Mystery Shopper 

Mystery Shopper: Berkshire

Mystery Shopper: Berkshire

This week, the mystery shopper visits Berkshire.

The shopper has inherited a large sum of money - £500,000 - from her grandfather and she is looking for help on the best way to invest the money, as she has a mortgage with her husband, while they have two young children.

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.


Adviser: Fairstone Financial Management (independent)

Address: Swan House, 2 Market Street, Maidenhead SL6 8AB

Speed of response: 11.13. The phone call was answered by a trainee adviser. 5/5

Telephone manner: Friendly. 5/5

Relevant qualifications: The shopper spoke to a trainee, who was not a qualified financial adviser. 3/5

Payment method: Trainee adviser told shopper fee would depend on what she wanted to do. 2/5

Guidance: The trainee adviser told the shopper the process would be to ask her questions about what she wants to achieve and then get the best adviser to speak to her. He asked her about the mortgage property value, age of children, if she had any debts or life insurance. He went on to offer her a face-to-face or telephone consultation. 3/5

Knowledge: The trainee adviser was friendly, but he could not give her much guidance and she felt he was a bit vague on the type of topics she would be discussing with the adviser. 2/5


Email: 5/5

Verdict: The trainee adviser behaved in a fairly professional manner but the shopper felt he could have given her more information or guidance on options available to her.



Adviser: Douglas Hope Financial Management (independent)

Address: 43 Northbrook St, Newbury RG14 1DT

Speed of response: 11.33am. The shopper was transferred to the adviser by the receptionist. 5/5

Telephone manner: Friendly. 5/5

Relevant qualifications: DipPFS. 5/5

Payment method: The fee structure will depend on what the shopper wants but there is a minimum fee of £1500 to cover recommendations and administration. 4/5

Guidance: The adviser was keen to arrange a meeting with the shopper to discuss long and short term goals and was reluctant to provide information over the telephone. 2/5

Knowledge: The shopper felt the adviser could have given her some basic guidance over the telephone on what options she should be considering. 2/5


Email: 5/5

Verdict: The adviser was polite and friendly but was reluctant to give the shopper much information over the phone, rather, preferring to arrange a meeting instead.