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  • My wife, Josie, and I flew out to Cape Town for a holiday on 8th November. After a long but reasonably comfortable flight, we arrived at our accommodation about midnight.

    We had packed two Kindles for use on the flight, but as we unpacked our hand luggage, they were nowhere to be found. To lose one Kindle is a misfortune; to lose both is carelessness. And so it began.

    On our first day, we awoke to the news that the next American President would be Donald Trump. We planned to spend our first day finding our bearings, we walked around the Waterfront and checked to see if the cable car up to the summit of Table Mountain was running – it wasn’t, ‘operations suspended due to high winds’.

    We booked a trip to one of the townships for the following day as part of an ‘Apartheid Era’ tour. We were extremely chastened by the conditions in which so many people are still living in South Africa but at the same time encouraged by their unfailing cheerfulness. That afternoon we were due to take the short boat trip to Robben Island, but on arrival at the quay we saw a sign which was to become extremely familiar to us during our stay - ‘operations suspended due to high winds’.

    I had arranged car hire for the next three days so on the Friday we set off for Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. Having driven through some stunning scenery, we arrived at the ubiquitous Visitor Centre and got parked remarkably easily. I managed to open the car door at about the fourth attempt and stepped out into a howling gale. We struggled to the steps leading to a lighthouse at which point Josie ‘stalled’ in the teeth of the gale and literally could not continue a single step further. Attempting to be brave, I managed to get to the lighthouse by the simple expedient of hanging onto the handrail and pulling myself along. Coming down was much easier.

    On the Saturday the plan was to drive out to the botanical gardens at Kirstenbosch, but on the way we saw the cable cars heading up Table Mountain, so we hurried to the base station and joined the queue (and what a queue it was!). Eventually, we boarded our gondola and took the 9-minute ride to the top. The views from the top were truly stunning – if you could stop your eyes watering in the very fresh ‘breeze’. We had done it! On the way down the wind was getting up again and just after lunch, the cable cars were yet again suspended.

    Sunday had been designated ‘whale watch’ day, and so we set off to Hermanus located about 75 miles from Cape Town. We got parked right on the sea front and walked along the cliffs for a couple of miles or so before taking lunch in a small restaurant and then strolling back to the car. On the way back to Cape Town we stopped off in Stellenbosch – a famous wine producing area. We strolled around the quaint town in glorious weather with just a light refreshing zephyr.

    Monday dawned bright, clear and windy and was a ‘free’ day according to our plan. We strolled around the Waterfront and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and noticed that the wind seemed to be abating somewhat and the swell in the bay looked noticeably less than in recent days. We hurried to the quay to enquire about the boats to Robben Island – they were running - Hurrah!!!! We got aboard the first available boat and enjoyed a very pleasant trip out to the island. We had the tour around the island led by a former prisoner and were given some very explicit details about the life and conditions of prison life on the island.

    The trip back to Cape Town was slightly bumpy, and it came as little surprise to see the notice boards displayed on the quayside announcing that yet again further ‘operations were suspended due to high winds’.

    The following day, Tuesday, we had to pack ready for our night flight back to the UK, and so we just took the ‘tour bus’ along the coast all the way down to Hout Bay and back again. It was amazing to see how some of the trees are bent almost double in the wind!

    All in all, a very interesting and enjoyable holiday where we got to do everything we had intended but perhaps not in the right order. Oh, I forgot to mention the whales… they had last been sighted two weeks before we arrived and had left for the summer. Oh well!

  • 23 January 2017

    Keeping it fresh at FMB

    New Technology, new processes and new faces. Why we welcome change at FMB to keep us on our toes.

    Well as 2017 starts with people refreshed after the Christmas break and brimming with new ideas, challenges, resolutions and the like, we start the year at FMB with lots of new faces and challenges too.

    The world never stays still and neither do we at FMB; never one to sit on our laurels and follow the crowd. We are constantly reviewing what we do, how we do it and looking to the latest technology for better ways to bring value to our clients.

    Our aim is to exceed our client’s expectations and deliver a truly holistic financial planning service which benefits their life and helps them to achieve their goals in the most effective way possible.

    To do this we are constantly reviewing and refining our technology and processes to try and make them as efficient, effective and as Client focussed as possible. The whole team is involved with this process, as well as our Clients. We regularly contact clients for feedback and we act on all the feedback we receive.

    This year we are launching PFP (Personal Finance Portal) for interested clients. This is a totally secure and encrypted user friendly web portal for clients to see their full portfolio, latest valuations and importantly includes a secure messaging system.

    Later this year we are also launching an automated ‘Robo Advice’ portal for those clients who don’t need a full planning service. This will enable simple investments to be made by the client themselves using our tried and trusted investment process. If people do need some extra help they have the confidence of knowing we are still here to help them rather than some faceless call centre.

    We can only deliver this technology and improve what we do with the help, support and enthusiasm of our staff. It is essential that our staff share our values and passion, so we were so proud to be awarded the Investors in People Silver Award last year, which demonstrates our shared values and commitment to employing, training and developing an excellent team.

    This year has started with four new recruits; David Edwards join us a new financial Planner with many years experienced in the industry, Charlotte Corr, a diploma qualified and experienced Paraplanner joins us as Relationship Manager. Nicole Roberts, fresh from university along with Alasdair Brown, son of our MD Liz joins our Client Services team.

