Category Archive Ongoing Reviews

Bymapfinancesadmin

Offering solutions, not products

What do you think of when you hear the term ‘Financial Adviser’? Does it conjure up the image of someone trying to sell you as many financial services products as possible – life insurance, pensions and savings plans, to name the most common – or do you see someone who can help you achieve your goals in life?

Here at Money Advice & Planning Ltd, we believe our business is about offering solutions to help people to achieve their goals and aspirations in life.

We have heard it said many times that “a goal without a plan is just a wish” and we believe that to be very true. How many people set out on life’s journey wishing to own their dream house, pay for their kids’ education, enjoy their ideal holidays or retire and spend their time playing golf or lying by the pool at their holiday home? Sadly, for many people, the goals and aspirations that they have turn into nothing more than a pipe dream which they will never achieve.

There can be many reasons why this can happen but for many it is down to nothing more than a lack of planning. For others, they see financial products as nothing more than an expense rather than a tool that can help them achieve their goals.

The role of a Financial Adviser is not about selling financial products; it is about offering solutions to help clients achieve their goals and being there over the long-term to make sure that happens. The financial products are the tools the adviser has in their bag to get the job done.

Money Advice & Planning Ltd does what it says on the tin – it provides the advice and planning needed throughout a clients’ journey, to help them achieve their goals, and after all, your goals are our goals!

If you would like to find out about how Money Advice & Planning can help you achieve your goals, please visit us at www.mapfinances.co.uk and use the contact form. Alternatively, call Andrew Singleton on 0345 241 1808.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent professional advice for your own particular situation. Money Advice & Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Bymapfinancesadmin

Are you getting value for money with financial products?

There is a well-known saying that you get what you pay for and you pay for what you get, and this is what we work to at MAP. The number of times we have seen people deciding things solely on a cost basis, without looking at all aspects, never ceases to amaze us.

Our middle of the road charge is 3.5% initial and 1.4% per annum ongoing. For that, whilst there are never any guarantees, we aim to produce returns of about 8% net per annum. The problem with that for a number of people though is that they cannot see what they might get back, but they can focus on what they will pay, and in a few cases, they decide to watch costs and not do anything.

We had a potential client recently with £1.3m to invest and he decided to go elsewhere because of ongoing costs. His ongoing charge was 1.6% and if we had made him 8% net of all charges, he would have still have been better off. By going with someone else however, he may only be charged say 0.75% a year but only make 5% net. In monetary terms this is a difference of 3%, which on £1.3m is £39,000…a lot of money!

We can sympathise with people making these decisions as growth is only a maybe and not a definite, but all we would say to people thinking about investing is to please look at all aspects of the service offered, as it is way more than just charges.

What we do at MAP is constantly watch all the funds we use for investing in, and we only make changes as and when we feel we need to (after getting permission of course). Over a few years now, we have achieved 8-9% per annum for clients with a balanced portfolio using our investment process. Nothing is guaranteed apart from change, which is why we watch the funds that we use every calendar quarter.

The one thing that should give clients a degree of comfort about our charging structure is that MAP will only benefit pro-rata with clients, because we charge a percentage and not a fixed fee. If you don’t make much in any one year, neither do we, as our percentage will be down, so it is in our interests to try and make clients as much as we can, and we can benefit as well.

You get what you pay for and you pay for what you get!

If you would like to find out about how Money Advice & Planning invests client money, please visit us at www.mapfinances.co.uk and use the contact form. Alternatively, call Andrew Singleton on 0345 241 1808.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent professional advice for your own particular situation. Money Advice & Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Bymapfinancesadmin

Robo Advice v. Bespoke Services?

Technology is changing the world on every level, at a pace we could hardly have imagined possible even 10 years ago. On a personal level and, especially in the world of business, technology is shaping how we live and work, both now, and in the future.

Every industry is being shaped by technology and financial services is certainly no exception. You just have to look at how banking has changed in the last 10 years and how we now interact with banks. Straight forward transactions can be carried out much faster online but what do you do when you need some advice and help, especially face-to-face advice?

