How to prepare to meet an IFA
Before preparing to meet an IFA, it is a good idea to take stock of finances. The more detailed the budget or finance plan is, the better able the IFA will be to give specific advice. Using a spreadsheet to list income, and costs or outgoings in one place; can help individuals to see how much disposable income they have. When drawing up a finance plan it is important not to forget finance and insurance costs.
Useful information to include in a finance plan about loans, credit card debt and mortgages is detailed below:

  • The loan or mortgage term – when the loan or mortgage ends
  • Any penalties for paying off the loan or mortgage early
  • The loan or mortgage monthly payments
  • The loan or mortgage interest rate
  • What the outstanding loan or mortgage amount is (include a date)
  • Any existing credit card debt (include a date)
  • And – if you are planning around a mortgage – what the approximate value of the property is.

Judging property value can be tricky. A local estate agent should be able to provide a market valuation, or if a more general figure is sought comparing prices online via a property listing site such as Rightmove or Zoopla may be sufficient.
Life assurance, savings, investments and pension valuations including death benefits should all be listed as assets. Though if an amount is paid monthly for a pension, investment, ISA or for insurance; it should be listed above as an outgoing.
As with loans or mortgages for any investments, ISAs, insurances (including any life, critical illness, income protection and buildings and contents insurance) and/or pension; You should include:

  • Term – when payment/final sum value is due
  • Current valuation (include a date)
  • Value to a spouse (if different to value to investment holder)

all monthly premiums/contributions should all be detailed.

All the above information is very useful to have prior to meeting with an IFA or when seeking a consultation with an IFA for the first time. It helps the advisor to properly assess and fully understand the current situation of the person, or people seeking advice. Knowing more about goals, aspirations and future objectives also allows the IFA to give you more ‘holistic’ advice, that is in keeping with lifestyle choices. The IFA’s approach when making their recommendations will be influenced by the individual’s thinking about what they want from their current or next life stage.
For targeted and tailor-made specialist advice we would recommend that people specify as best they can what they actually need.

When looking to maximise disposable income many people can cost save; even though changing the cost of living or increasing earnings may not be possible.

Cost saving tips
Many people regularly save hundreds of pounds per year on utility bills, household and car insurance, media streaming and television viewing deals, internet and mobile phone network and device costs; by checking the price to renew contracts with an existing supplier. A lot of businesses want to attract new customers. This means that though the first-year deal may be good value, often by year two or three the costs are higher than they would be with another provider. It might be worth diarizing anniversaries for the range of services as listed above. Companies such as Which? and uSwitch can help with reminders about service costs and renewals.

Although most advisors cannot give guidance on utility bills and TV deals they may be able to help with reducing monthly costs for protection assurances such as life, critical illness and income protection policies. Cash ISAs often attract an initial fixed interest rate and then after a pre-set term fall back on the providers’ variable rate, which can be quite low.
As well as reviewing household bills we would recommend reviewing: Cash ISAs, and protection assurances including life, critical illness and income protection policies.

The cost of living and earnings – what to expect
Despite enjoying economic growth and record-high employment figures, earnings in the UK are only just beginning to increase since 2008. In fact, in the three months to April earnings fell slightly by 0.1%, but they are just starting to recover.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) average weekly earnings have increased throughout the second quarter of 2018 by 0.4%; when compared to the same period in 2017.
Mortgages and rent absorb the majority of debt for households. Currently the Bank of England has been able to maintain low interest rates, which means that predictions for the rising cost of servicing debts remain low. However; the finance media is speculating that interest rates may rise in August from 0.5% to 0.75% which will put more pressure on mortgage and rent payers alike.
But it is not all bad news; London used to top the bill as one of the most expensive cities to live in globally, but recent changes to the value of the dollar and pound have seen Paris, Zurich and Oslo topple London from a top 10 position. New York has fallen to 13th place on the ‘most expensive cities to live in’ list.

Though the UK economy is stable; the financial needs of the individual change depending on the life stage that they are in. A change to a life stage is very often what motivates someone to seek independent financial advice.

Please call our team of Chichester-based IFAs on 01243 532 635 to arrange a consultation.

To discuss pensions, retirement and investment plans (including ISA’s) with us please ask to speak to Richard Smith.

To discuss Life, serious illness, equity release (to provide for retirement income) and income protection insurances please ask to speak to Hamish Gairns.

To discuss mortgages and insurances please ask to speak to James Mayne.