What is your job role?

Financial Planner

What did you want to be when you were younger?

Football or a cricket manager.

What is your favourite food?

Definitely curry, ideally the Railway Lamb from Dabbawals!

What is the most embarrassing injury you’ve received?

I broke my ankle when being run over by my best friend. I hobbled home to watch Match of the Day and only later realised it was broken in several places.

What is your greatest inspiration?

My faith in Jesus. I love Easter where we celebrate his sacrifice for us on the cross.

What three items would you take with you to a deserted island?

Other than my family (there are four of them so it would be tricky to know which one to leave behind!), I would bring my bible, hockey stick and a ball.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love helping clients understand their financial situation better and their relief when they know they are going to be okay. I also feel we add real value when we help people enjoy spending their hard earned capital rather than feeling guilty when using it. We have three choices with our money – spend it now, spend it later or give it away. Our job is to help people make wise decisions about what they want to do combined with what they can afford to do.

What is something you find challenging about your work?

Paperwork. Remembering there are people at the end of the paper definitely helps, but this is certainly a “work in progress”.

Getting the most out of retirement and reaching your goals requires planning.

Not thinking about your post-work years until you reach that milestone can mean that a retirement that promised much, falls short. While you might daydream about giving up work, pinning down the details, from your lifestyle to your income, means you’re more likely to turn your dream into a reality.

This guide can help you start to think about the retirement you want and the steps you need to take to secure it. Among the questions it can help you answer are:

  • When do you want to retire?
  • Is blending work and retirement an option you should consider?
  • What does your ideal retirement look like?
  • What are your priorities for retirement?
  • How much income will you need in retirement?

Download your copy of “The useful guide to reaching your retirement goals” to start planning your future.

If you have any questions about the guide or your financial plan, please contact us.

woman playing Wordle on a smartphone

Back in October 2021, Brooklyn-based software developer Josh Wardle designed a simple online game that his crossword-loving partner would enjoy playing during lockdown. After sending it to his family WhatsApp group, it was launched to the public in November with an initial 90 players.

Now, Wordle has become a global phenomenon. Millions of players tackle the puzzle every day, and the New York Times acquired the game from its creator in January for a price “in the low seven figures”.

If you’re unfamiliar with Wordle, the premise is simple. Each day you have to guess a five-letter word. After each guess you see five bricks indicating how close you were to guessing the correct word:

  • A green brick indicates that the letter is correct and in the exact location
  • A yellow brick indicates that the letter appears in the word but in a different place
  • A grey or black brick indicates that the letter does not appear anywhere in the word.

You have six guesses to identify the word, and you can then share your results on social media to see how you did compared to friends.

Of course, since its launch, Wordle has spawned many imitators and similar online puzzles. So, if you’re a fan, here are some alternatives you will love.

Quordle and Octordle

If you like Wordle but one word a day isn’t enough for you, you should try Quordle (four words) or Octordle (eight words).

The premise is the same – guess the five-letter words with green and yellow bricks as clues. However, you have to guess multiple five-letter words at the same time, so tactics most definitely come into play.

Quordle requires you to correctly identify all words in nine guesses, while Octordle gives you 13 guesses.

Nerdle

If your preference is maths over English, then Nerdle is for you.

Here, each sum has eight “letters” that could either be a digit or a mathematical symbol (so it must have one “equals”).

You have six goes to correctly identify the sum. A green brick indicates the correct number or symbol is in the correct space, while a purple brick indicates a correct number or symbol, just in the wrong place.

Heardle

If you have an encyclopaedic knowledge of pop music, then Heardle is the game for you.

Each day, you start with a tiny snippet of a song. With each new clue, these snippets become longer each time. You only have six guesses to name the song and artist.

You also don’t have to worry that it is an obscure album track or B-side. Heardle’s website explains that it has accumulated its library based on “a list of the most streamed songs in the past decade” on Soundcloud.

Worldle

Worldle is a geography-based daily quiz that requires you to identify a country or territory from its outline.

You are provided with an image of a country, and you must identify the nation in six guesses.

Each guess must be a valid country or territory. After each guess, you will see the distance, the direction, and the proximity from your guess to the target country.

