Mystery Shopper  

Mystery Shopper: Cardiff

Mystery Shopper: Cardiff

This week the mystery shopper visits Cardiff.

The shopper is inquiring whether a gift of £10,000 from her 80-year-old grandmother – who has an estate worth around £1m – to help fund her wedding in December would be free of inheritance tax. In January, the shopper also received £3,000 for her birthday, as did two other grandchildren.

The shopper wants to know if there is a separate annual exemption for birthday and wedding gifts, and what other gifting options are available.

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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: Sanctuary Financial Planning (Independent)

Address: Unit 15/16 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff, CF24 5PJ

Speed of response: 10:00am. Transferred quickly to an adviser. 5/5

Telephone manner: Polite and professional. 5/5

Qualifications: Dip FA, Society of Later Life Advisers Retirement Advice Standard and Later Life Adviser Accreditation. 5/5

Payment method: The adviser explained there is no cost for an initial sit-down. A fee would be charged upon further advice, depending on the grandmother’s individual circumstances, including intent, health and estate details. He was reluctant to give a range without further information, or on what basis rates are charged. 3/5

Guidance: The adviser estimated the annual gift limit to be £3,000, but in order to know whether IHT will be an issue in the future, he would need more specific information about the grandmother’s estate. He also asked whether her grandmother was still married, as she could use her spouse’s allowance to extend her own. He suggested the shopper visit the Society of Later Life Advisers website to get more information, and to call back to arrange a face-to-face visit, upon which more options and a fee would be discussed. 4/5

Knowledge: The adviser was clearly knowledgable about the complexities of IHT such as the annual allowance limit, being able to pass on the allowance to a spouse, types of gifts exempt from the overall £325,000 threshold, and the different tax rates. He was, however, reluctant to oversimplify IHT solutions and to discuss further details over the phone. 4/5


Email: 5/5

Verdict: The shopper was connected quickly to a professional and helpful adviser, who suggested she seek further information via the Solla website, but was unable to give more details over the phone. Nevertheless, the shopper felt comfortable talking to the adviser and would not hesitate to arrange a face-to-face meeting.