Mystery Shopper  

Mystery Shopper: Isas in Suffolk

Mystery Shopper: Isas in Suffolk

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 Suffolk. The shopper has £18,000 in a cash Isa and wants to put it into a stocks and shares Isa account to buy a flat in the next five to seven years. She is 27 years old, single and has no debts.

Adviser: Williams Farrall Woodward (independent)

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Address: Priority House, 8 Turret Lane, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 1DL

Speed of response (time of call): 10.40am. One ring then put through to an adviser. 5/5

Telephone manner: Friendly and professional. 5/5

Relevant qualifications: Associate of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investments. 5/5

Payment method: Specific charges will depend on what the shopper wants to achieve. 2/5

Guidance: The adviser said stocks and shares can be volatile and any investment in that sector should be done for the long term. He suggested meeting to ascertain her attitude to risk and the most relevant option. He made her aware that stocks and shares might not be the best option because the resulting fee could be disproportionate to the amount of money she wanted to invest. 4/5

Knowledge: The shopper felt the adviser could have gone into more detail about the various options available to her and explored her financial situation in greater depth. 4/5

Email 5/5

Verdict: The adviser explained the potential risks of a stocks and shares Isa, but the shopper did not feel he provided enough detail.

Score: 30/35


Adviser: Woodward Markwell Insurance Brokers (independent)

Address: Friars House, 2 Falcon Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 1SL

Speed of response (time of call): 10.46am. One ring then transferred to an adviser. 5/5

Telephone manner: Friendly and professional. 5/5

Relevant qualifications: DipFs. 5/5

Payment method: An £18,000 investment in stocks and shares will attract a fee of about 3 per cent, or £250, depending on the package. 4/5

Guidance: The adviser said when she looks at investing in stocks and shares on behalf of clients, her strategy is to invest for the long term to manage risk better. Because the shopper wants to put the money towards a mortgage, she would suggest a less risky strategy, such as a lifetime Isa or help-to-buy Isa. With the lifetime Isa there is more flexibility around how much she can put into the fund. 5/5

Knowledge: The adviser sounded very knowledgeable and also gave the shopper other investment options that might be more relevant to her. 5/5

Email 5/5

Verdict: Shopper’s choice. The adviser spoke to the shopper in a lot of detail and offered a wide range of options that did not necessarily involve a stocks and shares Isa. The adviser inspired confidence in the shopper. 

Score: 34/35


Adviser: Family Finance Centre (independent)

Address: The Old Bakery, 4-6 London Road, Wrentham, Beccles, Suffolk, NR34 7HE