This week, the mystery shopper visits Watford.
The shopper is enquiring on behalf of her mother, aged 69. The mother owns a three-bed house in Watford with no mortgage. The mother wants to generate about £200,000 to give her son money to buy a garage. The mother wants to take a lifetime mortgage or a loan – but is exploring other repayment options – to ensure her current home does not need to be sold off to repay the loan/mortgage.
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: Shabbar Kassam – Lighthouse Financial Advice (independent)
Address: 16 Woodside, Watford, WD24 6QS
Speed of response: At 11:52am the shopper is transferred directly to an adviser after four rings. 5/5
Telephone manner: The adviser is keen to help and friendly. 5/5
Relevant qualifications: Level 4 Dip PFS, CF6. 5/5
Payment method: The adviser said a maximum of £1,500 will be levied from his end. He said the amount is due once the shopper receives a mortgage offer, but he said he cannot specify how much exactly it will cost the mother. 4/5
Guidance: The adviser took a cautious stance and said he would need to meetthe son or the shopper’s mother and assess the full situation. He explained that the lifetime mortgage will depend on her age, which will also determine the exact loan-to-value of the property. He said that the mother could take an interest-only mortgage, or take it with interest rolled up. He said whoever inherits the mother’s estate will have to pay off the LTV in full if they do not want to sell the house. 4/5
Knowledge: The adviser demonstrated a great knowledge about equity release, mortgage products and what the process of a lifetime mortgage will entail. 5/5
Verdict: The adviser gave very useful information and managed to assist the shopper a fair amount despite suggesting that a face-to-face meeting is required first.
Adviser: Evolution Financial Planning (independent)
Address: 7 Canterbury Rd, Watford WD17 1QT
Speed of response: The adviser picked the phone up at 12:26pm after three rings. 5/5
Telephone manner: The adviser appeared a little disinterested in the conversation. 3/5
Relevant qualifications: CeMap. 5/5
Payment method: The adviser said she cannot tell how much she will be charging exactly for the lifetime mortgage as she has not decided yet and will only begin advising on them in the next few weeks. However, she said she charges £400 for residential mortgages, a higher amount for equity release, and she said her fee will be “highest” for lifetime mortgages. 3/5