Name: Tim Gibson, 35
Occupation: Writer / lecturer
Adviser: Neil Rossiter, Blackdown Financial, Taunton
Tim Gibson, decides it's time to get his finances in order and meet a financial adviser for the first time, hear his initial thoughts, and whether he'd revisit.
Before the meeting
I am in my office surrounded by bits of paper. The sort-out that I’m conducting has been a long time coming. There are pension statements, mortgage and bank account details, insurance policies. And I’ve somehow got to pull them all together to gain an overview of my current financial situation.
The reason is simple: tomorrow afternoon, I’m heading for an initial consultation with a financial planner and adviser. After years of not paying enough attention to my finances, picking up policies rather like a magpie does foil at a recycling centre, I’ve decided the time is right to take stock.
That’s not something I feel I can do alone. I need an expert’s perspective, someone who understands how to make money work to improve my lifestyle. Someone who can look me in the eye and tell me that unless I sort out my pension fund, I’ll still be working at 80.
I’m hoping Neil Rossiter, from Blackdown Financial in Taunton, is that person. He is vastly experienced, and told me when we set up our meeting that he’ll help me to see how money can be a tool that frees me, rather than an all-consuming burden.
It is an interesting thought, that seeing a financial adviser can be liberating rather than frightening. One of the reasons I’ve always avoided doing so in the past is because I haven’t wanted to confront either my lack of preparation for the days when I’m no longer working, or – worse still – the possibility of dying.
But now I’m signed up for a session, I feel excited rather than scared. I’m hoping Neil can advise me on the best way to plan for retirement. Increase pension contributions? Or perhaps an investment property? And as the father of a three-year-old, how can I give my son the best possible start in life?
So here I am, surrounded by scraps of paper and nurturing a feeling of profound optimism. This could be the turning point, where I finally get grown up about money. I’ll keep you posted.
After the meeting
Well, that’s a lot better. I feel as if I’ve spent an hour and a half with a counsellor rather than a financial adviser. Neil Rossiter asked sensitive questions about what I want from life, how I’d like things to be a few years from now and what my professional aspirations are.
This caught me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting such a soul-searching discussion, but I realise now that money is inextricably linked to our sense of ourselves and to what we most value in our lives.
For me, it’s time. Time to spend with my family and in the garden. Time to clamber up mountains and visit exciting places. Time to read (and maybe write) novels and think thoughts, rather than living against a perpetual deadline, or charging around the country in search of the next big job.
I had no idea I would tell Neil these things. But he was very clear: financial planning is about working out what you want from life and identifying the ways that money can help you achieve it. It’s not about signing up to all manner of financial products. Rather, the task is to identify what works for you and find the best offers available.
So we discussed pension schemes and looked at the best way to invest savings. We considered the implications of reducing my working hours, and played out scenarios such as being forced to retire for health reasons, contracting a terminal disease, and even dying.
But none of it made me feel gloomy. It just made me feel better prepared for whatever lies ahead.
At one point, Neil drew a bucket that represented my financial situation. The bucket had a variety of taps at the bottom, signifying expenditure, and a few sources of input at the top, including my income from a lecturing job and my work as a writer.
The challenge, he said, was to work out how to balance all the taps for the remaining years of my life, so that the bucket stayed full enough to support my aspirations.
That’s a pretty handy metaphor and certainly got me thinking. I definitely intend to continue with the process of review, product analysis and eventual purchase that comes next.
After all, how else am I going to maintain my new-found financial focus? And how else will I retire young enough to finally write that novel?
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