The IFA world has also gone through many changes in recent years and technology has played a major part in those changes. From back office systems to help you manage your business more effectively to investment platforms that allow you to access and invest client money all in one place, technology has transformed how we operate. MAP has embraced this technology to assist us in maximising returns on our clients’ investments.

The latest technology to enter our sector which you will no doubt hear more and more about is “Robo Advice”. Robo Advice is basically an online investment platform which uses algorithms to assess a clients’ attitude to risk via an online questionnaire before offering what is usually a limited choice of risk-rated portfolios to invest in. There is very little (if any) human intervention and wider issues such as estate or retirement planning are not addressed at all.

At Money Advice & Planning Ltd we believe it is our job to truly understand our clients, their goals and aspirations, and their attitude to risk. We do this through meeting with them face-to-face and building a long-term plan to help them achieve their goals. This is the human aspect of financial advice which a computer algorithm could never deliver.

We provide our clients with a bespoke proactive investment strategy and service – initial and ongoing – to maximise returns on their investments, based on three key steps:

  • Select – We choose the best product and range of funds from the whole of the market based on our clients’ attitude to risk;
  • Review – We regularly review the funds we are happy to recommend to clients based on the funds’ performance; and
  • Switch – We recommend fund switches where necessary and, with your permission, we make those switches.

To provide complete transparency, we provide our clients with 24/7 access to the MAP portal where they can track and monitor the performance of their investments.

We do believe technology has its place, but we don’t believe in one-off, remote financial advice and investment services.

If you would like to find out about how Money Advice & Planning invests client money, please visit us at www.mapfinances.co.uk and use the contact form. Alternatively, call Andrew Singleton on 0345 241 1808.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent professional advice for your own particular situation. Money Advice & Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Bymapfinancesadmin

Fed up getting less than 1% interest from your bank?

We are just about to run an advertising campaign in selected areas attempting to find people who are sitting with medium or large amounts of money in a bank or building society account, getting less than 1% interest on any balances.

One of our advisers recently invested £130,000 for a couple who were only getting around £650 a year interest on it. That’s only 0.5% per annum which is shocking.

The best way to get a half decent return is to invest the money. At this point, I don’t doubt a lot of people are now recoiling in horror at the word ‘invest’, and are imagining losing a lot of money in the process. Investing doesn’t need to be like that – there are a variety of funds and approaches which can be used.

There is one fund we use – a Defensive Managed Growth fund from a well-known fund manager – which concentrates on defensive growing. By that, we mean that it will take specific approaches for growth, but it also plans for losses at the same time, so it is not an out-and-out growth fund. On average, it aims for about 3-4% growth, which is relatively modest, but it will do whatever it can to avoid negatives, which it has managed to do for some time now.

As part of the MAP investment process, we choose consistent-performing funds and then divide them into risk category. There are three main categories we look at – Low Risk, Middle Risk and High Risk – and needless to say if someone is very nervous of risk at all, they should go for Low Risk. Now what this means in investment terms is that the chances of loss are low but please remember losses can still sometimes happen, even with the most care in picking what funds you wish.

Depending on how much money you have to invest, what we would do at MAP is use a number of funds, as this spreads the risk. Let’s say you had £50,000 to invest; we would use 10 funds in total, investing £5,000 per fund. Now in our Low Risk section, we have 36 funds we can use, and from this you can choose from interest-based type funds, global funds, income funds, UK equity funds and European funds, – so there are a number of areas we can choose to give yourself the biggest spread possible and so reduce risk as best we can.

Another thing we do to reduce risk and improve performance is look at the funds we use on a quarterly basis, because everything will change at some point, that’s for sure! If a fund isn’t doing too well, we look to replace it (with your permission) with a fund that is performing well.

There is no way to avoid risk at all when investing, but the MAP process looks at reducing it at every step:

  1. We only use consistent performing funds;
  2. We review all funds every three months;
  3. We always use a spread of funds for all clients; and
  4. We continually monitor our choice.

