The shopper was impressed with adviser’s knowledge, and felt very much at ease with them.
Adviser: Prosperity IFA (independent)
Address: Tubwell Farm, Tubwell Lane, Crowborough TN6 3RQ
Speed: 2.10pm. There were two rings before the shopper was put through to an adviser. 5/5
Telephone manner: Polite and helpful. 4/5
Relevant qualifications: DipPFS – Diploma in Financial Services. 5/5
Payment method: The initial meeting is free, and the fee is dependent on the level of investment. For example, on a £70,000 investment, the fee would be 3 per cent of funds invested. 5/5
Guidance: The adviser told the shopper he wanted to undertake a fact-finding exercise to collect information on the shopper’s risk profile, attitude to risk and expected timescale on getting a return on her investment. The shopper was told she had many options; ranging from tax-efficient Isas to putting the money in stocks. Depending on her choice, each year the monies could then be moved around to get the best returns. 5/5
Knowledge: The adviser appeared to know quite a lot about the various options the shopper could pick from. He also spoke in what the shopper felt was a very professional manner. 5/5
Email: email@example.com 5/5
Verdict: Shopper’s choice: The adviser came across very knowledgeable and acted in a professional and polite manner. He initially wanted the shopper to come in, but when she indicated that she wanted to get a broad idea of her options he was then able to give her some broad options.
Adviser: Flying Colours (independent)
Address: Preston Road, East Sussex, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 6AF