This week the mystery shopper visits Richmond.
The shopper is deciding whether to take out income protection or critical illness cover. The shopper is 35 years old, a single parent earning £50,000 a year, and has a mortgage worth £400,000. The shopper has no other debt.
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: Thompson Cavendish Ltd (Independent)
Address: 3 Maze Road, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3DA
Speed of response: 11:00am. An adviser answered and picked up straight away. 5/5
Telephone manner: The adviser spoke quickly, clearly caught at a bad time, but continued to stay on the phone to speak to the shopper about the inquiry. 3/5
Qualifications: Director with DipPFS. 5/5
Payment method: The adviser said there would be no fees for the initial consultation, but did not suggest a range for further consultation, saying the cost would be a commission from the insurance, but did not explain further. 3/5
Guidance: The adviser described the main difference between the two policies, but said clients would need to describe the specific circumstances in more detail in a free face-to-face consultation. The adviser then suggested to make an appointment. 3/5
Knowledgeable: The adviser showed some knowledge of the suitable cover for this scenario, specifically the difference between income protection and critical illness cover, but was reluctant to give any more details over the phone. 2/5
Email: email@example.com 5/5
Verdict: The adviser was clearly in a hurry and away from the office but still took the call and was willing to help the shopper. He was unwilling to give any more details over the phone, suggesting a face-face-meeting would be necessary.
Total score: 26/35
Adviser: Stadden Forbes Wealth Management Ltd (Independent)
Address: 20 Windrush Close, Bolton Road, Chiswick, W4 3TQ
Speed of response: 10:00am. The shopper was transferred to an adviser straight away. 5/5
Telephone manner: The adviser was polite and professional. 5/5
Qualifications: Level 4 Dip PFS. 5/5
Payment Method: The adviser said there would be no fee for the initial 45 min face-to-face consultation, after which any cost would be a commission from the policy bought with the insurance company, or the option of an hourly based rate – whichever the client preferred, but did not specify a range. 4/5
Guidance: The adviser said the type of policy would depend on the shopper’s individual circumstances and budget. He said different types of cover were also available but that income protection was a good start, and possibly the most suitable if the shopper was mostly worried about the ability to pay bills. 5/5