Wells Dementia Alliance Walk

Last month, we took part in the Wells Dementia Alliance Walk, raising money for those in the Wells community living with dementia, as well as their carers.

Despite the wet weather over 60 people turned out along with lots of dogs!

Len Sweales the Wells Town Crier gave us a great welcome and the Rt Rev Peter Hancock Diocese of Bath & Wells started the walk. We were lucky to have Mayor John Osman and Tessa Munt join us as well!

A total of £750 has been raised to date.

It’s worth remembering that dementia is not a normal part of the ageing process. But with more of us living longer lives, the diseases of the brain which cause dementia are becoming more widespread.

There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. This is forecast to soar to 2 million by 2051.

Wells Dementia Alliance Walk

South to North Dartmoor Challenge

Team members from our Bristol and Wells offices came together in June to complete the South to North Dartmoor Challenge 2019.

Ten members of the team walked 30 miles over rough terrain and undulating ground, including bogs (nobody fell in, fortunately).

On day one, we walked from Ivybridge to Princetown, staying overnight in a bunk house – thankfully it was next door to a pub!

Before setting out the next morning, we enjoyed a cracking fry-up breakfast, courtesy of Andy Weston and Neil Pinney.

On day two, we completed the challenge, walking from Princetown to Meldon.

South to North Dartmoor Challenge

In addition to the long distance covered, the hot weather added another challenge to the event, trying to avoid sunburn.

The team raised more than £1,000 which has been donated to St Margaret’s Hospice and Children’s Hospice South West.

Fond farewell

Fond farewellEarlier in the summer, we wished Arnold and Julie Wills a fond farewell from Pilgrim Financial Planning with an evening celebration in Wells.

They officially finished with the business on 30th June and, while we were sad to see them go, it was a fantastic opportunity to wish them well, along with other local professionals from the Wells community.

Arnold has been a local financial adviser for 36 years, commenting that he will be “looking forward to having more family time and time to enjoy his hobbies, particularly his music interests and travelling.”

All who know Arnold knows that he won’t be putting his feet up in retirement! He will continue to be active in the local community.

Julie is also looking forward to having more free time to develop her hobbies, now their four children have finished their schooling.

The evening was enjoyed with wine tasting at Vicars Hall, where we were also able to raise £1,000 to donate to the YMCA in Wells.

Michelle Payne, marketing manager for YMCA Mendip and South Somerset, mentioned in her thanks, “Our services are not just about providing safe accommodation for the vulnerable homeless; but also provide support, guidance, encouragement and opportunities that are so vitally important. Donations like yours mean we can carry on providing the important services we do.”

The evening was a fitting farewell and acknowledgement of Arnold and Julie’s excellent work, building Pilgrim Financial Planning over the past 24 years, as well as their commitment to the local community.

Arnold has always been passionate about providing impartial advice. He said, “I’m confident in the future of Pilgrim and that the directors and teams will continue to provide a caring and professional service.”

What prompts a meeting with a Financial Planner?

The reasons for arranging a meeting with a Financial Planner are many and varied.

Historically, we would talk about the ‘Four D’s’ as the biggest drivers of financial advice; these big four are death, debt, disease and divorce.

As morbid and miserable as these drivers were, they often gave individuals and families a reason to seek out professional advice, usually at a difficult time in life.

Thankfully, the drivers of advice seem to have moved on to encompass a much more extensive range of reasons, many of them happy and positive!

A recent example

One recent example involved a client initially wanting to explore some questions about a trust investment and her pensions. Our conversation developed into a broader conversation about what they wanted to get out of life, and culminated in the creation of a comprehensive financial plan.

She told me that there was a light-bulb moment when all of the parts of her financial plan came together; a sentiment we often hear from clients when presented with a financial plan for the first time.

An important part of the financial planning process is the creation of a lifetime cash flow forecast, which allows clients to see how different decisions or life events might influence their wealth in all stages of life. We create these forecasts using reasonable assumptions about the future, and keep them under regular review as external factors including investment returns and price inflation change over time.

When we create a financial plan for someone who needs to make important choices about their life, such as whether to give up a particular job so they can retire, or downsizing to a smaller property, the plan offers a high degree of comfort that decisions are sound.

I particularly love when the financial planning process opens eyes to the fact that clients can afford to do the things they want today. All too often, we’re scared to make big decisions because of the absence of certainty around our finances. The financial planning process introduces that certainty.

It’s especially satisfying when that certainty is originally triggered by a conversation about a small part of the financial planning world, such as a trust investment or an old pension plan.

What are some of the big current or upcoming events in your life that could prompt you to call one of our Financial Planners?

