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  • Owing to our location in the beautiful Lake District, it isn't surprising that many of our corporate clients are in the hospitality/tourism industry. When I visit businesses in this sector for appointments with their staff members, more often than not, they are dressed in uniform or clothing bearing their employer’s logo. In these meetings, we discuss the benefits package that their Employer provides for them which, owing to auto-enrolment, consists of a pension scheme as a minimum. However, many employers see the benefits of offering more than just a pension and also provide Death in Service (life assurance), Private Medical Insurance or Private Dental Insurance to their staff. Offering an attractive staff benefits package can not only help attract quality staff but can also help retain them too.

    Back to the clothing... did you know that if you wear a uniform at work, and have to wash, repair or replace it yourself, you may be able to reclaim £100s of tax for up to five years of expenses? This applies whether you only wear a branded t-shirt, or you're a fully-uniformed pilot, police officer or nurse. Don't pay a claims firm; you can do it simply yourself for FREE...

    Money Saving Expert - Uniform Tax Rebate - Income Tax Relief for Expenses of Employment

    We liaise with our clients on all options available to them for rewarding and retaining good, quality staff and would welcome the opportunity to review your staff benefits package.

  • One of the first steps in the financial planning journey is the ‘discovery’ meeting; where you meet with a financial planner and they get to find out about you; your worries, concerns, needs and aspirations for the future. It is at this initial meeting, when discussing goals, our planners often hear those dreaded words, “we just want to get better returns than we would in the bank.” Really? Surely that’s not a life goal!?

    So What is a Goal?

    A goal can be classed as something you hope to achieve by a certain time in your life; for example before you turn a certain age, before you retire or before you die. You will likely have both shorter-term and longer-term goals. It might be that you want to be able to afford to retire early, take a trip of a lifetime or to help your child or grandchild with their wedding or house purchase. Other goals might be a little less conventional such as buying your dream car or wanting to give up work to start your own business. Everyone is different and everyone will have their own plans for the future.

    What Happens Next?

    Once your needs and goals have been established, the planner gets to work on creating a personalised financial plan for you. Your plan includes objectives and actions on how we can help you achieve them. We can also ‘stress-test’ your finances by changing some of the inputs to help answer questions such as, ‘If I was unable to work, could we still afford to pay the mortgage?’, ‘If I retired earlier, would we still have enough money in retirement?’, ‘Can we afford to gift some money to the children and still be able to achieve our goals?” This can be really beneficial as it can provide you with peace of mind knowing how well your finances can cope with significant and challenging life events. This will also highlight if there is a shortfall in savings or protection and what we need to do to turn this around.

    My Life Road Map…

    My fiancé and I have had the odd conversation here and there about what we want out of our future but we’ve never really discussed it in detail – especially not with timeframes. Writing this blog prompted me to initiate a few conversations over dinner…

    We are expecting our first child in August; so a short-term goal for us is to continue building up our savings should we need some additional money while I am on maternity leave. Although we hope not to use it, with my partner being self-employed, having some additional savings would put a lot less pressure on him in quieter work periods and would also allow him to take some guilt-free time off to spend some quality time with me and the baby once he/she is born.

    Within the next three years, we hope to be married. Although we’ve started giving it some thought already, the wedding planning will properly commence when I return to work after my maternity leave, when we can concentrate on saving. Any surplus money from the baby fund can give us a head start with this. Within the next nine years, we hope to have moved into our ‘forever home’ although we’ll definitely need a house move in-between to accommodate the mass of ‘stuff’ accumulated from our growing family.

    It seems like such a long time off for both of us but we both agree that we need to give some proper thought to our retirement and start making personal contributions into a pension – sooner rather than later!

    Longer-term, we would like to think about saving some money so we can financially assist our child(ren) with their house deposit/wedding when the time comes. Also, looking into the far future, we hope that we will be able to spend a considerable amount of our retirement abroad; ideally by downsizing our property here and purchasing a holiday home. We haven’t put a timeframe on when this will be (yet!) as it all depends on how our retirement saving goes and what our State Pension age is – it currently stands at 68 for both of us but it will no doubt increase!

    What Are Your Goals?

    If you haven’t already given it some proper thought, start to think about your goals and when you hope to achieve them by. If you would like some help getting you on the right path to achieving them or need help getting your finances in order, give one of our friendly planners a call.

  • 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.

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