Mystery Shopper  

Mystery Shopper: Exeter

Mystery Shopper: Exeter

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 Exeter. The shopper is a 48-year-old woman who has a lump sum of £100,000 from the sale of a buy-to-let property and wants to know how she should invest it. She has heard that she can mitigate capital gains tax on the lump sum by investing in a pension and wants to know how much she would have to invest to do that and how she should invest what is left. She has a mortgage of £150,000 on her main home and £35,000 in Isas, where she is about to invest a separate amount of £20,000.


Adviser: Fairstone Financial Management (independent)

Address: 25 Copthall Ave, London EC2R 7BP

Speed of response: Time of call: 11am. Spoke to a team support member who put her through to another colleague. 4/5

Telephone manner: Friendly. 5/5

Relevant qualifications: Not a qualified adviser. 2/5

Payment method: The fees will be explained by the adviser once he/she thoroughly understands the shopper’s circumstances. 2/5

Guidance: After asking questions about her salary, how much she wants to invest, and the value of her main home, he explained the process would be to collect information from the shopper, which would then be passed on to a qualified adviser to call her back. 3/5

Knowledge: The team support member was not able to provide the shopper with the information she needed. He was only able to provide information on the company and its processes. 2/5


Email: 5/5

Verdict: Although the team support member was friendly and tried to be helpful, the shopper was unable to get the information she needed from him.



Adviser: Gilbert Stephens Financial Services (independent)

Address: 15-17 Southernhay East, Exeter, Devon EX1 1QE

Speed of response: Time of call: 11.15am. One ring and transferred to adviser. 5/5

Telephone manner: Friendly. 5/5

Relevant qualifications: Diploma in financial planning / DipPFS. 5/5

Payment method: Hourly fee of £180 per hour. 5/5

Guidance: Adviser was very keen to meet face-to-face with the shopper to obtain more information and provide more details on costs and fees. When prompted, he explained that if she wanted to invest in the mid to long term there were alternatives and other ways to mitigate capital gains tax. 4/5

Knowledge: The adviser sounded knowledgeable but the shopper would have liked it if he had given her more information on her options. 4/5


Email: 5/5

Verdict: Shopper’s choice: The adviser spoke in a professional manner to the shopper and sounded confident, but he was reluctant to give information over the phone.