    David, Charlotte, Nicole and Alasdair have been taken on due to qualifications and experience, but more importantly for their attitude, enthusiasm and shared values.

    For us FMB is all about people; our clients and our staff. New members of the team come with fresh ideas and new perspectives and we love that!

    No better time than the start of a brand new year for new ideas and challenges, so our new recruits will be an important part in developing our client experience and help us to deliver the excellent level of service we feel passionate about. So look out for the new faces when you’re next at FMB - they all look forward to meeting you and making your experience with FMB a positive and happy one.

    Click here to read to find out more about our team.

  • The season of goodwill has traditionally been followed by a season of increased filing of divorce petitions.

    Of course the assumption is that the festive period is a time when cracks show because of the pressure to have the perfect family Christmas. However, in reality the reason most people choose January to announce the decision, is that they do not wish to spoil Christmas for their loved ones. In actual fact, they have been planning the moment and putting it off until after the period of enforced togetherness. Divorce is far from a spur of the moment decision for the majority.

    Many couples have always shared financial decisions and organised their finances together, so going solo can be very daunting. Sometimes financial planners like FMB do not get involved until the very end when the court has imposed a pension sharing order. However, solicitors and courts are not financial experts. Often there could have been a better way to share the finances than the court decrees, particularly with pensions, to avoid loss of benefits within long standing policies. By analysing the pensions at an early stage, we can achieve a better outcome for both parties.

    Separating your financial affairs can be complex and when emotions are high, it makes sense to have somebody calmly helping with financial decisions that could have long term consequences.

    A fresh start in a new life is an excellent time to sit down and re-evaluate your priorities. If you have suddenly become the main breadwinner; supporting a family with no backstop, then it is especially important to think about making a long term financial plan to ensure you have everything in place for all eventualities.

    At FMB, we find that new clients often arrive because of a life change. We understand how emotionally draining and time consuming this is. Our job is to find solutions to carry you forward. The starting point is where you are now, but we also want to know about you as a person so we can unlock your thoughts, fears and dreams for the future in order to create your personal financial plan.

    So if your New Year is the start of a new life, click here to arrange a no obligation chat with a financial planner to talk about how we can help.

  • 16 December 2016

    The Joy of Giving...

    As we run up to Christmas, I have been talking about gifts with my children. My eldest daughter is beginning to understand the joy of giving as well as receiving and it’s lovely to see. She went off to school for the last day of term with a bag of treats for the girls in her class. They were just bits and bobs she made; pom poms, loom bands, rubbers etc. but what was delightful was the time she took to write each label.

    “To my amazing friend, here are some sticky notes to write all your ideas.”
    “To my brilliant friend, here are some pens so you can do your fantastic artwork.”

    She had taken the time to personalise each label with her friend’s special skills and compliment them. But what was so great was the excitement she clearly felt about giving them…

    If only giving remained such a simple delight!

    As we get older it becomes more complicated. We like to give to our children and it’s nice to help them while we can still be around to watch them enjoy it.

    Here are some doubts we hear from our clients…

    “I’m not sure they will spend it wisely.”
    “I want to give but what happens if they get divorced?”
    “I want to help them, but I’m not sure I’ve got enough for my own future.”
    “I want to give but what about tax?”

    A financial planner can help you with all of those conundrums, provide a listening ear and help you give in a way that suits you and your family. You can feel all the joy of giving without the worry!

  • Our Directors attended the PFS Financial Planning Symposium in Birmingham yesterday, which is a day jam-packed full of thought-provoking sessions from some of the industry’s finest speakers. Later in the afternoon I was shocked to see a tweet from M.D Liz Beavis stating a statistic they learned in one of the sessions – a scary 50% of people do not have any form of life cover!? This got me intrigued to uncover more statistics…

    Can you believe that, in 2014, of the 26.7 million households in the UK:

    • 20.4 million households had contents insurance and
    • 20.1 million had motor insurance

    YET ONLY

    • 3.2 million had mortgage protection and
    • 0.6 million had term life assurance?

    These are seriously alarming statistics!

    Of course, motor insurance is compulsory for anybody driving a car so that statistic is guaranteed to be high, but when contents insurance is not a legal requirement it is alarming to see that 76% of households possessed this cover in comparison to 12% of households having mortgage protection and a mere 2.2% possessing term life assurance.

    No-one likes to think about the unexpected things that life throws at us such as falling ill or dying, but all too often we deal with situations where clients say “if only we’d thought about this before.”

    There are many forms of life cover which can be used to suit different needs, term life assurance and mortgage protection are just two of these:

    Term life assurance is an insurance policy that pays out a sum of money if the insured person dies within a fixed period set out in the policy. These policies are usually used to provide for your family once you’re gone; covering living expenses and replacing lost income, enabling your loved ones to maintain a comfortable standard of living, cover bill costs and pay for funeral costs.

    Mortgage protection (or mortgage life assurance) is a decreasing insurance plan, specifically designed to protect a repayment mortgage. If the policyholder were to die during the policy term, the policy would pay out a capital sum that will be just sufficient to repay the outstanding mortgage; allowing loved ones to continue living in the family home without the worries of affording the payments.

    So, what 50% do you fall into? Are your loved ones protected should the worst happen?


    Source: Association of British Insurers (2016) UK Insurance & Long-Term Savings Key Facts

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