The best-value piece of advice ever?

What kind of difference can protection make? As it turns out, quite a lot. Justin Rourke, an IFA with Armstrong Watson Financial Planning, reveals what he considers the most important piece of advice he ever provided.

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Justin RourkeI have been fortunate enough to have had my fair share of long-term clients over the years, and I continue to advise many of them to this day. During that time I have enjoyed seeing my clients raise families, develop their careers and even set up their own businesses, and I’ve taken great satisfaction in being able to help out in these major life events wherever I can.

When I think back on the advice I’ve given in the past, there are many examples that stick in my mind. For instance, there was the time I gave a large firm tailored pension advice that resulted in them saving over £60,000 in corporation tax. Then there was the client who needed help with their family business, in particular the purchase of their business premises by using a pension. And not forgetting the couple I advised on estate planning, who by the careful use of investments and a trust arrangement were able to save over £150,000 in inheritance tax and pass the money on to their loved ones instead.

There are some big numbers there – but the role of an Independent Financial Adviser isn’t just to advise those who are already wealthy. The best relationships with clients are built up over time, throughout the various stages of life and business. In fact, I think the most important piece of advice I have ever provided was to a young gentleman in his mid-twenties.

Setting up safeguards

This young man had recently married and had a toddler and another baby on the way. After much soul searching, he’d decided that the time was right to set up his own business. He had an outstanding mortgage of around £100,000 on the family home, which at the time was worth around £150,000. He didn’t have much in the way of savings, and as the sole breadwinner he soon realised that setting up his new business was costly.

Initially, he thought that setting up a pension would be a priority, to allow his savings plenty of time to build up. However, we eventually agreed that protecting the mortgage was a must. We set up a life and critical illness policy to repay the outstanding mortgage loan in the event of death or serious illness. This gave him peace of mind that the family home would be retained and the outstanding debt repaid should the worst happen.

We went on to discuss a further protection policy, this time linked to his new business venture. He was the key person within the business, so if anything happened to him there would be no business left, nor any income to support his young family. Again, we decided on a policy which provided life cover and critical illness insurance over an 18 year period, to provide security to his family while his children were growing up.

Unfortunately, just four years and three months after we set the policies up, he was diagnosed with a severe illness, despite being aged just 29, physically fit and still very active. However, his condition met one of the definitions of a critical illness, which meant that both his policies paid out.

The outcome of advice

But that’s not the end of the story. I am pleased to say that, two years on, my client is fully recovered from the illness. He and his wife have two healthy children and, thanks to the protection policies, they now live mortgage-free in their family home. His business is also up and thriving again, employing three members of staff, and thanks to the proceeds of the second policy he has been able to protect the firm’s financial position.

Every family and business can take away a lesson from this story, which fortunately had a happy outcome. We all face unexpected events and challenges, some of which can be planned for and some of which can’t. But at the very least, you can put plans in place to protect against the worse-case scenarios that life can throw at you. Seeking financial advice is often a small price to pay for the security it can provide.

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Justin Rourke is an IFA with Armstrong Watson Financial Planning. Find your nearest office:

Dumfries

Fairview office, Carlisle

Rosehill office, Carlisle

Hexham

Kendal

Leeds

Northallerton

Penrith

Skipton

Workington