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  • 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

  • 17 November 2016

    The Season of Goodwill...

    Caption: Image courtesy of Eden Mencap & F Cameron Wilson, Penrith

    The season of goodwill is fast approaching, but here at FMB we are involved in community projects and charity work all year round.

    FMB has always supported local events and clubs; having begun in Endmoor we are proud to sponsor the shirts for Endmoor KGR Football Club. We also support Kendal Bowling League, Kirkby Lonsdale Rugby Club and Levens Choir.

    This year we have supported events such as the WI Charity Gala, The King Singers event for St John’s Hospice, the Annual Rotary Golf Day at Kirkby Lonsdale and this month, the Brathay Trust’s 70th Anniversary Gala.

    We held a retirement seminar last month where volunteers from Cumbria Voluntary Service, The University of the Third Age and Lakeland Voice Choir presented to over 50 of our clients. For kindly giving up their time, we made £100 donations to charities of their choice which included The Bendrigg Trust and Cumbria Voluntary Services itself.

    It’s not just about the money though; as much as we know that is appreciated, we provide our team with opportunities to get involved in charity work within office hours, which you have probably seen in past newsletters with our fundraising efforts for Sandgate Hydrotherapy Pool (South Lakeland Hydrotherapy Trust). At last count, we have raised £15,146 for this fantastic local charity. We also encourage our team to promote their own fundraising endeavours within the workplace too; at the moment, one of our financial planners, Louise Phillips, is currently raising money for Royal Lancaster Infirmary Neonatal Unit through Webb Ivory fundraising catalogue orders, a charity very close to her heart.

    We have two Trustees amongst our staff; Ruth Power who is on the board of South Lakeland Hydrotherapy Trust and Roger Jackson who is Vice Chair of the board of Trustees at South Lakeland Carers.

    Since becoming a Trustee with SLC, Roger has been working with the charity pro-bono to implement a pension scheme for their staff. Last week, Joss Hardisty from SLC visited our office to give a really useful presentation to our team which explained the work of the South Lakes Carers and how they might be able to help our staff and clients. It is great to be able to support the charity and promote the work it does.

    Some of our clients are charities themselves, and we work with organisations such as Eden Mencap on their staff pension scheme. Eden Mencap provides support and opportunities throughout the Eden Valley from their offices based in Penrith. Their services specialise in learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorder meeting individual needs. At the moment they are raising funds to buy the building that they provide services from and are asking for brick by brick donations to help them hit their £200,000 target.

    FMB have signed up to help and we would like to kindly ask clients, especially those in the Eden Valley area, to join us. You can buy a brick from as little as £15 which will go a long way to helping secure the future and sustainability of the organisation.

    Find out more about the ‘donate a brick’ scheme and how you can help on their website by clicking HERE

  • Our team before we started The Ullswater Way
    Caption: Our team before we started The Ullswater Way
    Me enjoying some much needed flat ground
    Caption: Me enjoying some much needed flat ground
    Stunning views over Ullswater
    Caption: Stunning views over Ullswater
    All still smiling! (L-R) Katie, Kelly, Dan, Helen, Ali, Alyson, Chris and Phoebe
    Caption: All still smiling! (L-R) Katie, Kelly, Dan, Helen, Ali, Alyson, Chris and Phoebe

    Why walk 24 miles? My husband thinks I am mad, but along with 15 other colleagues from FMB I took part in the Ullswater Way Challenge at the weekend. The event was organised by Nav4 Adventure and takes in the newly opened circular route around Ullswater as well as some additional high level sections that really add to the fun and diversity of the walk.

    There were times during the day when I felt really challenged and at the edge of my physical capability but it was all worth it. Here’s why we encourage our staff to take part in these kind of madcap adventures:

    • Setting yourself a physical challenge for some point in the future (and I mean actually booking it and committing to it), really does make you up your game and do more exercise. We think that’s a good thing for our team… we want them to be healthy and well. They don’t look that well right now but in the long term they will thank us for it
    • We had a shared experience and made memories that we will remember forever as a team; some good, some bad (thankfully the weather was kind this time, but don’t ask the ones who did the Keswick to Barrow in 2014!)
    • We got out in the beautiful Lake District for a whole day, what’s not to like about that? The Autumn colours were stunning, I love that feeling where you can smell bracken and moss on your clothes when you get home. Put that in a bottle Lancôme!
    • MD Liz Beavis, reminded me en-route, “You really appreciate the little things when you do something like this.” She’s right; you are so grateful for that piece of flapjack at the check point, the point where we went onto grass after a mile of rock, that hot bath at the end and the feeling of being so overwhelmingly tired that you sleep like a baby.
    • Working as a team; making sure everyone has the support they need at the time when they need it. Keeping your spirits up with silly jokes and idle chit chat…for 10 hours! We still liked each other at the end as well.
    • The sense of satisfaction when you look back and say, flipping heck I really did walk THAT far!
    • The banter you have when you’re back in the office about how big your blisters are and how everyone looks in their slippers!

