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  • 05 September 2014

    It's all change at FMB...

    It’s all change at FMB this month! From Monday (1st September), we have made some structural changes within the company which will, in turn, affect the way that we work.

    Previously, our 10 Financial Planners were supported by two teams of administration support staff. These staff members concentrate on all of the ‘behind the scenes’ work that goes on at FMB that most of our clients don’t know much about. For example, when you make a new investment with us, they deal with sending the application forms off to the investment provider, making sure the money is invested correctly and speedily, and that all the paperwork is correctly produced. They produce valuations of your investments, handle enquiries and produce high quality financial plans for our clients.

    At FMB we fully recognise the importance of providing a personal service. We know that when you call us, you don’t want to be ringing an ‘0845’ telephone number, be placed on hold or have to choose from an endless list of options. What you want to receive is a personal service; dealing with somebody who you are familiar with, who you can get through to straight away, and who is fully qualified to answer your queries.

    Therefore, running alongside our excellent Client Services Team, we have appointed several ‘Relationship Managers’ and ‘Assistant Relationship Managers’. These are some of our most highly qualified administration staff who will work closely with the Financial Planners to provide the very best possible service to our customers. They will understand the relationship between the client and the Financial Planner and will be able to continue providing a top quality administration service, therefore allowing the Financial Planner to spend their time doing what they do best – conducting face to face meetings with our clients and producing high quality financial plans to ensure that their objectives and goals are achieved.

    Why not take a look at the ‘Meet the Team’ section of our website to learn more about the individuals who make up the excellent administration team at FMB…

  • Paddy
    Caption: Paddy Billington
    Me receiving my 10 year long service award
    Caption: Me receiving my 10 year long service award

    Our newest recruit at FMB is a 21 year old local lad called Paddy who is as keen as mustard to learn the ropes within his role as Trainee Client Services Assistant. I can see he will do well here.

    I recall my first day here at FMB when I was 20 years old, back in June 2002 where I started out in an administration role. This is what I had been doing at Scottish Provident since completing my GCSE’s, until the future of one of Kendal’s largest employers was cut short by a takeover.

    Fast forward 12 years and I have taken more examinations than I care to remember, conducted hundreds of client appointments and feel not only confident, but happy in my work. I have pushed myself to progress, learn more and have been fully supported by my Employer along the way - like many of my colleagues.

    FMB encourages individual development at all levels and sources the best training and support available.

    Another theme at FMB is longevity. It is not a rare occurrence to find individuals who have been here longer than a lot of our office furniture! Many of the team have notched up in excess of 10, 15 and even 20+ years’ service. FMB must be doing something right, not only for their staff but also for the thousands of personal and business clients who have a long and established relationship with us – many who have dealt with us since 1987, when the firm was established.

    By staying local, you can go further!

  • My daughter started nursery this week. It was a little sooner than planned but we are confident that some extra help with childcare will be a positive step. After some nail biting and tears (hers, not mine…yet), she got through her first day.

    My mind then turned to paying for the childcare. Grandparents are a lot cheaper! When I had my first child, childcare vouchers didn’t exist. They are a tax efficient way of paying for registered childcare. You sacrifice some of your salary for an amount of childcare vouchers. You save the income tax and the National Insurance on this amount, which effectively means that the part of your salary you exchange for childcare vouchers is tax free. The cost of these vouchers is then paid directly to the childcare provider.

    A basic rate taxpayer can exchange up to £243 each month; which is £124 for a high rate taxpayer and £97 for an additional rate taxpayer.

    There are of course rules with the payments, such as it has to be a registered nursery or child-minder, so although Grandparents are definitely less expensive, you cannot use the scheme to pay family members or friends to look after the children.

    Although it is a very tax efficient system, you would also have to consider any benefits that you may lose or may be affected because you are in affect ‘losing’ some of your income. For example, you might lose some entitlement to tax credits or National Insurance accrual, depending on your circumstances.

    All in all I found it very straightforward to set up (partly because our company is very focussed on helping working parents) and I am glad I did it.

  • We are now (scarily) in to August and every year at this time I always hope that the heat of summer will return, as today it is my birthday and I always look forward to spending some quality time with my family.

    Whilst for me this year is not a “special birthday” such as a 30th..... or 40th (that one’s still a couple of years away thankfully!) it got me thinking that in my role as a financial planner, I spend most of my time looking forward; planning for future birthdays and retirement, but, what would I find out about my birthday if I looked backwards?

    Most of us have “googled” ourselves to find out where our namesakes live, what they look like and what they do for a living, however, it struck me that I actually know very little about events that have actually happened on my birthday. Therefore today I decided to have a trawl back though history (through the medium that is Wikipedia) to find out about other significant things which happened on the 4th August.

