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.
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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.