Real-life advice: your stories
What can financial advice do for you? How many different ways can it help? What’s it like to arrange your finances with an adviser? Find out in these true stories from people who’ve found their advisers through unbiased.co.uk.
Tricia discovered unbiased.co.uk by a fluke, and it put her in contact with Jon French, an IFA from AW Financial Management LLP.
‘I knew I had money in various places, but I also knew it wasn’t necessarily earning as well as it could, so I wanted to see if it could do better. I’d had financial advice before, from a big company, but this time I was looking for a local adviser who’d provide me with a better continuity of service, as well as being more convenient.
‘I was after pension advice, but Jon wanted to look at my whole financial situation, everything – I went in armed with a big wallet-full of information so that he could see the big picture. The first thing he did was confirm what I’d thought, which was that my current pension setup wasn’t enough to keep me in the style to which I’d become accustomed! I had lots of little pots in many different places and didn’t have much idea how well they were performing. After he’d sorted it all out, I was left with one big pot and a very clear picture of what it would give me in retirement.
‘I also found money I didn’t know I had, pension pots I’d forgotten about or lost track of, and the endowment that had been set up to pay off my mortgage – there was even a bit left over from that to give me a small nest egg. Jon was always able to give me advice in other areas, such as using ISAs to save on tax. It left me a lot more confident and much more aware of my circumstances.’
William saw his finances thrive through a decade of notorious ups and downs, thanks to Lowes Financial Management.
‘I grew up watching my father manage his own wealth. A considerable expense in time, money and energy accompanied this close management – the daily buying of the Financial Times became costly in more ways than one. Quite often, all this research didn’t produce the hoped-for gains and much of the time my father wasn’t a happy man!
‘I came into some money from a legal settlement and inherited my parents’ portfolios. The shares were with Barclays, but I didn’t like the fact that it was called ‘Barclay’s Wealth’. To my mind it should be ‘Bill’s Wealth’!
‘I also felt that I was a small fish in a large pond, but then I discovered Lowes. Soon I moved all the shares over to them, feeling it was much better to have one base you can trust with your money.
‘They helped sell the shares tax-efficiently and the proceeds went into a portfolio of funds and structured products. While these latter investments have had a mixed reception from some financial advisers, I’ve found that the ones Lowes selected, in the main, did well.
‘I was particularly pleased with one that gave an 80% gain over four years! The only structured product that has lost me money was linked to the Nikkei, which was hit by the various crises in Japan that were impossible to predict.
‘Where financial advice has also been invaluable is with inheritance tax planning. My adviser has helped me set up trusts for my grandkids and invest money on AIM, where if shares are held for two years then they are exempt from IHT. The gains in the first few months made up for all the charges and a bit more!
‘Another beneficial investment has been Venture Capital Trusts, which pay attractive dividends. Having an extra £100 tax-free coming in each month is definitely welcome.
‘I was very pleased to see the funds invested with Lowes have more than doubled in the last 10 years, simply by taking their advice and letting them do all the work. This is after the deduction of fees and a monthly income paid to me. Having the majority of my investments in one place greatly simplifies my annual tax return (which in the past was an absolute nightmare). Long may it last!’
Paul and Victoria were setting up home together when they decided to approach Aspect 8 for advice on their future security.
Paul: ‘We contacted our adviser Claire Walsh when we were midway through buying our first home. It was taking up all our savings and we were conscious of the fact that we wouldn’t have anything to fall back on if one or other of us couldn’t work for some reason.’
Victoria: ‘At the time we were thinking about the long-term future, which made it even more important. The sick pay offered by our employers would only have lasted a few weeks, so we had Claire arrange some income protection insurance for us. This meant that if an illness stopped either of us working, the insurance would continue to pay us a proportion of what we earn now.’
Paul: ‘For me this was particularly close to home, as I’d had personal experience of this kind of situation. When my dad suffered a heart attack he got a payout from his critical illness policy, which was a great help to our family at a difficult time.’
Victoria: ‘Claire also recommended that we take out family income benefit, to pay a monthly sum to one of us if the other should die. At first I wondered if this was necessary but, as Claire pointed out, it made sense to take it out while we were both in good health, as it might have been much more difficult or expensive to do so in the future if our health wasn’t so good.’
Paul: ‘And it also meant that we got a cheaper premium overall, because we’d combined several policies. Now that’s all taken care of, we can get on with sorting out our new home and planning for the future.’
Paul and Victoria