    Well, it turns out that a lot of things have happened… I share a birthday with countless others including Mary Decker and Barack Obama. This day in 1870 saw the establishment of the British Red Cross Society, it also marks ‘Coast Guard Day’ in the States, Constitution Day in the Cook Islands, and Revolution Day in Burkina Faso. It is the 216th day of the year (217th in leap years) and it is now only 142 days until Christmas - so expect to see the advertising start soon!

    But my particular favourite is that I have found out that on this day in 1693, Champagne was “invented”, so it would seem to be rude not to celebrate an anniversary as well as my birthday so I think I will now go and enjoy a birthday drink.

    If it is your birthday soon, then I would like to wish you “Happy Birthday” but whilst you may be looking forward to the day, if you have five minutes then have a look back too – You may just find out a few more things about your birthday that you were unaware of.

  • At the end of my last blog of 29 April we left Arved Waterhouse in the spring of 1914, newly graduated from Oxford University and no doubt looking forward to the rather wealthy and privileged lifestyle in to which he had been born. He was a keen tennis player and being a member at both Kendal and Windermere golf clubs, he also enjoyed a round of golf – perhaps he used his motorcycle and sidecar to carry his clubs to and from the courses. He would have been a familiar sight in and around Kendal on one of those ‘new-fangled contraptions’ on roads otherwise the almost sole preserve of the horse and cart.

    As spring slipped into summer that year, a major European war was probably the last thing on his or anybody’s mind. In Europe there were the continuing squabbles between the posturing Hapsburg Empire of the twin states of Austria-Hungary and their smaller neighbours in the Balkans whilst the great powers of Germany, France and Russia did a bit of ‘sword rattling’ in support of or in opposition to each other in line with treaties signed years ago.

    On 28th June, in the Serbian city of Sarajevo, the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, were assassinated by extremists whilst undertaking an official visit.

    In Austria and Hungary there was outrage – in London everyone consulted their atlas to see where Sarajevo and Serbia was - and then carried on as normal dismissing the murders as a minor and unfortunate incident in a faraway and troubled part of Europe.

    Austria-Hungary issued Serbia with an ultimatum, which demanded a response within 48 hours, and was intended to be so onerous that Serbia could not possibly comply and which would then ‘justify’ Austria-Hungary in responding with over-powering military might to bring an end to a long-running problem in the Balkan state.

    Throughout Europe the various great powers now began to respond according to the obligations of those old treaties, Germany firmly supporting if not encouraging Austria-Hungary, whilst Russia stood resolutely with its Slav neighbour and France was obliged to support Russia. When Serbia rejected the terms of the ultimatum the political temperature increased dramatically.

    Britain stood and watched – it was not a quarrel of its making and there was no desire to get involved. Arved, whilst being aware of what was happening in general terms, probably did not give it a second thought and carried on enjoying life.

    As the armies of Austria-Hungary mobilised to fight Serbia, Russia mobilised to support Serbia, Germany mobilised to support Austria-Hungary and to pre-empt any French action. France mobilised in support of Russia and to pre-empt any action by Germany. Everything was now moving inexorably towards war.

    Still, Britain did not think it would come to anything – and had no intention of becoming embroiled in any case.
    On 28th July the first shots were fired on Belgrade by Austro-Hungarian forces and the First World War had begun.

    Even London could now see the grave danger facing the whole continent.

    Germany launched its famous Schlieffen plan, which involved a lightning strike at France through the neutral territories of Luxembourg and Belgium, the intention being to knock France out of the conflict within just a few weeks thus allowing Germany to concentrate its forces against Russia.

    The problem for Britain was that this country had guaranteed the sovereignty of Belgium and following the refusal of Germany to withdraw from Belgian territory, Great Britain declared war on Germany on 4th August 1914.

    At home the small regular British Army was immediately called to a war footing and despatched to support France and Belgium by 14th August. An immediate call went out for all able-bodied men to rally to the colours and enlist for a war that was widely expected to be ‘over by Christmas’.

    Arved had been a member of the Officer Training Corps whilst at Oxford and on leaving he had enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant in a reserve battalion of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. On the general mobilisation of 4th August he was called up and sent to Dover in readiness to go to France with the 4th Division of the British Expeditionary Force.

    On the night of 22nd August the battalion embarked on the SS Saturnia in Dover and arrived in Boulogne the following morning.

    At least part of the 4th Division was in action almost immediately during the retreat from Mons and the subsequent fierce action at Le Cateau where the German advance was held up for long enough to take the impetus out of their advance and, arguably, to be one of the decisive actions which ultimately determined the final outcome of the entire war.

    Whilst Arved’s battalion was certainly heavily involved in a series of actions throughout September there is no evidence that he took part in any fighting at this stage.

    His turn would soon come - as we will see in just a few short weeks from now...

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