The challenge can be mixed – spotting Italy from the outline is not a huge challenge! – but it is a great test of your geography, particularly concerning where countries are in relation to each other.

Taylordle, Swordle, Mickeyrdle and more

The popularity of Wordle has led to dozens of imitations across the web. So, depending on your preferences and niche pop culture knowledge, there’s almost certainly a version for you.

Each of these works in the same way as Wordle – identify a short word within six guesses – but each version limits its word choices to terms relating to the game.

  • Swordle is the game for Star Wars fans. Identify the five-letter Star Wars related word – but this is complicated by the inclusion of numbers and hyphens, meaning droids can be difficult to find!
  • Taylordle is for fans of Taylor Swift. Your daily challenge is to find a word related to the American pop star.
  • Mickeyrdle is the Disney version – perhaps ideal for kids as they search for a Disney-related word.

You can also find versions based on everything from the TV show Supernatural (Superdle) to Lordle of the Rings (no prizes for guessing that one).

Squabble

One of the joys of Wordle is that you can play it alone, at your leisure. If you want the polar opposite of that, Squabble introduces a competitive element.

Here, you now not only guess the right word with the help of coloured boxes, but you do it competing against up to 100 more players attempting to do the same.

The goal is to keep your health bar as high as possible to beat your competition. Taking longer on chances decreases your health, while correct guesses increase it.

Crosswordle

Somewhere between Wordle and a sudoku, Crosswordle is a fun and intriguing spin on the genre.

Here, you are given the correct Wordle solution, and you must fill in the previous rows of tiles with “wrong” answers. You are essentially trying to recreate a Wordle grid given the final word and the colour of the tiles.

You’re up against the clock on this one, and it’s a great little brainteaser while you’re having a morning cuppa.

A person turning a smart thermostat dial.

A government proposal that would raise the minimum energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of buy-to-let properties is already influencing purchasing decisions. If you’re a landlord, thinking about how the potential changes could affect you now could pay off in the long term.

An EPC shows how energy-efficient a property is by giving it a rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient).

Under current rules, any property that is rented must have an EPC and a minimum rating of E, unless there is a valid exemption in place. Exempt properties may include listed or officially protected buildings that would be unacceptably altered when installing energy efficiency measures.

However, as part of the government’s steps to reduce emissions, the minimum rating for buy-to-let properties could rise.

The minimum EPC rating for rental properties could rise to C by 2028

While the government hasn’t confirmed new rules yet, it has set out proposals. These would see all new lets requiring a minimum EPC rating of C by 2025, and by 2028 for existing lets.

Not having an EPC rating that meets the minimum standards could result in a fine for landlords. So, it’s important to understand the proposed changes and how they could affect your property portfolio.

Purchasing data suggests it’s something that many landlords buying a new property are already considering.

According to figures from estate agents Hamptons, half of all homes brought by investors so far this year have an EPC rating of C or above.

While the figures suggest that landlords are keen to get ahead of eco rules, there are significant differences across regions in England and Wales. Two-thirds of new buy-to-let purchases in London already have an EPC rating of C or above. In contrast, just 34% of new purchases in the North East have a minimum rating of C.

Source: Hamptons

The research suggests that the trend has been driven by landlords purchasing homes, particularly flats, that have been built in the last decade. New-build properties typically have an EPC rating of B or C.

In addition, some are choosing to purchase older properties that have already been improved.

If you’re looking to purchase a new property, considering the EPC rating alongside rental yield and other factors can mean you’re better off in the long term.

But what should you do if you already have a property portfolio that doesn’t meet the proposed EPC rating?

52% of property investors would consider selling if the minimum EPC rating rises

If you have an existing rental property that doesn’t meet the proposed EPC changes, it’s worth considering what your options are.

According to a report in the Financial Reporter, 52% of landlords with properties rated D or below would consider selling the property if EPC rules are changed. This is because they don’t think they’ll be able to complete or finance the work that would be required to get their property to the new standard.

If you want to keep your rental property, you may be able to improve the existing EPC rating. From loft insulation to double glazing, there are often many things you can do to improve the energy efficiency of a property.

