This week, the mystery shopper visits Bristol.
The shopper has received £50,000 as a graduation gift from her uncle. The shopper is risk-averse and wants to invest it in safe haven assets such as gold. The shopper is not sure how much physical gold to buy, whether to invest in gold futures or whether to invest in other safe haven assets instead.
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: Trigon Pensions (independent)
Address: Trigon House, The Promenade, Clifton Down, Bristol, BS8 3NG
Speed of response: At 11:33am the shopper was first connected to the switchboard after one ring, then had to wait around 45 seconds and then, after another ring, was transferred to an adviser. 5/5
Telephone manner: The adviser was friendly and polite. 5/5
Relevant qualifications: Level 4 Dip PFS. 5/5
Payment method: The adviser said the fees would depend on the exact situation. On investments of around £200,000 a flat fee would be charged and an ongoing management fee of £1,500 would apply. The adviser said those fees do not make sense for an investment as low as £50,000, so the prices would need to be reviewed. 4/5
Guidance: The adviser said Trigon Pensions was more about financial planning and objectives than an investment into a single asset class. He said the adviser would be better off approaching a company like Hargreaves Lansdown, but the shopper would have liked a bit more information. 4/5
Knowledge: The adviser appeared to have a good understanding of investing and fees and this is why he suggested the shopper go elsewhere. 3/5
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. 5/5
Verdict: While the shopper would have appreciated a bit more general information on gold or other safe haven assets, the shopper was pleased with the adviser's transparency and suggestion to seek a more suitable and cheaper option.
Adviser: Ovation Finance (independent)
Address: 18-21 Queen Square House, Queen Square, Bristol, BS1 4NH
Speed of response: At 11:18am the shopper was transferred after two rings to a receptionist and, after a short wait, directly to an adviser. 5/5
Telephone manner: The adviser is chirpy and patient. 5/5
Relevant qualifications: Level 6 chartered financial planner. 5/5
Payment method: The adviser said the initial meeting would be free of charge and that a fixed fee would be levied for setting something up. Thereafter, a 1 per cent ongoing management fee would apply. The adviser did not specify how much the fixed fee will be, but nonetheless gave good information about the pricing. 4/5