If you would like to find out about how Money Advice & Planning invests client money, please visit us at www.mapfinances.co.uk and use the contact form. Alternatively, call Andrew Singleton on 0345 241 1808.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent professional advice for your own particular situation. Money Advice & Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Bymapfinancesadmin

Divorce and how it can affect income and future prospects

Divorced client strugglingA leading insurer who has analysed the divorce market recently said that divorcees can expect just under £4k less per year than before. In fact there is even a growing percentage of people who will have no pension savings at all after divorce, and that is very worrying.

Divorcing couples may have concentrated on building up their joint retirement income at one stage, only for this to be cast aside when splitting things up. Any such splits would then possibly be used for essential items like heating, electricity, food and clothing and so any retirement savings have no chance of survival.

MAP as a company has always said the best way to plan pensions is to do as much 50/50 between husband and wife; this in itself would help people a lot more. It is far better if a couple go into retirement with roughly equal pension pots, as this reduces taxation. This same outlook would also help any divorcing couples as well, as they would each have their own pot to use. There would still be additional expenditure of course because you would have two houses to be paid for whereas before it would only have been one, but at least each party would have their own pension pot to utilise. Something is better than nothing!

Divorces can also cause other problems later on in life as well, especially where someone remarries or enters into a new relationship, and forgets to do a new beneficiary for a pension. There are quite a number of people who forget about this until it is too late. And of course after death, nothing can be done.

It is reckoned that people can have up to 11 different jobs over their lifetime and needless to say they can have as many pensions, which are then difficult to keep track of and monitor. Bear in mind that trustees of pension schemes can only allocate pensions according to the written wishes of a member, and if that member forgets to update things, money could end up in the wrong place altogether.

This is where advisers can come in and tidy things up for clients, because IFAs can consolidate a client’s pensions, but only if it is in their best interests to do so, thus keep things tight and manageable. MAP do this for a number of clients but we also monitor what funds are used in any investments, to try and maximise returns and therefore help the retiree.

If you would like to find out how Money Advice & Planning can assist with divorce settlements for any clients, please visit us at www.mapfinances.co.uk and use the contact form. Alternatively, call your local MAP adviser at a time which suits you.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent professional advice for your own particular situation. Money Advice & Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Bymapfinancesadmin

Accountants, Lawyers and IFAs – A Team Approach

Business people making introductionsFinancial, legal and tax advice are areas conducted by professionals adhering to their own sets of standards and qualifications, with their own professional bodies and regulators.

These advice professions are no different to other business sectors though when it comes to facing growing pressure to retain their existing clients, and more importantly, to win new clients and discover sources which will provide those new clients.

Legislation such as the Legal Services Act (LSA) and the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) has forced the legal and financial advice professions to introduce more client centric business models and, at the same time, become more competitive. This in turn has created a growing pressure for these advice professions to diversify and expand their business propositions in order to be more competitive.

Working more closely and proactively with a professional IFA can provide a very simple but effective solution to this problem.

Given the overlap between many areas of tax, legal and financial advice, a number of firms have seen the potential for Accountants, Solicitors and Independent Financial Advisers to work together to leverage each other’s client relationships. It provides those clients with a more holistic, joined-up and value-added approach to advice, and at the same time resolves the challenges of retaining existing clients and finding a source of new clients.

If you would like to find out how Money Advice & Planning can add value to your business and your client relationships, please visit us at www.mapfinances.co.uk and use the contact form. Alternatively, call your local MAP adviser at a time which suits you.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent professional advice for your own particular situation. Money Advice & Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Bymapfinancesadmin

Why getting the right advice is so important

Speak to a financial adviser who can help youEstablishing a relationship with an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) you can trust to handle all of your financial needs is critical to achieving your financial goals. Not all Financial Advisers are the same, so you must beware!

The two main types of financial adviser are those who are independent and those who are not. All advisers must tell you what services they offer from the outset. To be called an Independent Financial Adviser, they must be able to offer a broad range of retail investment products, and give consumers unbiased advice based on a comprehensive analysis of the market.

Restricted or tied advisers on the other hand can only recommend certain types of investment products or products from a limited number of providers (possibly only one if tied). It is important to establish at the outset what type of advice an adviser can offer, to ensure you get the best investment(s) to suit your needs and requirements.