Avoiding financial scams

Financial fraud is sadly widespread. Rarely a day goes by without a mention of the latest scam in the news, or talk about unsolicited phone calls targeting vulnerable members of the local community.

These financial scams can take a number of different forms.

There’s the authorised push payment scam, where banking customers are tricked into moving money into an account controlled by the criminal.

Or courier card fraud, which involves the scammer sending a courier to collect your bank card and PIN number, which you hand over in the belief you are helping to prevent a crime.

Criminals create fake but very convincing investment companies – tricking people into thinking they are investing their money when it’s actually being stolen from them. They often call you out of the blue or advertise on social media – offering great investment opportunities that seem completely genuine.

These fraudsters can make lots of money with this type of scam, so they make the story as believable as possible: creating fake reviews, literature and brochures.

Companies are faked so well, it makes it difficult to identify a fraudulent company from a real one. The most common types of investment scams that people have become a victim of include cryptocurrency (i.e. Bitcoin), foreign exchange, bonds, shares and early pension release.

While not technically a scam, there are also several forms of investments which we consider to be such high-risk that you are very likely to lose your money. These investments sit outside of UK financial services regulation, which means you have no recourse to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), when things inevitably go wrong.

Cases that we have come across in recent years have involved investments in Offshore Property Bonds and also Storage Pods. In both instances, the brochures were very glossy, with high-quality photography and convincing words. The salesman promised returns of 10-15% a year, which compared with the return investors were currently receiving or the low interest on cash savings, was very appealing.

When we looked at what had taken place in each instance, we raised our concerns with the regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Storage pod schemes and other exotic investments might not be a scam, but they are extremely high risk and in the cases we have come across have ended with the investment companies becoming insolvent.

Anything offering such high returns must be treated with a healthy degree of scepticism. The litmus test being, if it’s too good to be true, it usually is. Apply this rule to any investment or financial offer, and you are usually kept from harm.

There are several steps you should take to stay safe from scams.

Be aware

Your bank will never ask you to move money to another account. Bank accounts can be blocked to instantly stop any transactions – so there is no need to transfer your money to another account.

What to look out for

-If you’re being offered high returns and interest rates – take a moment to think about it. If it seems too good to be true it probably is.

-Sometimes a genuine investment company can be cloned. If you’re making any investments it’s always best to speak to your Financial Adviser or check the FCA investment scam list at  www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart/warning-list for all known cloned firms.

-If a company contacts you out of the blue, via phone, email or text and puts pressure on you to make a decision quickly it’s likely to be fraudster. Genuine investment firms will give you time to think things over.

-Investment scammers sometimes advertise their services on social media and wait for you to contact them.

What to do to be sure   

-If someone calls you out of the blue asking you to invest money, just hang up. Wait for at least 10 minutes before making another call as fraudsters can keep the line open. Alternatively, use a different phone. Remember, nobody ever lost money by hanging up on a cold caller.

-Check the FCA investment scam list to see if that company has been cloned by fraudsters. You can also call the number the FCA have listed from a different phone to check it’s the same company. http://scamsmart.fca.org.uk/

-Always get independent investment advice from an FCA-regulated firm.

-If you believe you’ve accidentally shared any of your details, get in touch with your bank. Remember it’s best to use a different phone or wait at least 10 minutes in case the fraudster has kept the line open.

Please stay safe out there and remember you can always speak to one of our Financial Planner if you would like a second opinion.

Taking withdrawals from your investments

Taking withdrawals from your investments - article for Brunel Capital Partners

When we review your financial plan each year we discuss with you any requirements you may have to meet planned expenditure in the coming 12 months. We can then make recommendations to ensure that you receive this money from the most tax efficient and appropriate investment in line with your financial plan. We also ensure you receive the funds when you need them.

We understand that even with the best laid plans, life happens and there will be times when unexpected expenditure arises that cannot be met by your cash reserves. In these instances we will still need to make recommendations and gain confirmation that you are happy to proceed on the basis recommended.

So please allow as much time as you can once you know you have a need for extra funds from your pensions or investments to allow for this process. As always we will do our best for you.

Ride for Precious Lives

For the third year running, Damien will be taking part in the Ride for Precious Lives with Children’s Hospice South West. This is a unique annual sponsored 205 mile, 3Damien Rylett day cycle challenge to raise money for short and precious lives. Riding from St Austell to Bristol from 12th -14th July he will cycle through challenging but breathtaking scenery and visit three very special Children’s Hospices along the way: Little Harbour near St Austell, Little Bridge House near Barnstaple, and Charlton Farm near Bristol .

This exceptional event attracts cyclists who are committed to ride between 65–80 miles each day incorporating several hills the South West has to offer!

