Leading Figure

Investment Rip-OffThe rear sections of newspapers are becoming ever more infested with adverts for organisations who want to claim something back on your behalf; whether it be mis-sold PPI or compensation for something which was probably your fault anyway.

The other day, there was a particularly large advert which stood out. As was intended by the giant advert, it piqued my attention enough for me to actually have a read, even though I knew I didn’t want to.

The advert was for Goodwin Barrett, who make claims on your behalf for mis-sold investments. You can find a copy of it here.

Although the advert clearly says “advertising feature” at the top of it (which is a mandatory requirement), it’s clearly laid out so as to appear to be yet another newspaper article, which is what persuaded me to have a little read.

It starts off with “a leading figure in the financial claims sector is warning consumers about the risks associated with stock market linked investments”. Blimey- if a leading figure is warning us consumers about something, it must be serious, which is odd because I’ve not seen any of these warnings. Who is this leading figure??

“Interest rates have been at a record low for many years now and this can often lead to savers taking risks to better their returns”, says Michelle Barrett, Operations Director at Goodwin Barrett.

So, Michelle Barrett is this leading figure in the financial claims sector? I’m surprised that a leading figure in the financial claims sector has used words such as “many” and “often” instead of providing hard data, making the statement a little vague. Still, such an important person must be easy to find on Google, so Google Michelle Barrett I did.

There’s lots of Michelle Barretts on the interweb but even in between all of the search results for porn stars and big-boobed models with the same name, there were no results for a leading figure of any variety. I even tried Googling “Michelle Barrett leading figure”, but that still didn’t return any search results. How queer.

Michelle Barrett Search

Sill determined to find out more about Michelle Barrett, I visited the Goodwin Barrett website. Rather helpfully, there’s individual bios for each member of the team at Goodwin Barrett, including a list of their qualifications. Here’s Michelle’s bio:

Michelle Barrett  – CeMap

Operations Director

“Helping the ordinary consumer take on the big banks is what we are all about”.  Michelle Barrett

Having worked in financial services for over twenty years, Michelle has a clear understanding of the malpractice and pressure selling which has been  a part of British banking for the past three decades.

So, Michelle has a CeMap? How fancy and financial- she really must be a leading figure in the financial claims sector. But hang on, what exactly is a CeMap?

It’s a mortgage advisor qualification; nothing more and nothing less. So how can a mortgage advisor be a leading figure in the financial claims sector? “Michelle has a clear understanding of the malpractice and pressure selling which has been part of British banking for the past three decades“, despite only working in financial services for between twenty and thirty years. Therefore, we must assume that she’s spent most of that time working in the banking/mortgage industry whilst for less than 10 of those years, she’s likely to have worked in the financial claims sector.

I wonder how Michelle obtained her clear understanding of malpractice and pressure selling? I’m not saying that I think Michelle has mis-sold a mortgage or two before, but I wonder how likely it is that in an industry where this was rife around her, would she really have gone for 20 years not tolerating it or being the only person to not apply a little pressure to someone looking to take out a mortgage?

So far, our self-proclaimed leading figure in the financial claims sector is an ex-mortgage advisor. I can’t find any information or endorsements by others in the financial claims sector to indicate or otherwise imply that Michelle is a leading figure within that sector.

The only option left was to ask Michelle and Goodwin Barrett directly what exactly it is which qualifies Michelle as a leading figure within the financial claims sector.

I sent the following email to michellebennett@goodwinbennett.co.uk, michelle.bennett@goodwinbennett.co.uk, mbennett@goodwinbennett.co.uk and m.bennet@goodwinbennett.co.uk:

Good afternoon, Ms Barrett.

I saw an advert in my local paper for Goodwin Barrett, which referred to you as a “leading figure in the financial claims sector”. I was just wondering how you were a leading figure within the financial claims sector and who else refers to you as such, as when I Google your name you don’t appear within the search results. Also, as far as I can tell from the Goodwin Barrett website, your only relevant qualification is that you’re able to provide mortgage advice.
If you could drop me an email back and let me know who considers you to be a leading figure in the financial claims sector, it would be much appreciated.


I’ve had to try and guess an email address before, but as that person didn’t actually exist I received back a load of “recipient not found” messages. This time, I received error messages for all email addresses apart from michellebennett@goodwinbennett.co.uk, so she’d definitely received my email. I’m not convinced that she’ll reply so I used the online ‘chat’ facility to ask my question, where I spoke to Judi:

Judi 06:26:45 pm

Hello . How can I help you?

Ninja Hedgehog 06:29:23 pm

Hello. I saw an advert in my paper for Goodwin Barrett, which featured a piece from Michelle Barrett. The advert referred to Michelle as a leading figure in the financial claims sector, but when I Googled her I could find no information on her, only of porn stars with the same name. According to your own website, Michelle is a qualified mortgage advisor and that’s about it. I was wondering what made Michelle a leading figure in the financial claims sector and how she came to obtain such a title?

Judi 06:31:09 pm

Can I please take your name, email address and contact number so a colleague can be in contact to discuss this further?

Ninja Hedgehog 06:32:47 pm

Sure. My name is Ninja Hedgehog and my email address is ninja.hedgehog@niho.uk. I just wanted to see how accurate your advert is before I consider using your services.

Judi 06:33:48 pm

Of course.
That is not a problem.
I will pass your details on for further information immediately. Thank you for chatting with us today. If you were happy with the support provided, please consider clicking the ‘thumbs up’ at the top of the chat! If there’s anything else we can help with, please feel free to start a new chat.

Obviously, I didn’t really give any details for Ninja Hedeghog; I made up an alias and decided tonight that I would be Dave Powell.

As Judi was so helpful, I gave her the ‘thumbs up’. I doubt very much that Judi actually works for Goodwin Barrett– she much more likely works in an office half way around the world and takes details from live chat on behalf of many different businesses. My curiosity got the better of me so I thought I’d see if web chat was available as I type this at 10.21pm:

Judi 10:21:12 pm

Hello Ninja Hedgehog. How can I help you?

Ninja Hedgehog 10:21:56 pm

Hello. I was just wondering if live chat was still available at 10.21pm at night.

Judi 10:22:18 pm

It is. I am still here.

Ninja Hedgehog 10:22:47 pm

Do you actually work for Goodwin Bennett or for a company taking chat enquiries on their behalf?

Judi 10:23:37 pm

I do work for Goodwin Barrett

Well, that answered that.

So now, this is just a waiting game and we’ll see if I receive a response to my genuine enquiry about the foundation of claim to be a leading figure in the financial claims sector. I’m going to be on my guard though- I’ll make sure that the leading mortgage advisor doesn’t attempt any of her malpractice nonsense on me.

Have you ever decided to be a leading figure?

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