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March Update – Pesky Spam Filters

Pension Select Committee

I’ve been busy again in relation to this important committee  – that does seem to miss the point quite a lot. My most recent submission related to the ‘costs of pension transfer advice’ and the issues surrounding that – again we’ve seen a good deal of miss-advising going on with Defined Benefit Pension Transfers – notably with British Steel Members. My comments are here Pension Select Committee (link is not secure – can you believe)

Given that advice in mandatory for most of these transfers you’d think the regulator would be overly cautious  – reality is it’s not and a tiny number of really bad apples create chaos.  If you are lucky enough to have a final salary type scheme  – then it is unlikely it will be in your best interests to move it away – really.

Importantly if you are cold called or approached about moving it is more than likely a scam.

The really sad news is that last year 245 victims lost an average of £91,000 each – with few prosecutions so far. Sadly, the regulators, scheme trustees and our police service seem unable to stop it.  Spread the word, pension transfers are often a problem.  As a rule of thumb – never accept the advice of one adviser always get it reviewed independently, preferably by an independent Actuary.

House In Spain

I have finally purchased my holiday home in Spain. It’s taken a year. Some important lessons on that.

Use TransferWise for all overseas payments (even comes with a debit card if you choose) exchange rate and fees are far lower than the banks and for me better than the likes of Currency’s Direct. I’ll be honest, provided you are happy to deal online Transferwise seem hard to beat – all currency options and with the debit card and app means simplicity. If you are not tech savvy –  i don’t have any answers at the moment.  My purchase costs were about £1800 less than my bank (HSBC) quoted.

Second point – Spain seems to be pretty open to us British living and buying homes there, for me it was the weather and the beaches and the fact we seem to be wanted was a godsend.

Top Tip – I used a British Law firm to oversee the purchase, increased cost of about £900 but  I saved that on the currency switch. In Spain they only speak and write in Spanish  – the law does not accommodate any other language.

Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE)

This movement has been getting quite a lot of flack recently – but I can assure you this.  In the past two years i’ve met over a dozen who have effectively retired – at 40 something.  The advisory industry seems to be disinterested in this kind of planning. What’s really interesting about what the movement is doing.

  • Not using pensions.
  • Investing their own money on a low charge basis.
  • Invest for income in the main – once it’s paid it’s yours.
  • Being mindful about what they purchase.
  • Having a side business if working full time.

Importantly, they are not spending hours of time managing or worrying about money – most of the time they are just making small tweaks to a handful of principles. I have some more to come on this, but here is a brief summary of what the #fire movement is doing.

Some of this is easy peasey, but when you dig deeper on these points the differences are profound, when compared with the usual advice.

  • Not using pensions.
  • Investing their own money on a low charge basis.
  • Being mindful about what they purchase.
  • Having a side business if working full time

That’s it for now.