This week, the mystery shopper visits Leeds.
The shopper would like to send her son to Singapore for his studies in 10 years’ time. She is looking to save at least £45,000 and is exploring whether she should invest in equities, diversified portfolios of equities and bonds, or have a portfolio of passive investments. She is willing to invest £3,000 up front and about £200 a month thereafter.
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: 1825 (restricted whole of market)
Address: West Park Ring Road, Leeds, LS16 6QE
Speed of response: At 11:04am the shopper was transferred after three rings to the switchboard, then answered a question, waited a bit more and was connected back to the switchboard. Then after a few more rings she was finally connected to an adviser. 2/5
Telephone manner: The adviser was moderately friendly. 3/5
Relevant qualifications: Level 4 Dip PFS. 5/5
Payment method: The charge would be tailored to the percentage of assets. 3/5
Guidance: The adviser said he did not want to give any recommendations over the phone and said a face-to-face meeting was best. He asked the shopper for details of her pension, and whether she had any investable assets already. He said the shopper's risk profile would need to be assessed. 3/5
Knowledge: The adviser displayed a good level of knowledge. 3/5
Email: email@example.com. 5/5
Verdict: The adviser was helpful but cautious to give any advice over the phone as expected.
Adviser: Quantum Wealth Management (independent)
Address: Harrogate Business Centre, Hammerain House, Hookstone Avenue, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG2 8ER
Speed of response: After four rings, the shopper was transferred to an adviser at 11.29am. 4/5
Telephone manner: The adviser appeared a bit disinterested at first, but his tone became more friendly as the call progressed. 3/5
Relevant qualifications: Level 6 Chartered Financial Planner. 5/5
Payment method: The adviser said he would send the shopper the fees by email, but the shopper would have preferred to hear some basic figure over the phone. 2/5
Guidance: The adviser asked the shopper whether she had used up her Isa allowance for the year. He said while the shopper would have to first complete a client questionnaire so he could understand her attitude to risk, passive portfolios were a good option.
He also said Isas were the most tax-efficient way of savings, which could be the way forward once he meets the shopper in person. 4/5