Do I need to worry about Inheritance Tax and how it will affect me?

Inheritance Tax (IHT) only affects those with a total estate worth £325,000 or more. In such cases, 40% of the amount over £325,000 is taxable as Inheritance Tax upon a person’s death, and for some people, that could amass to a large amount of money. Whilst the value of a person’s estate in these cases suggests this is nothing for their benefactor(s) to worry about, money is better being passed down to them than in the hands of HM Revenue and Customs. For that reason, MAP does tax planning for clients who are liable for this, so as to ensure such a tax bill is minimised as much as possible; this involves more complex pension and investment advice. Benefactors will then be left to make use of the money left to them, and beneficiaries will take equal satisfaction knowing their money is going to their nearest and dearest.

Are MAP’s investment methods fool proof?

As with all other forms of pension and investment advice, our methods are not fool proof; for this to be the case would be virtually impossible. What MAP’s financial planning specialists do however is find out more about their clients in order to understand them and their financial needs and ideals. They then set-up a plan – be it a lump-sum investment, pension or savings plan – based on the level of risk a client wishes to take and involving a good spread of funds; after all, it is wrong to put all of your eggs in the one basket. The best, most consistent performing funds matching the client’s level of risk are used at outset and changed (with the client’s prior permission) as and when they are outperformed. This continues for as long as the client wishes, thus ensuring the client’s plan is maintained and done so in line with their own wishes.

Are protection plans really necessary?

Protection plans are forms of insurance; whilst it is not mandatory for someone to take a policy out with their mortgage (for example) it is highly recommended. If someone is unable to work or loses their partner/housemate and cannot then pay their mortgage, said property will be repossessed and the individual concerned will be left homeless. This is a much more severe scenario than having to purchase a new TV or radio, and is the very reason MAP recommends insurance to accompany a mortgage. Furthermore, when we put such plans in place for clients, we review them regularly to ensure they are getting the cheapest policy available suiting all of their requirements.

How do I go about getting a mortgage in the current market?

The current mortgage market offers very little room for manoeuvre, and that is where expert help and advice is required. There are very few mortgages being offered as lenders look to avoid getting involved in further bad debt, like that which caused the recent recession. MAP, as independent whole-of-market advisers, is able to search through all mortgages available currently, from both High Street banks and other lenders, in order to help clients to remortgage their existing property or move home. Mortgages are out there and MAP knows where to look in order to get them.

Who benefits most from independent financial advice?

The simple answer to this is anyone. Obviously there are different requirements for different people, be that because of age, whether they work, where they work and their own specific requirements. We provide financial advice for young people, who are starting out in the world and worried about redundancies and getting their first mortgage, right through to people who are due to retire and need to know how best to take their pension(s) or want to know how to split up their estate and pass on inheritances in the most financially sound way. And of course, we are happy to advise everyone in between. No matter why someone needs financial advice, we will do out utmost to help map out their financial future.

Can MAP deal with occupational pensions?

Reviewing and advising upon occupational pensions is not a standard area of financial services. There are many complex matters which must be sifted through in order for an adviser to gain the full picture and then advise their client accordingly. For that reason, the FCA has ruled that such advice be restricted to specially qualified individuals only, and they must operate within a firm with the appropriate extra permission to deal with such cases. MAP has that extra permission level from the FCA and has two advisers with the necessary qualifications, not to mention experience, to be able to deal with such cases. This therefore means that should you have a pension through a workplace (current or former) MAP would be able to review it for you and then make the most appropriate recommendations.

Is it better that a firm of financial advisers are directly authorised?

If a firm of financial advisers is not directly authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), they must be authorised through a network or other such firm. Whilst there is nothing wrong with that, those directly authorised benefit from fewer working restrictions, which some networks may put in place so as to limit their exposure. MAP, being directly authorised, allows its advisers to work closely with clients and advise them on their finances, whilst of course operating by the rules and regulations of the FCA.

What difference does it make to use a franchised adviser?

There is very little difference between a normal financial adviser and one which is franchised. Franchising has been described as a business in a box, and so therefore lays out the operating instructions for those who operate within it. This then means a franchised adviser will have strict guidelines to work to, much the same way as some employed advisers. The difference is that as the franchised adviser is running his own business (using a franchise model) they will do their utmost to ensure clients are kept happy at all times, as those clients are more important to their livelihood.

Does being a nationwide firm of advisers adversely affect clients?

The short answer to this is ‘no’. MAP has a team of both independent financial advisers and independent mortgage advisers working throughout the UK. They are all located in different parts of the country, meaning a greater span of coverage for the company, as well as for clients and introducers. Our nearest adviser is happy to see clients regardless of whether they live remotely or in a busy, built-up location.

What does it mean to be independent?

By being independent, MAP is able to research the entire marketplace on behalf of clients. This means our advisers are not tied down to any one company when advising people, which obviously has its own limitations. Our financial advisers can then look at someone’s finances from a bigger perspective and make recommendations which are then more aligned to that person’s needs. As a result of being independent, MAP gives clients the option of paying for our services by either a pre-determined fee or through commission paid from a product provider, or a combination of both.

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