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How I got advice: Victoria's story

Name: Victoria Neumark Jones, 65

Occupation: Associate professor, journalism, London Metropolitan University

Adviser: Neil Jacobs, Prosperity Wealth Creation

Victoria Neumark Jones, meets a financial adviser for the first time to find out when she can retire and if she's able to help provide for her granddaughter.

Before the meeting

I’m at that point in my life where I need to reconfigure my options. It’s a big question and finance has a part to play in it.

I am at the official retirement age, but really enjoy my job and feel no pressure to give it up. On the other hand, I can picture that in the not-too-distant future, I may get too tired to carry on full time.

I can’t imagine ever not working, though – my mother worked till she was nearly 80 and her health was much worse than mine.

My children have all grown up and left home (finally). I have helped them up the housing ladder so don’t feel any obligation there at the moment – apart from my delightful two-year-old granddaughter. I keep thinking I should squirrel away some money for her.

I don’t have a partner, so I can please myself. And I enjoy spending my income, particularly on holidays. But then again, I try to save, via various bank plans.

So, what do I want?

I am surprisingly apprehensive about meeting Neil Jacobs from Prosperity Wealth Creation. It feels a bit like waiting to see the head teacher, even though I will surely be much older than him. My two warring impulses – always save money vs let’s splash out – are locked in combat as I plan what to say to him.

I have savings, which are doing pretty badly, to be honest; bits of pensions from different sources; and I let out a part of my property. I earn quite well, but expect a big drop when I do retire.

Whenever I do this calculation, I always end up wondering where the money goes. Oh well. Here goes.

After the meeting

Neil came to my house, which was great and made me feel really comfortable. He set me at my ease immediately by saying: “You are only at the beginning of your retirement journey.”

That quietened the “let me not mess this up” kind of anxious feeling I had about our conversation. And it led gently into the assessment of my assets: this part was slightly like going to the doctor and sharing personal information.

He was upbeat, but realistic – just the kind of person I like most. But it was the process itself that was most helpful.

After talking through the assets, we completed a risk assessment profile. I scored mostly Cautious. I have NS&I products, as well as stocks and shares ISAs.

Neil had one helpful suggestion here, which was that as I continue to save – in ISAs or directly – I should research the idea of ready-made portfolios rather than following individual fund managers, as I have been.

When the NS&I savings mature, I should reconsider. The rate is rubbish (I agree!) and underperforms the market.

He then calculated my income at retirement, given my current risk profile, against what would happen if I upped the risk quotient. It was crystal clear – stay with low risk, accept low income; up the risk and get more income. No pressure to change, but lots to think about. I’m going to see him again to talk it over more fully.

I need to think: what do I need now? In three years? In seven years? If I am locking it away, shouldn’t it work harder?

And for my grandchild, hopefully facing a longer future, a Junior stocks and shares ISA will be perfect. Over the long term, markets have generally delivered.

I wondered about peer-to-peer lending, which one of my sons is keen on. Neil pointed out that friends and family give advice that is anecdotal, rather than calculating risk and return. Peer-to-peer offers great returns, but with risk: be prepared to lose.

Am I prepared to lose? That is the big question for me. Neil suggested putting by a certain sum for such risky ventures, just as I should for my holidays.

Finally, advisers mostly help with larger, long-term investments, but Neil pointed me in the direction of a will writer: “Do you want to leave a problem for your children to sort out?”

I’ve already made the appointment.


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Everyone’s needs and circumstances are different. What is right for one is not necessarily right for all, so it’s important to speak to your financial adviser about your own individual circumstances.