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 constructively show any weaknesses in the advice process.
The shopper wants to buy her first home, and has a £30,000 deposit. She earns £38,000 a year and the desired properties range between £300,000-£350,000. Her brother offered to buy with her, but is concerned about stamp duty as he owns a property, so wants to look at a joint and sole proprietor mortgage.
Adviser: KDW Independent Financial Planning (independent)
Address: 2nd Floor Centurion House, 136-142 London Road, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL1 1PQ
Speed of response: 10.38am. The shopper was put through to the adviser after about 20 seconds. 5/5
Telephone manner: Friendly and helpful. 5/5
Relevant qualifications: CeMap. 5/5
Payment method: The administration fee for processing mortgage is £249 and commission from the lender. 5/5
Guidance: The adviser said as it will be the brother’s second property stamp duty charges will be incurred. When the shopper asked about the joint borrower sole proprietor mortgage option, the adviser said not many lenders offered the product. Also, her brother would still need to meet the affordability criteria. The shopper was advised to consider a shared-ownership or a help-to-buy scheme. It was only when asked for help that the adviser offered to look into the matter. 4/5
Knowledge: The adviser sounded very knowledgeable, but the shopper did not feel he was proactive enough in trying to assist and needed prompting. 4/5
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org 5/5
Verdict: The adviser behaved in a fairly professional way, but the shopper felt he should have offered to make some enquiries on her behalf.
Adviser: Cranbourne Financial (independent)
Address: 18 Walsworth Road, Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG4 9SP
Speed of response: The shopper was put through to adviser after one ring. 5/5
Telephone manner: Helpful and friendly. 5/5
Relevant qualifications: DipFS and Certificate in Mortgage Advice (CII). 5/5
Payment method: The adviser will be paid by the lender. 5/5
Guidance: The adviser asked the shopper about her circumstances. He said her brother could act as a guarantor for her mortgage, but he would still need to pass the affordability test, and to be entered on the title deed. The adviser suggested she look for a smaller property or consider searching in another area. 4/5
Knowledge: The adviser sounded fairly knowledgeable, but he did not give her clear information when she asked him about the joint borrower sole proprietor option. 3/5
Email address: email@example.com 5/5
Verdict: The adviser was professional, but he did not seem to knew a lot of detail about the joint borrower sole proprietor option.
Adviser: Herts and Essex Financial Services (independent)
Address: 2nd Floor, Manor Court, Bancroft, Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 1JW
Speed of response: 11.21am. The shopper was put through to adviser after one ring. 5/5
Telephone manner: Friendly and very helpful. 5/5
Relevant qualifications: Advanced CeMap qualification. 5/5
Payment method: Total fee of £750. On the submission of application, there is a fee of £150 and the remainder is paid when the application has been successful and completed. 4/5