Ahead of the ride Damien commented “This year’s ride will be particularly challenging as I am having to train while recovering from a dislocated shoulder. Every year the children and families you meet along the way are truly inspirational and this is what drives you on” A number of you have asked how you can make donations to support Damien’s efforts – here is a link http://bit.ly/2w7Bsvt to the JustGiving page.

Sara MatherHis ride is hot on the heels of a wonderful achievement by Sara Mather in Paraplanning team. Sara ran her first Marathon in Newport at the beginning of May raising over £1,000 for Children’s Hospice South West.

Talking about her experience Sara commented “I was delighted to raise funds for the Children’s Hospice South West and was blown away by people’s generosity. Raising funds for this brilliant charity kept me going and it was an amazing day I won’t ever forget”.

First Female Adviser

Veronica Devereux - First Female Adviser at Brunel Capital Partners

The Brunel Group are pleased to announce their first female adviser, Veronica Devereux. Veronica joined the Wells Office 3 years ago. Having worked as a paraplanner she has gone on to qualify as an adviser offering full Financial Planning. As well as managing a portfolio of her own clients she has been working closely with Arnold Wills as he transfers his clients ahead of his retirement at the end of June. Veronica commented “I joined the Group because of their strong ethics and values and the high level of expertise they provide.” Damien Rylett Managing Director commented “I know Veronica will bring a wealth of experience to her role and we are pleased to be able to offer clients a  wider choice when it comes to choosing their adviser.”

Making a Difference

Making a Difference - article for Brunel Capital Partners

At both Brunel and Pilgrim, our core values are to continually improve, to care, to be fair, accountable and authentic and these inform what we do. They also motivate us to get involved in activities in our wider community through fundraising and charity work.

Helping where we can

We are actively encouraged to get involved with causes that matter to us whether it be by giving time and energy to volunteer, donating money to the charities that touch us or sponsoring colleagues. As a company the Bristol office supports several very worthwhile causes which include Children’s Hospital South West and in Wells we support Dementia through the Wells Dementia Action Alliance.

But it is not only us who contribute to worthwhile causes, many of our clients also support charities and not for profit organisations again through giving time, expertise or financial support and they tell us how rewarding this can be, and they often feel they receive more than they give by helping others.

Is Charitable giving one of your financial goals?

The act of giving money away has often been seen as the reserve of few who have great wealth which allows them to be philanthropic. However, we now see an increasing number of clients who list charitable giving as one of their financial planning goals.

Giving now or when I die?

Leaving a financial legacy in a Will has historically been the most popular option as the notion is that, when you die, affordability is no longer an issue. However, for clients who have gone through the financial planning process and where we have been able to demonstrate affordability, they have often chosen to make charitable donations during their lifetime. This has given them enormous fulfillment as they are able see the good their money can achieve firsthand.

And there are Tax Benefits too

In addition to making a difference in society, charitable giving comes with some significant tax advantages. For the income taxpayers among us, most donations (there are a few exceptions) can be gift aided to the charity. This means that for every £1 you donate, the charity you donate to can gross this payment up to £1.25 i.e you receive tax relief at the basic income tax rate of 20%. For higher rate and additional rate taxpayers, additional income tax relief can be claimed through their self-assessment tax return.

There are a number organisations that are able to receive shares and units in collective investment schemes. This has the added advantage of wiping any Capital Gains held within the investments you donate.

For those wishing to leave a legacy in their Will, all gifts to charity are free of inheritance tax (IHT) and since April 2012, anyone willing to bequeath a minimum of 10% of their net taxable estate to charity, can apply for a reduction in the rate of IHT applied to the remainder of their estate from 40% to 36%. The result is that a 10% gift of your net estate to charity has an effective tax relief of 76% if your estate has an IHT liability.

If you are interested in finding out more about making charitable gifts – whether you can afford to do this and the tax benefits – discuss this with your Financial Planner at your next review, they will be able to illustrate how this would work for your personal situation.

High achievement

An ongoing commitment to professional development is important for all Financial Planners, however Neil Pinney of Pilgrim Financial Planning in Wells has taken this commitment to the highest level by becoming a Fellow of the Personal Finance Society (PFS). This is the highest qualification awarded by the PFS and underlines Neil’s technical knowledge, experience and professionalism. Neil commented that “professional development is important for Financial Planners as regulations are constantly changing and we need to ensure we have the ability to deal with clients often complex affairs”.

Neil and his colleague Dan Hiles in Bristol, who is also a Fellow, are part of a select group across the world who have attained this prestigious qualification.

Brunel Capital Partners is a sister company of Pilgrim Financial Planning