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 Canterbury. The shopper is on maternity leave and is considering returning to work on a part-time basis but wants to find out more about her options if her plan is to reduce her mortgage payments. Her current salary is £38,500.
Adviser: Vanessa Harrison Mortgage and Financial Planning (independent)
Address: Glencott, Dover Road, Walmer, Kent, Deal CT14 7NB
Telephone manner: Friendly and helpful. 5/5
Speed of response: 10.54am. Picked up after one ring. 5/5
Relevant qualifications: A client manager, not yet fully qualified mortgage adviser. 3/5
Payment method: The fee for lodging a mortgage application is £195. If successful, the mortgage application fee is £100. 5/5
Guidance: The best way to reduce ones mortgage payments is to extend the term of the mortgage or to find a different lender. The shopper has about £150,000 left on her mortgage and the adviser estimated she would need to be earning more than £30,000 on a part-time wage to meet the typical lender’s criteria of 4.5 times salary. 5/5
Knowledge: The client manager, although not yet a fully qualified mortgage adviser, sounded very knowledgeable about the market and the shopper’s options. He said that after taking all the shopper’s information he would pass it onto the mortgage adviser who would then be able to give the advice. 4/5
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 5/5
Verdict: The client manager behaved in a professional manner and was able to give the shopper information she needed.
Adviser: Prospect Tree Mortgages. (independent)
Address: Building 940, 32, Heeley Close, Sittingbourne, Kent ME9 8HL
Speed of response: 11.03am. One ring and transferred to an adviser. 5/5
Telephone manner: Helpful and professional. 5/5
Relevant qualifications: Qualified mortgage adviser. 5/5
Payment method: A fee of £295 is payable on completion of mortgage application and commission from the lender. 5/5
Guidance: Adviser told the shopper that successful remortgaging come down to whether she matches the affordability criteria. When the shopper asked the adviser what her other options were he said she could do a product transfer, but added she would also need to pay the early repayment fee to her current lender Halifax if she plans on moving her mortgage. 5/5
Knowledge: The adviser sounded knowledgeable about the market, but did not offer the shopper an overview of her options until she specifically asked for more information. 4/5
Email: email@example.com 5/5
Verdict: Shopper's Choice The adviser behaved professionally and provided the shopper with all the information she requested.
Adviser: Graham Thomas Financial Management (restricted)
Address: 13 Eastcourt Lane, Gillingham, Kent ME8 6EU
Speed of response: 11.15am. One ring and transferred to an adviser. 5/5
Telephone manner: Friendly but sounded distracted on the phone. 4/5
Relevant qualifications: CeMap. 5/5
Payment method: A fee of £275 on completion of the mortgage application and commission fee from lender. 5/5