CREATED 06 Jun 2016
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How I Got Advice: Rhiannon’s Story

Rhiannon Edwards, 28, talks about how her first experience of meeting a financial adviser left her with more confidence to manager her finances. 

Name: Rhiannon Edwards, 28

Occupation: Writer / video producer

Adviser: Michelle Gibbs, Helm Godfrey, London

Before the meeting

My family in Yorkshire gave me a couple of money mottos I’ve always tried to stick by. One is a time-honoured adage: look after the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves. The other: only a fool spends money before they earn it.

They’ve served me well until now, but when it comes to being self-employed in London, starting a SIPP and deciding between a cash ISA, and a stocks and shares ISA, they don’t really fit the bill.

Seeking financial advice at this point in life is really a way to try to set myself up for the future. At the moment I have two financial assets: my SIPP, through which I’m growing my pension by investing in funds, and my savings account, which is just sitting there, really.

What can I do now that will help me avoid destitution in retirement? How can I manage my SIPP more effectively? Where should I put the small pot of savings I have to make it grow into a deposit for a house? Is there anything I need to do as a buffer against being self-employed?

Where I’m from, discussing money – whether you have a little or a lot – has always been a bit taboo, so I am apprehensive about sitting in front of a stranger and telling her my financial life story.

I always thought financial advisers were for the billionaires, so I’m also surprised that Michelle Gibbs at Helm Godfrey in London has agreed to meet me for a consultation.

Also, I worry, are my questions a bit basic? Should I put my money in a stocks and shares ISA instead of a cash one? What’s the difference, risk-wise? How do I manage my SIPP? Should I be buying and selling individual stocks and shares instead of putting money in funds?

Am I missing anything when it comes to being self-employed? Why is investing in funds a good idea and can they ever go bust? Oh – and what about that student debt?

I just hope I’m not laughed out of the building with my humble savings pot and naive questioning...

After the meeting

My trip to see a financial adviser wasn’t as scary as I thought it might be.

Sitting in the Helm Godfrey reception area, I could hear two people discussing the implications of the EU referendum on the world of finance.

That was the point at which I understood why financial advisers are a good idea. They spend all day acting as the watchmen of the financial industry and passing on their findings to the people they advise – people who, like me, are too busy to get to grips with deep financial detail. They could help me get ahead of the noise.

After earwigging for a bit, I’m asked into a room to meet Michelle Gibbs, a chartered financial adviser. She asks a few questions: How much money do I have in savings? Pension? Any private income? What is my employment status? Any debt?

It felt a bit weird telling Michelle all this at first, but as we got further into the conversation it became comfortable. Michelle was friendly and non-judgmental, and was satisfyingly direct when we were talking about financial matters.

We discussed funds and shares, and my SIPP. We talked about risk. Michelle explained that each investment comes with a certain level of risk and some risks are worth taking.

For example, because I can’t access the money in my SIPP for a long time, it might be worth putting it in riskier funds. Even though they are volatile in the short term, over a long period they may increase my pot. That’s good to know.

On the flip side, Michelle advised it is worth keeping my savings in a cash ISA for now, rather than gambling them on stocks and shares, because as well as being a starter for a house deposit, it is also my emergency fund. Because I need access to it at all times, I need to have it somewhere low risk.

We also talked about buffering against any unexpected illness I might suffer. Income protection policies, something I didn’t realise existed, are worth knowing about, especially being self-employed.

I left with a clearer picture of how it works and a lot more confidence in managing my finances. Now is my time for saving and growth, but the next time I have a big financial decision to make, I’m heading straight to Michelle.

 

Being featured on this site does not constitute any endorsement or recommendation by Old Mutual Wealth. Advisers are not vetted other than to ensure they are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

 

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.