However, 33% of landlords don’t know what steps they’d need to take to improve their property.

An EPC assessment will include a list of potential savings that can be made if energy-efficient steps are taken. It can help you see which projects to focus on to get the most out of your money.

When asked, the most common steps landlords said they need to take to improve their property’s EPC rating were:

  • Fit traditional insulation (37%)
  • Upgrade the boiler (25%)
  • Upgrade existing utilities (24%).

Once you understand which steps will improve the EPC rating of your property, ask local tradesmen for quotes for the work. Make sure these are transparent and will lead to the improvements you need so you can assess if undertaking the work makes financial sense for you. 

An eco-friendly property could lower your mortgage costs too

A property with a better EPC rating can ensure you meet legal requirements and avoid potential fines. Did you know it could also lower your mortgage costs?

A growing number of banks and building societies will offer landlords a lower interest rate if their home is more energy-efficient.

Green mortgages may offer lower interest rates, as they are viewed as more valuable to prospective buyers and renters who would benefit from lower energy bills. You will usually need an EPC rating of A or B to qualify for a green mortgage. 

If you’re looking for an eco-property to let out or are carrying out work to improve a property, reviewing green mortgages could help you get more out of your investment. Please contact us to discuss your mortgage needs.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

Some buy-to-let mortgages are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

A woman holding a takeaway cup of coffee.

Over the last two years, investors have experienced a lot of volatility. If you’ve been tempted to change long-term plans, data can highlight why you shouldn’t panic.

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, markets fell sharply, and investors continued to experience volatility as the situation and restrictions changed. Just as things were slowly getting back to “normal”, tensions with Russia began to rise and stock markets reacted strongly when Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Seeing the value of your investments fall can be nerve-racking, so much so that you may be tempted to make withdrawals or changes to your portfolio.

While there are times when it may be appropriate to change your investments, changes should reflect your personal circumstances. They shouldn’t be a knee-jerk reaction to periods of volatility.

Tuning out the noise and looking at long-term investment trends can be easier said than done. So, these three pieces of data can help you see why, in most cases, sticking to your investment strategy is the best option.

1. Stock market risk falls the longer you invest

All investments carry some level of risk, and the value of your investments can fall.

However, over the long term, the ups and downs of investment markets can smooth out. This means that the longer you invest, the less risk there is that you will lose money when you look at the long-term outcomes. This is why you should invest for a minimum of five years. The below graph shows how the risk of losing money overall falls when you invest for a longer period. This compares to holding cash, which can lose value in real terms as the cost of living rises, which interest rates are unlikely to keep up with.

Source: Schroders

So, while you may think about withdrawing your money amid volatility, leaving your money invested could reduce the risk of your portfolio falling in value.

Your investments should reflect your risk profile, which considers several factors, such as your goals and capacity for loss.

2. Markets have historically bounced back

When you’re experiencing volatility, it can seem like a one-off event. Yet, if you look back over the years, you’ll see there are often events that can seem like reasons not to invest or to change your investment strategy.

In the last decade alone, there’s been the Brexit vote, Trump’s inauguration, trade wars, and protests in Hong Kong.

During these periods, your investments may have fallen in value. Yet, if you review the long-term trend, markets have historically bounced back and gone on to deliver returns. The graph below highlights how negative world events can cause stock markets to fall.

Source: Bloomberg, Humans Under Management. Returns are based on the MSCI World price index from 1988 and do not include dividends. For illustrative purposes only.

While there have been sharp falls, the general trend of stock markets has been upwards over the last 30 years.

Data from Schroders shows that stock market corrections, where there is a 10% drop, are not as rare as you might think either. The US market has fallen by at least 10% in 28 of the last 50 calendar years. Yet even with these dips, the market has returned 11% a year over the last 50 years on average.

3. Trying to time the market could cost you money

As stocks rise and fall, it can be tempting to try and time the market.

Everyone wants to buy stocks at a low price and sell them when the value is high. But it’s incredibly difficult to consistently predict how the markets will change.

