Mystery Shopper  

Mystery Shopper: Merton

Guidance: The adviser completed a “know-your-client” assessment over the phone with the shopper. He asked questions relating to her marriage status, salary, assets and death-in-service payments. He went into exceptional detail about the nil rate band and calculated the estate value to be £800,000 – assuming the shopper gets a death-in-service settlement for her husband’s death of £320,000 and other assets the shopper has. He said the NRB means both husband and wife are allowed £325,000 tax-free, and a residential NRB of £125,000 bringing the total NRB to £775,000. He said “practically no IHT will be levied," only on the difference between the two figures, in this case £25,000. 5/5

Knowledge: The adviser was extremely knowledgeable and demonstrated a sound understanding of various calculations and conditions under which IHT rules apply. 5/5

Website: 5/5

Email: The adviser said this was his corporate email, as he belongs to a network of independent financial advisers. 5/5

Verdict: This adviser was extremely helpful, polite and considerate to the shopper’s difficult circumstances and took an exceptional effort to have a long conversation and provide the shopper with additional information (shopper’s choice). 



Adviser: HSC Financial Advisers (independent)

Address: 94-96 Merton High St, London SW19 1BD

Speed of response: 10:50am. The shopper is connected after two rings to a receptionist and after three things to a financial adviser. 4/5

Telephone manner: The adviser seemed less engaged compared to the other advisers. 2/5

Relevant qualifications: Level 4 Dip PFS. 5/5

Payment method: The adviser said the company will charge £150 for the initial consultation. After that a fee within the range of 1-3 per cent will be charged, but this depends on the exact nature of the work. The adviser was vague on the investment thresholds to which the percentages apply. 4/5

Guidance: The adviser said he does not discuss probate fees, and said the shopper will need to get legal assistance before the company can advise the shopper. 2/5

Knowledge: The adviser said he did not have a high level of knowledge about probate, but had more knowledge related to using IHT as a wealth planning tool. 2/5


Email: The shopper was told that this is the email address advisers use, but the shopper would have still wanted the individual email address of the adviser. 3/5

Verdict: The shopper wanted more information on, say, the NRB and IHT especially as the cost of the first consultation will be borne by the shopper.  



Adviser: Zest Financial Consultants (independent)

Address: 608 Kingston Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8DN

Speed of response: 10.23am. The shopper is transferred to an adviser. 4/5

Telephone manner: The adviser was polite but not overly friendly compared to others. 4/5