    So what’s next?

    Well, I didn’t get to walk the Yorkshire Dales Three Peaks last year due to a chest infection so a few of us are thinking of having another crack at that. But you know what, it really doesn’t matter what the challenge is, as long as we keep on having the challenge. As "America's Marathon Man", Jerry Dunn, quite rightly says, "Don't limit your challenges, challenge your limits!"

    That’s what counts.

    If you would like to see all of our pictures from the day, check out the album on our FMB Facebook Page HERE.

  • After the historic referendum on 23rd June which resulted in a decision to leave the European Union, the initial worries about the UK plunging into recession with stock market Armageddon have been unfounded.

    There may be difficult times ahead, but the actions taken by Government and the Bank of England to calm uncertainty have been effective.

    Whatever your political opinion on Brexit, financial decisions should be rational, not emotional. Actions taken now can have far-reaching consequences farther down the line. Our opinion has always been that investments should be made with appropriate time horizons in mind and always according to the amount of risk a client feels comfortable with.

    The UK and European markets are just one asset class that makes up part of a diversified portfolio that is designed to withstand shocks like this.

    We meet regularly with the fund companies we work with either in person or remotely so that they can keep us updated on any strategic changes to their funds and what is driving those decisions.

    When we think of investments, many people jump to the stock markets, but stocks and the economy are just one part of a complex jigsaw. Other factors include currencies, precious metals, oil and other commodities, government bonds, interest rates, politics and trade.

    Initial shocks to both the FTSE 100 and 250 have largely been short term so far, but the main factor in long-term buoyancy will be the nature of the trade agreements thrashed out with both the EU and the rest of the world. A lot hangs in the balance, and it will take time. Multi-asset diversified portfolios such as those we use are a great way to make sure you are protected.

    Analysists were surprised that in light of the referendum, Bond rates went down not up. Given the choice between Italian Government Bonds for example and UK Government Bonds, investors obviously thought the UK was a better bet.

    However, caution is generally being exercised. With interest rates currently so low, and global GDP so weak it doesn’t quite stack up. Some of these threats were here long before Brexit and in some ways have never left us since 2008. You could argue that the problems in the financial system contributed to the desire to leave the EU, rather than being a result of Brexit. In the interests of balance, it might be that some of the problems will be exacerbated as a result? Only time will tell.

    At FMB our approach to investment is that we leave decisions about what to invest in (and when) to expert fund managers in actively managed diversified funds. You are most likely invested in those kinds of funds from the selection on our investment panel.

    If you would like more information on how FMB selects funds and how our Investment Committee works, e-mail Rebecca for our free guide at rebecca.wilson@finman.co.uk

  • Trust… How do you earn it?

    Every day I see examples of someone wanting me to trust them when I shouldn’t.

    Spam e-mails are my first pet hate. Today’s beauty was “Helene is urging you to get the financial report done within this week. Here are some accounting data I have collected. Please merge it into your report. Best regards, Earl Watts” Who the hell are Helene and Earl?! These kind of lazy attempts to get me to open a virus laden attachment are so regular now I have become blasé to them.

    My next bugbear is awards. We would love to win a bone fide award and have recently dipped our toe into the water by applying for reputable awards such as those run by our professional bodies and local newspapers. However on a weekly basis I get this:-


    These awards are run by companies who charge you to enter and charge you for the award. So basically you can buy an award. A photographer friend of mine gets the same kinds of solicitations. So if a company is using an award in its marketing I am now beginning to question the value. It’s such a shame and cheapens all the brilliant efforts by people who have actually won an award through excellence.

    Trust is so important in our line of work. It takes years to build and can be broken in minutes. It is not something we take lightly. We work to high ethical standards and our recruitment process emphasises this so people we employ know what we expect. Our financial planners work hard to gain not just the minimum qualifications but beyond and engage with training and professional development to keep them at the top of their game.

    It was with complete dismay that I read not only in our local paper but in the national financial press that a financial advisor not a million miles away from here has been fined £110,000 by the FCA for lying about her qualifications and falsifying documents because she had not met the minimum standards to be authorised by them.

    It is a really sad day for Financial Services and means that we have to work harder than ever to gain the public’s trust.

    If you have any concerns about how to find a good financial advisor always get a recommendation from at least three sources, you can check their qualifications via the FCA website, this case shows that they do check and pick up on any advisors who are trying to buck the system.

    Click here for the FCA Register.

    Click here for advice from the Money Advice Service on how to choose a financial adviser.

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