Even if you miss out on just a handful of the best performing days of the market, you could lose out. The below table shows the returns from an investment of £1,000 between 1986 and 2021 based on leaving your money invested and missing some of the best days.

Source: Schroders

If you had invested in the FTSE 250, missing just the 30 best days over these 35 years would cost you almost £33,000.

The findings highlight why “it’s time in the market, not timing the market” is a common saying when investing. Staying the course and having faith in your long-term investment strategy makes sense for most investors.

Creating an investment strategy that’s right for you

The above graphs and table highlight why you shouldn’t panic when investment markets experience volatility.

That being said, it’s important to remember that investment performance cannot be guaranteed, and that past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

Building an investment portfolio that reflects your goals and takes an appropriate amount of risk is crucial. If you’d like to talk about investing, whether you have concerns about market volatility or want to start a portfolio, please contact us.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

A smiling couple going through paperwork together.

How often do you talk about money with your partner? The way money is handled in a relationship can sometimes make or break a couple, and research suggests it’s something many people struggle with.

According to a survey from Royal London, 62% of couples in the UK say they have argued with their partner about money. The most common reason is that one partner is deemed to be “spending too much”.

While disagreements are part of every relationship, a worrying third of couples say they’re incompatible with their partner when it comes to spending and saving. And a quarter considers their partner to be irresponsible with money.

How you handle finances now affects your long-term plans, so finding a way to create financial harmony as a couple is important. It can not only reduce arguments but mean you’re both working towards the same goals.

If money decisions can cause some friction in your relationship, here are seven tips that could help.

1. Make money topics a part of your normal conversation

Despite money playing a huge role in your life, the research found that couples often find it difficult to talk about finances.

Making money topics part of the conversation in your home is an important first step. Sometimes, disagreements may occur due to a misunderstanding that being more open can solve. In other cases, a conversation can help you understand your partner’s view so you can minimise financial challenges.

2. Be open about your financial situation

If you currently keep your finances largely separate from your partner, they may not be aware of your situation, and vice-versa.

Being open about debt, outgoings, and other areas of finance can mean you’re both in a better position to understand the financial decisions being made. It can also give you an insight into how your partner views money and where your differences may lie.

Understanding your partner’s financial situation is particularly important if you’ll be making a financial commitment with them, such as opening a joint account or taking out a mortgage.

3. Create a joint household budget

If you share household expenses, understanding how they will be split and what they will cover is important.

For some couples, simply splitting expenses 50-50 makes sense. For others, taking income differences into account may be better suited.

What’s important is that you find an option that works for you and create a plan that matches your needs. This may mean depositing a set amount into a joint account every month or each of you taking responsibility for different outgoings.

4. Give yourself and your partner a discretionary budget

How your partner spends money can be a cause of conflict, especially if you don’t agree with their purchases. If this is something you argue about within your relationship, giving yourself and your partner a set budget to use however you like can avoid this.

It means you can both indulge in what’s important to you while knowing that you’ll still be on track to cover essentials and other financial goals you may have.

5. Set out clear saving and investing goals

With a day-to-day budget organised, it’s time to start thinking about other goals you may want to set aside money for. This could be to buy a house, start a family, go on holiday, or build a financial safety net.

Having clear saving or investing goals means you’re both working towards the same things.

Knowing that you both need to put money away at the beginning of the month means you know where you stand, and it can minimise arguments.

6. Don’t overlook long-term goals

Saving goals looking ahead for the next few years are important, as are ones that will affect your life in several decades.

The sooner you start thinking about areas like retirement planning, even if it seems a long time away, the more manageable your goals will be.

If you haven’t discussed how much you and your partner are putting away in your pension each month, for example, it can be difficult to calculate if you’re on track for a financially secure future as a couple.

So, when setting out a budget and what you want your future to look like, don’t put off long-term planning.

7. Work with a financial planner

Balancing different goals and views on money can be a challenge. By working with a financial planner, you can create a plan that you can both have confidence in and incorporates both of your aspirations to provide long-term security.

The financial planning process can help make sure you’re both on the same page, from discussing what your long-term goals are to reviewing your risk profile when investing. These steps can mean your financial decisions reflect what you both want from life with a clear blueprint to follow.

