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 Norwich. The shopper wants to raise money to start a business and as a result wants to remortgage her property or go through a lending platform. There is about £80,000 equity in the property she shares with her husband.
Adviser (independent): K2 Financial Services
Address: 83 Grove Road, Norwich, NR1 3RT
Speed of response (time of call): 11.55am. One ring and put through to adviser. 5/5
Telephone manner: Helpful and polite. 5/5
Relevant qualifications: Dip PFS (Personal Finance Society Diploma). 5/5
Payment method: Commission, but dependant on package. 4/5
Guidance: The shopper was told lenders are less likely to look favourably at her situation because she is not earning. Even though the shopper’s husband is earning about £45,000, at a mortgage of 4.5 times his salary, the amount might not be enough for the remortgage needed. He also advised her that a second charge could mean higher rates to pay. The adviser referred the shopper to The Funding Circle as a possible avenue to get a loan. 4/5
Knowledge: The adviser was knowledgeable about the shopper’s potential options and was very realistic with her about her prospects. 5/5
Verdict: Shopper’s choice. The shopper felt the adviser was very helpful and knowledgeable and appreciated the fact that he referred her on to another company, The Funding Circle, to see if she had a better chance at getting a loan.
Adviser (independent): Jones Financial Planning
Address: 9 Bank Plain, Norwich, NR2 4SF
Speed of response (time of call): 12.15pm. One ring and put through to employee who gave the shopper the telephone number for the adviser. 4/5
Telephone manner: Helpful and friendly. 5/5
Relevant qualifications: CeMap (Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Planning). 5/5
Payment method: Commission and a possible valuation fee. 4/5
Guidance: The shopper was told that lenders typically reject remortgage applications where money is being raised to inject into a business, as legislation has become tougher. But the shopper was advised another option could be a second charge mortgage or a further advance with the existing lender. With a second charge, the level of requirements might not be as strict as a first charge or normal mortgage. 4/5
Knowledge: The shopper felt that the adviser had a fairly detailed knowledge of the market. 4/5
Verdict: Although the adviser was knowledgeable, the shopper was not sure if he showed her all the options she could have gone for, such as a start-up loan or a lending platform.
Adviser (independent): Harrold Financial Planning
Address: 8 The Fairland, Hingham, Norwich, NR9 4HN
Speed of response (time of call): 12.30pm. One ring and put through to adviser. 5/5
Telephone manner: Friendly and helpful. 5/5