Tag Archive for: Financial planning advice Newcastle

Couple setting financial goals

A new year is a good time to assess your goals, whether that’s fitness, career or finances. When it comes to financial goals, consider the long-term as well as the next 12 months.

But if the start of a year is your catalyst to getting your financial house in order, our advice is get a plan in place today. Don’t leave it until tomorrow because tomorrow never comes, and you risk another year passing by without anything being done.

We know everyone has different goals and ambitions, so our tips are a useful starting point. Just remember that your financial plan is as individual as you!

Time to budget

Budgeting sounds like a very obvious place to start a financial plan. If you have no idea how much money is coming into and out of your bank account, you will find planning finances impossible.

Some people earn a good income but struggle with money because they have no budget in place. Managing your money properly gives you the ability to enjoy what you earn without over-spending and using credit excessively.

A monthly budget should include what money is coming in as well as what goes out. So write down what you are spending each month: food bills, mobile phone, utilities, mortgage, memberships, car costs etc.

There’s no point asking a financial planner to help you achieve your goals until you have an idea of your monthly budget. At a discovery meeting, a financial planner wants to know what you need to live each month, so now is the time to work it out!

Budget goals:
  • Set up a monthly budget and stick to it
  • Reduce unnecessary spending
  • Assess your budget regularly

Control your debt

When unexpected events happen, it is all too easy to grab your credit card. But debt has a nasty habit of increasing more quickly than you expect thanks to high interest rates.

Being debt free may sound like nothing more than a dream to you at the moment, but with proper financial planning it is possible. Start by setting up a repayment plan and make a commitment to stick to it; make sure you repay the most expensive debt first.

Reduce spending on treats to pay off your debt. Look at switching your credit card to one offering 0% on balance transfers. Some cards offer 0% on balance transfers for 2 years or more. This means you won’t be paying interest on top of what you owe.

Just make sure you pay more than the minimum and work out how long it will take you to repay the debt in full. In some cases, even taking a personal loan to consolidate debt can be a sensible idea, as your debt will be set to a structured repayment schedule. Just make sure you shop around for the best interest rates!

Debt goals:
  • Reduce discretionary spending where possible
  • Sell any unwanted items (such as old mobiles)
  • Have a plan in place to repay debt, starting with the most expensive debt first.

Save some money

There is one thing to learn from the past year, and that is unexpected events happen! Saving for a rainy day sounds like an old adage, but it is a very wise one.

No-one knows when they will need a few extra pounds to get them through a tricky time. Bank savings accounts are not the place to give you good, long-term returns, so don’t use them for a retirement nest egg. Having savings available for an emergency, however, is better than reaching for a credit card.

Sacrificing a few takeaways (or meals out when you eventually can) will really pay off when you need some extra cash.

Saving goals:
  • Reduce your grocery and takeaway bills
  • Find ways to save on utilities
  • Set a monthly savings goal
  • Start with short-term financial goals and work to long-term ones

Start investing

Investing allows your money to grow over time in a way that savings accounts cannot offer. Choosing to invest can be useful for long-term goals, as history shows that your money is likely to grow over time.

At Co-Navigate, we will look at your individual circumstances before suggesting if and what you should invest in. As well as the money you may wish to invest, we will consider your individual goals.

While you can invest on your own, it is always better to speak to a financial planner. They have not only studied the subject but have a wealth of experience.

Investment goals:
  • Speak to a financial planner
  • Set long-term goals

Setting goals is an important part of financial planning. Without them you are more likely to spend money you don’t have or waste it.

Our aim is to help clients relax about finances knowing they have a plan in place to ensure that they will achieve their goals. It also ensures that their family will be all right should the worst happen. Even during tough times, such as those we are facing now, knowing you have your finances in shape is one less thing to worry about.

Contact to us today to arrange a free online discovery meeting.

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.