If you’d like to arrange a meeting with us, please contact us.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

A couple walking a dog in the countryside.

Individuals aged between 40 and 60 – dubbed “midlifers” – are facing time and financial pressures as they try to support their families. Many are feeling the strain and don’t have the resources to focus on their own goals, and financial planning could help.

According to a survey from Legal & General, 6 million midlifers are finding themselves caught in the middle of providing financial support to adult children and providing unpaid care to ageing relatives. On top of this, it’s a crucial period for securing their own financial future and retirement.

The research found 17% of midlifers provide financial support to another adult, totalling £10 billion a year.

  • Those supporting grown-up children provide, on average, £247 a month.
  • Midlifers financially helping elderly parents or other relatives spend, on average, £282 a month.

The findings suggest that at age 45, you’re likely to have the greatest level of financial responsibility, while age 58 is when you’re most likely to start taking on some care responsibilities.

It’s natural to want to lend support to your loved ones, but it can harm your own lifestyle and long-term goals. While retirement can seem a long way off when you turn 40, it’s an important milestone to start thinking about. The steps you take now could affect the lifestyle you enjoy in your later years.

10% of midlifers feel the level of support they provide is unsustainable

The research worryingly found that 10% of midlifers feel that the support they provide is already unsustainable. If you’re supporting loved ones, a financial plan can help make it part of your budget and balance the support with other priorities.

If you’re neglecting your pension or other steps that could improve your long-term financial wellbeing, financial planning can help highlight potential challenges in the future and show you how to reduce risks. It means you’re in a better position to meet the demands you’re facing now and still secure your future.

It can also help you make decisions about the financial support you’re offering.

For instance, if you’re helping adult children with rental costs, would providing a lump sum to act as a house deposit make more sense? It could reduce their outgoings overall and provide long-term stability. It’s an option you may have dismissed or not even considered, but we can help you review your finances to see if it’s right for you.

If you’re struggling to provide care for a loved one, paying for some professional support can also make sense. This doesn’t have to mean a care home but could be someone that checks in with them every day. It can relieve some of the pressure you may be feeling while still ensuring your loved one is getting the additional support they need.

A financial plan can help you confidently support the people who are important to you.

19% of midlifers spend no time on their own financial wellbeing

As well as having a direct effect on expenses and how your money is used, supporting others can reduce the amount of time you have to organise your own life.

25% of people aged between 40 and 60 said they get less than an hour to themselves in the average day. Almost a fifth (19%) said they have no time to spend on their own financial wellbeing.

Financial planning doesn’t just provide you with a plan to reach your long-term goals. It can help you make the most of your time and reduce how much admin you need to do to stay on track.

As your financial planner, we can provide you with confidence in your financial future and set regular reviews, so you don’t have to worry about how your pension is performing or whether you have adequate financial protection day-to-day. This step means you can focus on what’s important now while knowing that your long-term financial wellbeing is secure.

Financial planning can help you get the most out of your money and time. Please contact us to arrange a meeting. 

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

A mature couple enjoying the view of an ancient amphitheatre.

If you’re nearing retirement, you may be starting to think about planning the next stage of your life.

What steps spring to mind? You may prioritise organising your pension, claiming your State Pension, or reviewing how much you have in a savings account. These steps are important for creating security, yet good retirement planning goes further than your finances.

So, what should retirement planning include? Setting out lifestyle goals is crucial for building a retirement plan that means you get the most out of your life.

Here are five questions that you should think about as you approach retirement. They can also help you get the most out of the financial planning process by ensuring your aspirations are at the heart of any decisions you make.

1. What are you looking forward to in retirement?

If you’re nearing retirement, you may be excited about the next stage of your life. Setting out what it is you’re looking forward to can help you make decisions that are right for you.

According to the Great British Retirement Survey from interactive investor, 49% of people that haven’t yet retired are looking forward to greater freedom and 42% see retirement as an opportunity for a new business or hobbies.

3 in 10 people still working think their life will improve when they retire. Pinpointing what it is that will make retirement an exciting milestone for you is crucial.

2. How will you fill your days when you retire?

While you may have big plans for your retirement, it can be easy to overlook the day-to-day when you set out your lifestyle.

Going from working full-time to having freedom can be overwhelming at first. Some retirees can find they don’t know how to fill their days initially and you may need a period of adjustment. By setting out how you’d like to spend your time before you retire, you can start building a retirement lifestyle that you find fulfilling.

3. What will give you purpose in retirement?

Much like filling your days, retiring can pose a challenge for some retirees if they feel like they’ve lost their purpose and drive when giving up work.

According to an Aegon report, just 4 in 10 people think about what gives their life joy and purpose.

Considering your driving force is a useful exercise at any point in your life and reviewing this as you retire is an important task.

4. How will you maintain social connections in retirement?

Work can play a pivotal role in your social life. So, when you retire, it can leave a gap.

Thinking about how you’ll maintain or create new social connections can improve your retirement lifestyle. That may mean making sure you stay in touch with family and friends or planning ways to get out of the house to meet new people, like joining a club that interests you.

Research from the National Institute for Health Research found that 1 in 3 people aged 50 years and over in the UK report feeling lonely. A lack of social connections can harm your mental health and has been linked to depression, so your social life in retirement is vital for your overall wellbeing and happiness.

5. Do you have any concerns about retirement?

While you may be looking forward to retirement, it’s natural to have some concerns too.

From worries about your finances to being anxious about the lifestyle change, thinking about your concerns is as important as setting out what you’re looking forward to.

It means you can address any worries that you have and put a plan in place to deal with them. By being proactive, you can really focus on enjoying your retirement to the fullest.

Using your lifestyle goals to shape your financial decisions

Lifestyle aspirations play a crucial role in effective retirement planning, but getting to grips with the finances remains important.

Having a clear idea about what you want to get out of retirement can help shape your financial decisions so they reflect your priorities.

If you want to see more of the world when you initially retire, taking a larger income from your pension during the first few years could make sense. Or if you hope to make workshops, classes, and hobbies a regular part of your schedule, including these costs in your budget can ensure you’re able to fill your days how you want.

By combining lifestyle and finances when you’re retirement planning, you can have confidence in the decisions you make. Please contact us to discuss your retirement and the lifestyle you’re looking forward to.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

What is your job role?

Financial Planner and Director of Co-Navigate

Who is your favourite author?

If I’m reading to switch off then I love a Lee Child or Michael Connelly book. I have just recently read Power of Geography and Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall which are fascinating books, especially in light of current events in Ukraine.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I don’t like this question at all, as I’m such a foodie and I love variety! My favourite meal of the year though is Christmas dinner with all of the trimmings, so let’s say that. I don’t think I’d ever get bored of pigs in blankets.

Apart from your own jokes, what makes you laugh the most?

A good comedian. I love attending live stand-up shows and have been fortunate to see Billy Connelly twice, and he is the godfather of comedy.

What is your favourite family tradition?

Going for a family walk on a Sunday morning in the countryside. We have an elderly neighbour who has a border collie that we started walking at the beginning of lockdown to help him out. We’ve kept on doing that and it’s a great excuse to get the kids out of the house in the morning and get some fresh air.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Definitely starting Co-Navigate. There were some real hurdles we had to jump over initially, but to see where we are today and to look back and see how far we’ve come is phenomenal. I get really excited when we discuss where we want the business to go and how we’re going to achieve it, so there’s still lots of hard work ahead.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

This is going to sound like a cliché, but helping clients achieve their life goals. When someone initially comes to us for advice they are generally expecting help with pensions and investments, but through a process of discovery and ongoing meetings we discover what they really want out of life and ensure their pensions and investments are aligned to those outcomes. To be able to put a plan into place that helps to get them there is literally life changing for them; how can I not enjoy that?

What is something you find challenging about your work?

Technology. I absolutely love tech when it works and helps our clients and Co-Navigate operate more efficiently, and as such I’m always on the lookout for new developments. However, no one piece of software can solve all of the problems, so you end up with different suppliers of tech doing different things, and getting them to talk to each other seamlessly is a constant frustration. It’s like an impossible jigsaw at times.