Mystery Shopper  

Mystery Shopper: Middlesborough

Mystery Shopper: Middlesborough

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 Middlesborough. The shopper lives with her partner, a builder, in a house that is in his name and they have a child. He also has two children from a previous relationship. The shopper wants to find out what she and her husband can do to safeguard each other and their children should something happen to either one of them.


Adviser: Abacus Associates Financial Services (independent)

Address: 46 Adcott Rd, Middlesbrough TS5 7ES

Speed of response: 10.25am. The call was answered by an adviser, but he did not introduce himself or the company. 4/5

Telephone manner: Friendly. 5/5

Relevant qualifications: DipPFS – Personal Finance Society. 5/5

Payment method: Normally around 3 per cent depending on size of investment. 5/5

Guidance: The adviser explained that the shopper’s partner can insure himself through his business as it would be cheaper. The adviser said he needed to look at their circumstances so that he could also ascertain the level of cover needed and complete a review. 4/5

Knowledge: The adviser sounded knowledgeable but the shopper felt he could have spoken in more detail about her options. 3/5


Email: 5/5

Verdict: The adviser behaved in a fairly professional manner but the shopper felt he could have given her more information.



Adviser: The Pension Planner (independent)

Address: Acklam Green Centre, Stainsby Road, Acklam, Middlesbrough TS5 4JS

Speed of response: 10.45am. The call was transferred by a receptionist. 5/5

Telephone manner: Friendly. 5/5

Relevant qualifications: Practice manager – not a qualified financial adviser. 3/5

Payment method: One of the products the adviser offers, such as life cover, is paid by commission. 5/5

Guidance: The practice manager asked the shopper if she and her partner had written a will, so that if something happened to either of them, the will would clarify who would get what. For example without a will, if her partner died, the property would go to his estate. The children would be entitled to the property before her. The practice manager also offered to put the shopper in touch with his colleague, a mortgage broker, who could help the shopper and her husband obtain protection cover. 5/5

Knowledge: Although not a qualified adviser, the practice manager gave the shopper a lot of information on drawing up wills and checking what existing protection cover they have in place. 5/5