All advisers must be properly qualified to give financial advice and hold the Diploma in Financial Planning, or an equivalent qualification. Advisers must also prove that their knowledge is up-to -date through continual professional development (CPD).

Some types of advice require an adviser to have specialist qualifications – pension transfers and equity release for example. Any companies offering these services should have advisers within their ranks who are suitably qualified to provide advice in these areas.

Advisers must also be transparent in the fees they charge for both initial and ongoing advice and services.

As a valued client of Money Advice & Planning Ltd you can rest assured in the services we offer:

  • Non-restricted advice and planning – no matter what financial advice and products you need, we can help.
  • Face-to-face advice from UK-wide trusted advisers – irrespective of where you are in the UK, one of our advisers will be happy to meet you and discuss matters face-to-face.
  • Fees structured to suit requirements – financial advice should never take on a ‘one size fits all’ approach and our fees will be structured and mutually agreed to suit your needs.
  • Tailored service packages – we don’t believe in one-off financial advice and have several service packages available, so your financial affairs are reviewed throughout your journey with MAP.
  • Whole of market non-discretionary investments – our bespoke investment strategy will cater for your needs and requirements, and give you an investment right for you.
  • Quarterly investment reviews – our proactive analysis of fund performance ensures you are always invested in the best areas to suit your attitudes to risk.
  • Recommended funds – we invest using recommended fund lists, which have been tried and tested to deliver successful returns for our clients.
  • Transparency and peace of mind – clients have 24/7 access to their investments through the MAP portal, so they always know how their investment is performing.

Perhaps most importantly of all, we come tried and tested. Read the reviews of just one of our advisers and see for yourself.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent professional advice for your own particular situation. Money Advice & Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Bymapfinancesadmin

The Markets

The Stock MarketsWhen we were about to start writing this piece about the stock markets, we were going to talk about how placid they had been for some time, and had been showing good growth.

Then they fell…a lot! On January 15th, the FTSE100 reached a high of 7,777, and now at the time of writing this (February 8th) it has fallen to 7,195; a whopping 7% reduction in a matter of days.

From what we can see, there appears to be no logical conclusion for this, but there were some bad economic factors coming from the US, so people have basically panicked.

The overall outlook isn’t bad. Some emerging nations like Brazil (for example) are doing well and coming out of quite a long recession. Japan and the US are doing well, Europe is doing OK, and the UK is doing OK, albeit not as good as the rest of Europe.

We categorise investment funds by risk, and the three main levels are low, middle and high. There is also very low and very high risk, but none of our clients tend to want to use them.

Low Risk Funds

There are quite a few global funds that we recommend; two of the most consistent ones are Royal London Sustainable World Trust, achieving 20.5% over the last year, and Premier Multi Asset Growth & Income, achieving 14.3%.

Middle Risk Funds

There are more global funds in this category than any other, e.g. Old Mutual Global Equity, giving 18.5% growth, which is the most consistent one. One of our long-running excellent performers is Lindsell Train UK Equity, giving 20.7%.

High Risk Funds

The most consistent fund in this category is AXA Framlington Japan, giving 23.4%, but Unicorn UK Growth, giving 36.1%, has done very well recently. High risk is the category where you get a wider variety of funds, and is currently populated mainly by Asian (in particular Japanese) and Technology funds. UK Mid Cap also seems to be making a comeback here as well. As you might guess, there is less consistency with these high risk funds as opposed to middle and low risk, but that is the nature of the beast, so to speak.

When you do any investment, you need a good spread of funds to invest in, and you need to watch them regularly. Funds are like children – you can’t take your eyes off them!!! At MAP, this is what we do. It’s in our nature and our investment process to keep our eyes on your client’s money and try to make it grow.

For any enquiries or just an initial chat, contact Andrew Singleton on 0345 241 1808 or e-mail us at enquiries@mapfinances.co.uk.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent professional advice for your own particular situation. Money Advice & Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Bymapfinancesadmin

Pension Cashflow Forecasting

Discovering Pension WorthWe always find that when we ask a client what he or she is likely to get from their pension, they have no idea. People can tell you what they would like, but whether they have enough or not is another thing…until now.

