Mystery Shopper  

Mystery Shopper: Reading

Mystery Shopper: Reading

This week the mystery shopper visits Reading.

The shopper’s mother is due to retire abroad next year. She has a defined benefit pension but is considering transferring to a self-invested personal pension, to more easily access her savings. The shopper is concerned about the risks of transferring and wants to know what other at-retirement options are available.

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: Flying Colours (Independent)

Address: 20 Collis Street, Berkshire, Reading, RG2 0AE

Speed of response: 10:00am. The shopper was connected quickly to an adviser-client liaison. 5/5

Telephone manner: Polite and professional. 5/5

Qualifications: Not a qualified adviser. 3/5

Payment method: The shopper was told there would be no fee for an initial sit-down with the mother, but was not given a range or method of the final cost, which would depend on the decision following the consultation with a qualified adviser. 2/5

Guidance: The mother would have to provide her pension details, such as who the scheme was with and how much she had accrued, and any other assets in her name, in consultation with a qualified adviser. Prior to this, she would be emailed more information pertaining to the company and pensions in general, such as a fact sheet on DB transfers, a glossary of useful pensions terminology and past client testimonials. 4/5

Knowledge: The company's client liaison showed some understanding of the risks often associated with DB transfers, but was not able to give any more details over the phone as he said the client would need to speak with the qualified adviser. 3/5


Email: 5/5

Verdict: The shopper was not connected to an adviser. Nevertheless, the liaison was helpful and keen to give the shopper as much detail as possible, and offered to email additional information. He was somewhat knowledgeable but understandably could not give any more details over the phone, such as a range of the cost involved.

Total score: 27/35


Adviser: Strabens Hall (Independent)

Address: Albert Street, Reading, Reading, RG1 1HE

Speed of response: 10:15am. The shopper was transferred to an adviser straight away. 5/5

Telephone manner: The adviser was polite and professional. 5/5

Qualifications: Dip PFS. 5/5

Payment Method: The adviser said the first meeting, where he will set out his proposal, services and costs once a clearer picture of the mother’s goals had been gained, would be free of charge. The adviser did not give a price range of the final cost or how costs would be calculated. 2/5