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 Dorset. The shopper wants to buy a property with her husband, whom she recently married. She already has a property in her name when she bought a house with her mum nine years ago. The plan is for her mum to continue paying the mortgage with her pension but the shopper is worried about putting undue pressure on her mum. The shopper and her husband have saved £40,000 for the deposit in an Isa.
Adviser: Dorset Financial Planning (independent)
Address: 29 Stourcliffe Avenue, Bournemouth BH6 3PU
Speed of response: 10.11am. One ring and call answered by adviser. 5/5
Telephone manner: Helpful and friendly. 5/5
Relevant qualifications: Diploma in financial planning, CeMap. 5/5
Payment method: Depending on how complicated the work is, the fee will be no more than £200. 5/5
Guidance: The adviser told the shopper if she wants to take her name of the deed of the property this might be a challenge because her mother is unlikely to meet the affordability criteria to continue paying for the mortgage by herself. The adviser suggested that one option might be for her mother to replace the current mortgage with a lifetime mortgage as these do not rely on income. 5/5
Knowledge: The adviser was fairly knowledgeable but at times sounded unsure about certain options available to the shopper. 4/5
Email: email@example.com 4/5
Verdict: The adviser was very helpful and friendly, although she was occasionally a little unsure of one or two things the shopper asked about.
Adviser: Neil Swan Financial Services (independent)
Address: 41 Rufus Gardens, Totton, Southampton, Hants, S040 8TA
Speed of response: 11.01am. Call answered by adviser after one ring. 5/5
Telephone manner: Polite. 4/5
Relevant qualifications: CeMap. 5/5
Payment method: Paid by lenders. 4/5
Guidance: The adviser was very keen to arrange a meeting with the shopper. He said the shopper has a number of different options available to her but wanted to meet face-to-face with her to get more information. The shopper tried to prompt him for more information but he was reluctant to give it over the phone. 2/5
Knowledge: The adviser sounded confident but the shopper was unable to get much information out of him. 2/5
Website: no website
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 2/5
Verdict: The adviser was polite but the shopper would have preferred it if he had given her some information over the phone.
Adviser: Homeline Mortgages (independent)
Address: North House, Braeside Business Park, Sterte Avenue West, Poole, Dorset BH15 2BX
Speed of response: 10.48am. One ring and transferred to adviser. 5/5
Telephone manner: Friendly. 5/5
Relevant qualifications: Cert CII (MP & ER)/DipPFS 5/5
Payment method: Fee of £495 broken down into £295 when agreed and £200 when mortgage completed. 5/5
Guidance: Adviser told the shopper that owing to the first property that is also in her name, she would incur a higher stamp duty for buying the second home with her husband. Additionally, taking her name off the deed would be a challenge as her mother is unlikely to meet the affordability criteria. 5/5