The Pensions Dashboard is a government initiative which has started recently, albeit it is not yet working. It is an attempt to show people what they might get from all of their pensions; primarily personal pensions, but it also includes the State pension.

What we do for our clients now, that is working, is our Pensions Guesstimate:

Example pension cash flow

The above would be the situation where a client has a personal pension and is contributing to it. If they weren’t, it is easy enough to remove that line, with other values recalculating to show an accurate likely outcome.

This example shows someone taking out their tax free cash at age 55, which is the earliest it can be taken. It can however be taken out at any time thereafter; either as a lump sum or in regular withdrawals.

We have built in withdrawals thereafter at 6% of the value of the pot from age 65 onwards, which is certainly not unreasonable. In the age of Pensions Freedoms, by and large this can be literally anything though.

In terms of growth, the Financial Conduct Authority expects us to be pessimistic so as not to get someone’s hopes up. We therefore use 3% growth if the client is a low-risk investor, 5% if they are a middle-risk investor and 7% if they are a high-risk investor.

Finally, under pension income, this example show the person retiring at age 65, although with pensions freedoms, anyone can retire from age 55. The State pension might be paid at age 65 with the standard amount being £8,100 per annum. We do ask clients to get their DWP forecast, which tells them how much they will get and when they can get it.

The end result, as I am sure you will agree, is a very simplified guess on what a person might expect at retirement. This then allows them to do their planning, potentially with plenty of time left to improve things. The whole purpose of this is simplification, although there are a number of factors where advisers need to keep watching. Pensions Guesstimates are specific to each individual, and if you have any clients who would like one done, please feel free to ask us.

For any enquiries or just an initial chat, contact Andrew Singleton on 0345 241 1808 or e-mail us at enquiries@mapfinances.co.uk.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent professional advice for your own particular situation. Money Advice & Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Bymapfinancesadmin

Adding value to your clients through Proactive Investing

Adding value to clientsIf your clients can maximise their investments – whether this be pensions, ISAs, bonds or general investments – they will be a lot better off. We know that’s a fairly obvious comment but not many people put this into practice.

Let’s say one of your clients has a pension pot of £500k and they have it invested in a Managed fund, or even worse, a With Profits fund; annual growth will likely be no more than 5%. If that client is aged 45 and plans to retire at 65, they can expect a final value in the region of £1.393m. Whilst that is a big sum, if they were to invest in a good spread of funds, including some consistently good performers, and get around 8%, the final sum could be around £2,517m. What a difference!

Calculations show that for every 1% you can improve returns in this example, you improve the end value by roughly £300k. That is a significant difference and would no doubt be greatly appreciated by most, if not all clients.

This is what we attempt to do at MAP – maximise end returns for clients’ investments – which we do through our well-tested investment process. When we take on any new clients and establish their new pensions and/or investments, yes we get an initial fee for setting everything up, but our work only starts there.

It is our job to monitor all funds used within a client’s investment on a regular, quarterly basis. We then make fund switches within an investment as and when needed, in an attempt to maximise end returns. That is the true value of a professional investment adviser.

All investments need to be worked; if not, they probably won’t go perform at all well. At MAP, we attempt to make them work hard, within a person’s attitude to risk, to maximise the end return. As you can imagine, there are no guarantees, especially when you think of the way global markets react to anything and everything. We believe that if you pick consistently well performing funds time and time again, that is half the battle. That is exactly what we do.

At the last time of looking one of our investment advisers had 51 client reviews on VouchedFor, with a score of 4.8 out of 5…not bad at all! We believe this is not only for our investing skills, but also for continually working investments to better their performance. Our advice is both initial and ongoing because that is what is needed with every investment.

For any enquiries or just an initial chat, contact Andrew Singleton on 0345 241 1808 or e-mail us at enquiries@mapfinances.co.uk.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Links to external sites are for information only and do not constitute endorsement. Always obtain independent professional advice for your own particular situation. Money Advice & Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.