Pensions  

Mystery shopper: Northampton

Mystery shopper: Northampton

Each week the mystery shopper seeks advice from independent and tied 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 shopper visits Northampton. He is seeking pension advice on behalf of his uncle who is 64 and planning to retire next year. He originally planned to roll his £120,000 pension into an annuity, but is having second thoughts after hearing his friends complain about their annuities. He is open to exploring alternative retirement solutions.

Adviser (Independent):

The Pension House

66 Upper Harlestone, Northampton, Northants, NN7 4EH

Speed of response:

Time of call: 11.18am. The call was answered after four rings. 5/5

Telephone manner:

Very friendly and helpful. 5/5

Relevant qualifications:

Level four diploma. 5/5

Payment method:

Varies. Hourly rate is £150 for financial advice; £130 for technical administration and £85 for general administration. 5/5

Guidance given:

The adviser recommended first that the shopper’s uncle use Pension Wise, which, she explained, was set up by the government to guide savers approaching retirement on their options post pension freedoms. She said employing the public service at the first instance rather than seeking advice was likely to prove economical for the shopper’s uncle, because she would not have to devout time to educate him on the basics.

4/5

Knowledge:

The adviser seemed well versed in the area. She briefly outlined the benefits of an annuity and income drawdown. 4/5

Email/web presence:

jane@pensionhouse.org.uk

www.pensionhouse.org.uk

5/5

Verdict:

Very good. The adviser should be commended for directing the shopper to Pension Wise to help reduce the cost of advice.

33/35

Adviser (Independent):

OCM Wealth Management Ltd

3 Bouverie Court, The Lakes, Northampton, Northampton, NN4 7YD

Speed of response:

Time of call: 11.31am. The call was answered after three rings. 5/5

Telephone manner:

Engaging and helpful.

5/5

Relevant qualifications:

Fellow, Personal Finance Society. 5/5

Payment method:

Typically £1,250 as a one-off fee. 5/5

Guidance given:

Many pension providers do not make it clear to savers seeking to annuitise that they are free to search the whole of market for the best deal, the adviser said. He added annuity rates are not attractive at present because they are loosely linked to base rates which are at a record low of 0.25 per cent. He added individuals with major medical conditions are eligible for an enhanced annuity which could boost the amount of annuity premiums.

3/5

Knowledge:

The advisers displayed excellent knowledge of annuities and explained everything in simple terms.

4/5

Email/web presence:

rranu@ocmwealthmanagement.co.uk

www.ocmwealthmanagement.co.uk

5/5

Verdict:

The adviser gave a comprehensive yet easily digestible overview of annuities, but failed to offer guidance on another key retirement solution: income drawdown.

32/35

Adviser (Independent):

M L Financial Associates Limited

29 Caxton House, Northampton Science Park, Kings Park Road, Northampton, NN3 6LG

Speed of response:

Time of call: 3.15pm. The call was answered after seven rings. 2/5

Telephone manner:

Very friendly and helpful. 5/5

Relevant qualifications:

Level four diploma. 5/5

Payment method: