Person receives financial planning advice

From time to time, we get asked why people should be pay fees for financial planning advice. To be honest, it baffles me why people should expect a financial adviser to offer free services.

I believe that this is due to many misconceptions, and here just a few:

  • We are paid a commission by the companies that we advise you to invest in
  • Banks offer free ‘advice’ so why shouldn’t everyone?
  • There’s so much information online, freely available knowledge doesn’t require paying for

All of these assumptions are myths, and as the saying goes, ‘there’s nothing more expensive than free advice’.

Financial advice and fees

Independent financial advisers and planners charge fees and are only allowed to receive commission from insurance and mortgage providers.

As you’d expect we must have professional qualifications. In addition, we must continuously evidence ongoing study in the form of continuing professional development (CPD) to our professional body. This all makes sense, as you certainly wouldn’t trust your retirement to someone who doesn’t have any relevant qualifications!

All financial advisers must also have a Statement of Professional Standing (SPS). This is applied for each year to allow us to be able to give regulated financial advice. To apply we must evidence a minimum of 35 hours CPD for that year.

Financial planners start as trainees and work alongside experienced advisers for a set period. During that time, they must study outside working hours to pass examinations and coursework. Once trained, we undergo annual testing to ensure that our knowledge is continuously up to date.

Our knowledge and understanding of finance are why you pay fees. In in that respect we are no different than a solicitor or an accountant; you are paying for experienced advice.

Be held accountable

Our clients are also paying us to hold them accountable to their financial plans. We help stop them making rash decisions which could scupper their plan. We also keep them calm in times of trouble.

It is by doing this that we are confident our clients will be better off financially in the long term. As a consequence be able to make better and more informed lifestyle decisions.

We love working with our clients, and seeing them achieve their goals is priceless. But for us to delve into your finances and get to know you and what you want to achieve takes time. It also requires effort and hard work from our whole team.

Independent financial planning

When choosing a financial planner, find out what service they offer first. Is it full holistic financial planning or simply product advice? Ask them what their services will do for you. It is also important to ask them if they can offer independent advice or restricted advice. Restricted advisers are nearly always tied to a single provider such as a bank.

In my experience, this generally means they are less concerned about your ongoing costs and more concerned with selling you something.

Co-Navigate’s financial planners are exactly that, planners. We will only recommend a regulated financial product if it is necessary to be able to carry out your financial plan. We are also independent, meaning when we do make a product recommendation, we are doing so having researched the entire marketplace on your behalf.

After our initial discovery meeting which we provide at our own expense, and assuming we both agree to work together, we spend hours building a picture of your finances and linking them with your goals. And once in place, we regularly meet our clients to review their financial plan and adapt it where necessary.

Banks and ‘advice’

I believe part of the confusion is due to people historically visiting a bank or building society for ‘advice’. A phone call from the bank manager asking to see you used to be quite a daunting thing. Invariably, most people accepted the invitation. Having been ‘on the other side’, I now know that this has been a good sales tactic by the banks. As a result, they were able to get in front of their customers and sell them more products.

They may listen to you, but they will not provide a financial plan that helps you achieve your goals. Instead, they will give you the information about their products and then it’s up to you to assess which product meets your needs. But none of this has anything to do with financial planning and everything to do with buying a financial product.

Online financial planning ‘advice’

If you Google ‘best pensions’ or ‘best investments’ you will get a lot of information. This may be useful for signposting, but is so generic that it can never be called ‘advice’.

Everyone’s situation is different, particularly when it comes to finances. Your financial goals will be as individual as you are, so general information is not always helpful and can sometimes even be harmful, costing you much more in the long run.

Most people looking for help with their finances recognise that they must pay their adviser for their time and expertise, and that financial planning is much more than simply choosing a pension. I hope that this brief overview shows you why it’s money well spent.

To speak to us about our financial planning advice services, contact us today. You can also contact our Newcastle office on 0191 228 6130.

This year has been like no other and the mortgage market, as expected, has been impacted by the Covid pandemic.

Although house prices climbed to record highs during 2020, the volume of mortgage transactions fell. Lenders also became more risk averse and fewer borrowers withdrew equity from their homes.

So, what are the main changes for the mortgage market?

Fewer mortgages

There was an unprecedented decline in the range of mortgage products available during the lengthy first UK lockdown. Such low numbers have not been seen since the financial crisis of 2007.

In February 2020, deals with a loan to value above 90% represented 10% of the UK’s residential mortgage market. By June, these had fallen to fewer than two per cent. Buyers became sceptical, nervous and unsure about their futures. Unemployment has become a real threat for lots of people and this had an impact on the mortgage market.

Fewer borrowers

The number of mortgages agreed fell significantly during the lockdown crisis; but it is now edging slowly back up. In January this year, the number of people securing a mortgage was 16% higher than in January 2019. But by April, figures were 54% down on the previous month a year earlier. It was picking back up again in June, but still below the trend of previous years.

It is thought that the rebound was due to the increase in demand at the end of lockdown, as the market almost completely froze in the early stages. The lockdown has meant many out-of-town homes with more outside space have become very popular as people worry about future lockdowns. City dwellers appear to be heading out into suburbs and smaller towns and villages.

Remortgaging

The remortgage market wasn’t hit quite as hard as the rest of the mortgage market. The pace of remortgaging certainly took a hit, but figures remain fairly consistent with the patterns of the last five years.

Those remortgaging are typically established homeowners with lots of equity in their properties. This suggests that the market was much kinder to the older generation, but the younger first-time buyers still had a mountain to climb.

What’s next?

There are signs that the market is bouncing back and starting to recover. The second lockdown restrictions are easing a little, and people are regaining some confidence to mix with others. There’s also more economic stability, although many industries and sectors are still at risk of mass job losses. This will become more apparent once the furlough scheme finally ends next year.

Mortgage products have reduced, and costs have continued to rise, so first-time buyers and those with limited savings have fewer options than they did prior to lockdown.

While house prices continue to rise, it remains to be seen what the next six months look like for the mortgage market. Many are expecting to see a boom as restrictions continue to ease, especially in light of news about three potential vaccines becoming available.

Either way, the mortgage market is a fluid landscape at the moment. The mortgage and housing market is always subject to change, but we always scrutinise what is happening so we can give the best advice.

If you need help with your mortgage or remortgage, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Boy checks finances and Child Trust Fund

If you have a child or children reaching the age of 18 between now and 2029 their Child Trust Funds (CTFs) are due to mature.

The CTFs are tax-free savings accounts given to 6 million children born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011. Anyone reaching the age of 18 in the next 8 years or so could access up to £1,000 if parents made contributions.

You may have forgotten about your child’s CTFs, especially if you didn’t make any contributions. Our guide about Child Trust Funds will help your child access their funds, and we’ll offer hints and tips about what to do with the cash.

What are Child Trust Funds?

Set up by the Blair government, CTFs encouraged parents to save for their children’s futures. The aim was that the cash could help with future costs, such as further education funding.

Initially, the government gave £250 into the tax-free account during a child’s first year. A further £250 was paid in when children reached the age of 7. The payments were £500 for low-income families.

Parents, family and friends are still able to contribute to the account to top it up to a maximum of £9,000 per year. New CTF accounts were eventually scrapped in January 2011.

How they work

When they mature, CTFs become adult ISAs and retain their tax advantages. While children legally take responsibility from the age of 16, they cannot access the money until they are 18.

Parents or guardians were sent vouchers by HMRC for each child to set up a CTF account in the child’s name. Three accounts were opened:

  • Cash Child Trust Fund: This allowed parents to make deposits just like a bank account to earn tax-free interest.
  • Stakeholder Child Trust Fund: Savings are put into a mix of stock market investments with rules to reduce financial risk. They are charged based on the value of the fund and capped at a charge of 1.5% a year. If parents forgot to use the payment voucher within 12 months, HMRC opened one of these accounts.
  • Share-based Child Trust Fund: Most if not all the cash in this account is invested in shares without protection.

Each year, around 800,000 teenagers will gain control of their CTFs, and while the temptation might be to spend, research shows that teenagers would prefer to invest or save their money.

Finding lost Child Trust Funds

Around 2 million Child Trust Funds are estimated to have been lost by families, especially if HMRC set up the account. Don’t worry, because the funds are easy to find.

To find a fund, visit www.gov.uk/child-trust-funds and fill in the form, as this tells HMRC which account was originally opened. You will need a Government Gateway ID and password, which is fairly simple to set up. Once HMRC locates the details of the CTF provider, they will contact you with information by post within 3 weeks of your request.

What to do next

When your child reaches their 18th birthday, they have a number of choices:

  • Withdraw the money and spend it, perhaps using it to help fund a new car or a house deposit.
  • Convert it into an ISA (Individual Savings Account) to maintain the savings for a future purpose.
  • Use it to open a Lifetime ISA (limits apply) which can provide a 25% government bonus for use towards buying their first home.

Co-Navigate clients who have children or grandchildren can always ask us for help or guidance on the options available.

Saltwell 10 Road Race Runners Co-Navigate Newcastle Financial Advisers

Supporting local events is something we love to do at Co-Navigate. It’s all part of our mission to give! Whether it’s giving something back to our community or giving advice to clients so they realise their goals and dreams.

There is no doubt that this year has been very strange for us all. Events and plans have had to be put on hold across the UK. But looking forward is also part of our ethos! With that in mind, we are delighted to announce that we are sponsoring two local causes within our community.

First of all, we are sponsoring the Whickham Fellside Youth Football Club’s Under 10 Girls team. This is their inaugural year in the Russell Foster League, and we wish them the very best of luck. We all love footy at Co-Navigate and are keen to promote the growing interest in the girls’ game.

As well as football, some members of the team love running. In fact, our Director and Mortgage & Protection Adviser, Lyndsey, runs with and is a coach at Saltwell Harriers.

So we are delighted to announce that we are sponsoring next year’s Saltwell 10K Road Race.

As England’s oldest road race, the three-lap race around Saltwell Park is a traffic-free route that ends at the Lake. This year’s race has been cancelled, sadly, but we are excited to be involved again next year.

We will keep you up to date about when the 2021 Saltwell 10K Road Race is taking place. Until then, please visit the website saltwellharriers.org.uk for the latest news.

Dan Bullen from Newcastle Financial Adviser firm Co-Navigate

Name

Dan Bullen

What is your position at Co-Navigate?

Financial Planning Assistant

When did you start work at Co-Navigate?

July 2017

What was your experience before working here?

I moved to Co-Navigate straight after school after completing my A-levels at Berwick Academy and heard about the job. I started working with Lyndsey in the mortgage side of the business. 

What attracted you to Co-Navigate?

At the time it seemed like the right place. As I was living in Berwick and when you’re from there you can either go to Edinburgh or Newcastle for work as they’re about an hour away. I was looking for an apprenticeship and I met the directors and they seemed really nice.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I get to work with some very interesting people both as colleagues and as clients. You get to hear about all sorts of things: where they have been, what they want to do in the future and being part of that is a fantastic.

Favourite colour

Green

Favourite music

I tend to listen to radio. I usually listen to Radio 1, although I’m a fan of Coldplay.

Hobbies and interests

My big hobby is golf. I’m a 3 handicap and at the moment I play about 5 times a week. It’s pretty much what I do outside of work. I have won 3 times this year, since lockdown. I play in individual events and have been playing for a while. But I have only been playing competitively for just over a year. This summer I was going to start playing in team events and leagues, but because of lockdown that hasn’t happened yet. I’m also a big football fan and support Glasgow Celtic. I used to play but I don’t do that anymore.

If you would like to read about our other team check out our news page. Contact us today and you might even get to talk to Dan.

Fiona Richardson from Co-Navigate, Newcastle Financial Adviser company in Gosforth

Name

Fiona Richardson

What is your position at Co-Navigate?

Mortgage and Protection Assistant

When did you start work at Co-Navigate?

May 2019

What was your experience before working here?

I hadn’t been in financial services before. My job before I came here was at an asbestos company. I was there for 2 years working on projects and arranging surveyors to test for asbestos in buildings. It was very different to being here!

What attracted you to Co-Navigate?

There was a job advertisement for the position on Facebook. When I spotted it and read about what was needed I thought, ‘That sounds like me!’ I contacted Lyndsey and I was successful.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I like that every day is different and everything is fast-paced and it keeps me on my toes. I love working here because everyone is so caring and they look out for each other.

Favourite colour

Purple

Favourite music

I love music from musicals. My favourite musical is Wicked.

Hobbies and interests

I play volleyball once a week in a local league and I like cycling. It is electrical but there are a lot of hills around where I live.

If you enjoyed meeting Fiona, why not meet the rest of our team…

Brenda Bailey from Co-Navigate

Name
Brenda Bailey

What is your position at Co-Navigate?
Financial Planning Assistant

When did you start work at Co-Navigate?
April 2019

What was your experience before working here?
I started in financial planning in 2001, so I have 19 years of experience. At the start, I was a part-time administrator in a financial planners and chartered accountants. I then worked for a large North East financial firm in 2008 as a financial planning administrator. During my time there I became a team leader in 2015 and left in April 2019 to join Co-Navigate.

Before financial services I was an administrator at a builder’s merchant. I then became a medical secretary at a local hospital before I took four years off to look after my two daughters. As they were growing up I worked at a local supermarket part-time then moved into financial services.

What do you enjoy about your job?
The main thing I enjoy is working for a great team. Our clients are our main priority, and I enjoy working with all the team to ensure the client’s journey goes really well. I love the fact you are always learning and putting it into practice. And I love the variety as no two clients are the same.

During lockdown I’ve missed the interaction with the rest of the team and our clients. But the safety of our clients and ourselves is the priority.

Favourite colour
Red

Favourite music
I like a mixed range of music but mainly rock, such as Def Leppard and Iron Maiden.

Hobbies and interests
Keeping fit is a hobby and I run twice a week although I’m a fair-weather runner. I like going to rock concerts and real ale and enjoying going to the occasional beer festival. I love socialising with my family and that is what I’ve missed most during lockdown.

Don’t miss interviews with our directors

Couple with family considering inheritance and estate planning

Don’t leave it too late

Inheritance is an emotive subject and is likely to come into focus over the next 12-18 months as the Chancellor looks to raise money for the Treasury.

The coronavirus pandemic has cost the government billions. The Office for Budget Responsibility says it could be as much as £298 billion! Such reports are focusing some people’s attention to think strategically about how they will pass their wealth to the next generation, especially if tax relief is in the Chancellor’s sights.

There has been a rise in people gifting assets to family members, a report in the Financial Times claims. It says due to the pandemic, people are not hanging onto savings and investments in case tax relief is cut.

Make a plan

It is a shame that some people are only thinking about their inheritance and financial future in light of a major event. Our advice to clients is that they should enjoy passing on their wealth while they’re able to witness its impact.

Similarly, you don’t want to give away assets without ensuring you have enough to live your own desired lifestyle. A perfect financial plan would mean leaving £5 in your bank account on the day you die, having spent it yourself enjoying life, or seeing the good it can do for others.

That isn’t as heartless as it sounds! You see, without correct inheritance and estate planning, you may hand your loved ones a large tax bill that eats into the wealth you created. And who wants that?

Don’t wait

Waiting for the Chancellor to make a decision on his future may affect yours, so don’t wait. If inheritance tax changes, especially the ‘seven-year rule’ that allows sums to be given away tax free is reduced or removed, then you may regret waiting.

Your financial plan is as distinct as a fingerprint, and we treat your circumstances individually. It’s why we don’t have a catch-all line about advice on family trusts, investments or pensions. It depends on your own personal financial circumstances and what you want to happen.

Inheritance and estate planning advice

If you want more information about financial planning, contact us today on 0191 2286130 or email enquiries@co-navigate.co.uk. We can speak to you about your financial goals over the phone or via an online ‘face-to-face’ meeting if you prefer.

This is Jamie Bogle, Co-Navigate's Financial Planner, Co-owner and Director

The final interview with our directors is with Jamie Bogle. He is Co-owner of Co-Navigate along with fellow founder Andy Mathers. After lots of experience in finance, he now enjoys the fact he can shape his own destiny as a business owner.

Name

Jamie Bogle

What is your position at Co-Navigate?

Financial Planner, Co-owner and Director

Why did you choose a career in financial services?

I always wanted to work in finance. At university, I did a law degree, but I always knew I’d work in finance in some capacity. I worked for Barclays before I went to university as a cashier and got summer placements there while at university. I liked the finance side but mainly talking to customers and helping them with their money, that’s what I really enjoyed.

What is your experience?

After university, I worked in London for HMRC in employer compliance, but I didn’t enjoy working in the civil service with its mentality. I found it frustrating! From there, I saw a graduate financial adviser trainee position with the Co-operative Insurance Society (CIS), and I successfully applied. I looked after both insurance and financial advice. Again, I really enjoyed talking to people and trying to help them, I just didn’t enjoy the pressures of having sales targets. From there, I moved on to be a mortgage adviser at my uncle’s firm. That was also my first taste of self-employment. I worked there for 7 years, first as a mortgage adviser and then as a financial adviser. Then I spent 4 years working as an IFA (independent financial adviser) with a national firm, and it was during this time when I worked with Andy that I realised there is much more to financial advice than simply selling products. I wanted to help clients with their financial decisions and use more complex cash flow forecasting tools. We couldn’t do that where we were, so Andy and I decided to launch our own independent business, Co-Navigate, in order to help serve our clients better and design our own processes for delivering financial planning advice. I’ve been in finance for nearly 20 years now, and the time has gone quickly!

What do you enjoy about your job?

I really enjoy seeing clients! There is a lot of paperwork and reports to write, unfortunately, but meeting clients is what makes this job so enjoyable. During lockdown it has been more difficult because you’re just seeing them virtually rather than face-to-face and I really miss that. However, seeing clients embracing technology has been really helpful so we can continue to serve them. I also love having my own business as it allows me to be in charge of shaping my own destiny.

What key advice would you offer to a potential client to Co-Navigate?

Always invest according to a plan and don’t worry about short-term events that will inevitably try and get in the way. Just don’t get distracted from the plan.

Favourite colour

Red.

Favourite music

I’ve got a very broad taste but my favourite musician is Ludovico Einaudi. I’m also a big fan of Amy Macdonald and Kate Rusby.

Hobbies and interests

It’s got to be football. I love playing it, especially my weekly five-a-side. I’m also a season ticket holder at (dare I say it) Sunderland and go there with my daughters. I also enjoy cycling and quite often ride into work and back.

Lyndsey Stephenson Mortgage Adviser Co-Navigate Newcastle

In our last blog, we met Andy Mathers. Now, we introduce our Mortgage & Protection Adviser, Lyndsey, and discover how helping her Dad as a teenager helped her put her foot on the career ladder of financial services…

Name

Lyndsey Stephenson

What is your position at Co-Navigate?

Mortgage & Protection Adviser and Director

Why did you choose a career in financial services?

My Dad was a Financial Adviser and I grew up knowing finance as a natural part of life. I started at a young age helping out my dad in his business with basic office tasks, etc.  I then went on to help a few other financial advisers in their businesses. By going into a shared office from my teenage years and doing admin tasks for pocket money, such as filing and shredding, I got to know about what goes on behind the scenes in finance. When I went to college, I started working for another adviser as his main administrator part-time. I got used to chasing mortgages and speaking to advisers and everything that goes on, basically everything except advising. Leaving University, it seemed an obvious choice to go into financial services as I already had the background and experience.  

What is your experience?

I became an adviser in 2004 and ultimately, I’d say 5 or 6 years prior to that I was working in the field doing admin work.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The best thing for me is I get to be part of a really important part of people’s lives – their home.  I get to help people move into their dream home and that’s a really powerful thing to be part of. The fun bit is helping people get to where they want to be.  And I get to meet such lovely people every day. 

What key advice would you offer to a potential client to Co-Navigate?

Look at everything with an open mind. A lot of people have a pre-conceived idea about what a financial adviser is or should be. At Co-Navigate, we’re very different to other financial advisers; we want to build relationships with people and help them get to where they want to be rather than being transaction focused.

Favourite colour

Navy blue.

Favourite music

I’m a big fan of 80s music and could listen to it all day long. And I also like 90s pop and rock when I am running. I’m a big fan of easy listening at the weekend.

Hobbies and interests

I am a big fan of keeping fit. My husband is a qualified fitness instructor, so exercise is a big thing for us as a family. I do a lot of running, circuit training and cycling. I love spending time with family and friends, and I have really missed it during lockdown.