Monthly Archives : February 2017

Vitality Health

Keeping your heart healthy

Keeping your heart healthy

Dementia and Alzheimers have replaced heart disease as the leading cause of death in England and Wales, but the latter still accounted for 11.5% of all deaths in 2015. In fact, every three minutes someone in the UK has a heart attack and 30% of those are fatal.

The good news is there’s a lot you can do to keep your heart healthy.

Watch your weight
Research shows keeping to a healthy weight cuts your risk of heart disease. The British Heart foundation offers support on eating well and being physically active which can help you manage your weight and keep your heart healthy. Find out more at www.bhf.org.uk

Stop smoking
Smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with those who’ve have never smoked. It’s a difficult habit to break, but stopping smoking is the single best thing you can do for your heart’s health. If you smoke:

• ask your doctor, practice nurse or pharmacist for advice on how to stop.
• make a date to give up and stick to it.
• tell your family and friends that you’re quitting and ask for their support.
• keep busy to help take your mind off cigarettes.

Don’t drink too much
Drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol can also have a harmful effect on your heart and general health. If you drink alcohol it is important to keep within the guidelines and drink no more than 14 units each week.

Manage cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure
If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, have diabetes or high blood pressure, this can increase your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases. Eating healthily and exercising regularly can help lower cholesterol, reduce your risk of developing type two diabetes and reduce blood pressure.

Get financial protection
Life and Protection Insurance offers a financial safety net for you and your loved ones, should heart disease strike. In fact, Scottish Widows recently revealed that heart-related disorders were the second only to cancer as the most common reason for a policyholder to claim on their life cover and critical illness plan. They can provide a regular income or cash payout to ease the financial burden caused by serious illness or untimely death:

• Life Insurance can provide financial security to those who depend on your income when you die. It could pay off your mortgage, or provide an income to help cover things like regular household bills
• Critical Illness Insurance pays out a tax-free lump sum on the diagnosis of certain life-threatening or debilitating conditions, like cancer, heart attack or stroke.
• Income Protection Insurance pays out a regular, tax-free income if you become unable to work because of illness, injury, and in some cases, unemployment. It could help you keep up with your mortgage or rent payments, as well as other living costs, until you’re able to return to work.

You may already have one or more of the above in place, but it’s still worth reviewing your current cover levels. Personal circumstances can change regularly so it’s important to ensure your level of cover remains appropriate.

[gem_quote style=”5″]Contact us today for a Life and Protection Insurance review.[/gem_quote]
Mortgage Advisers

Buying for the first time?

Buying for the first time?

For first-time buyers, getting onto the property ladder may seem a daunting process, but there’s more help available than you might think.

With supply and demand at an imbalance, the average UK house price has been pushed beyond the reach of many first-time buyers. August data from Land Registry shows an annual price increase of 8.4%, taking the value of the average UK property to £218,964. When you consider that first-time buyers would typically put down around 20% against their first home, it’s no wonder finding a sufficient deposit is becoming increasingly difficult – especially if you are currently renting.

Help is at hand
A report from Which? shows that just over half of first-time buyers (52%) had to rely on financial support from a parent or family member in order to purchase their home. This ‘bank of mum and dad’ has been a useful financial foot-up for many.

If you’re not able to put down a large deposit you may be able to find a mortgage rate of 90% or 95% – provided you can meet the lender’s affordability criteria.

Government help
Although the Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee scheme came to an end in December 2016, the Help to Buy: Equity Loan is still available. Here, the Government lends you up to 20% of the cost of your home, so you’ll only need a 5% cash deposit and a 75% mortgage to make up the rest. Equity loans are available to first-time buyers as well as homeowners looking to move, provided it’s for a new-build
worth less than £600,000.

The Help to Buy: ISA will help you boost your savings by 25%. For every £200 you save you receive a government bonus of £50. The maximum government bonus you can receive is £3,000.

Sound mortgage advice can take the complexities out of the home-buying process and maximise your chances of getting an affordable mortgage

If you need help getting onto the property ladder please get in touch.

Your home/property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage

Home Insurance

Are your contents underinsured?

Are your contents underinsured?

When it comes to insuring your home and contents, many people take out far less cover than they need, risking potential upset if it comes to making a claim.

The average UK home contains around £55,000 worth of possessions, but an average insurance policy covers just £35,000, leaving a huge £20,000 worth of uninsured valuables per household.

Why are people undervaluing their possessions?
One reason could simply be a lack of awareness – both in terms of the real value of possessions and the items we should be thinking about insuring. When you’re reviewing your contents insurance, don’t just think about your jewellery and electronic equipment or other high-value items. Make sure you consider things like clothing, shoes, books, furniture – and contents in your garage, garden shed or other outbuildings.

Another reason why people underinsure could be a desire to keep insurance premiums down – but this really misses the point of taking out cover in the first place. If you’re in the unfortunate situation where you need to claim and you haven’t included certain items in your policy, you won’t be covered and this could leave you even more out of pocket.

Ask us to review your cover
By seeking our professional guidance, you may find you’re able to reduce your outgoings, identify instances where your protection could be improved or uncover gaps in your insurance.

We can help you understand what you’re covered for – and what you aren’t. While buying home insurance may feel like an expensive chore, it’s critical to ensure it meets your needs and expectations. If you don’t fully understand your policy excesses (the contribution you are required
to pay towards a claim) and policy exclusions (such as accidental damage), your insurance could end up letting you down when you need it most.

Alternatively you may not even realise you actually require specialist insurance. If your home is classed as a ‘non-standard construction’, or you have high-value contents in the home, it may be appropriate to call in a specialist insurance provider that can meet your needs.

It can be easy to question the value of insurance – until the day you need it most. If you’ve ever been unfortunate to make an insurance claim, you’ll know just how valuable it can be.

[gem_quote style=”5″]For more information about protecting your home and contents, please get in touch.
[/gem_quote]
Savings

Achieving your financial goals

Achieving your financial goals

We lead complex lives in an increasingly complex world. As your financial adviser we can help you better understand your financial challenges, goals and needs, and help you find appropriate ways to meet them.

Even a seemingly straightforward financial goal can involve numerous decisions and a lot of time and effort getting it right. Whether it’s buying a home, investing for the future or protecting the people and things you cherish, we’re here to help you make the right choices for your needs. Here are some of the services we provide, which our clients have told us they value the most.

Mortgages
With so many mortgage lenders offering products on the high street and online, it can be tempting to cut out the middle man. But when you’re making such a huge financial commitment, professional guidance can be invaluable, particularly if your needs are out of the ordinary. As well as arranging your mortgage we can also recommend specialist professional services that can help with other elements of your home-buying process, including solicitors and surveyors.

Protection
When using comparison sites and direct insurers, how can you be sure their “off-the-peg” solutions meet your specific needs? Using our expert product knowledge we can help you find the right solution for you. Whatever your particular need – be it income, family, mortgage or business protection – we can access high quality products from a range of handpicked providers; providers we have selected because they are proud to stand behind claims when it matters the most.

Investment planning
As well as your pension, you may have opportunities to invest lump sums – such as an inheritance or bonus – but are unsure about what strategy is best. As with all areas of financial planning, it pays to have a clear objective or vision. We can talk you through the important things to consider and help you create a balanced and diversified portfolio, taking into account your financial goals, attitude to risk, and any appropriate tax planning.

Retirement planning
The onus to create a comfortable retirement is falling increasingly on the individual, and the new pension regulations, whilst bringing welcome freedoms, introduce additional complexity to your at-retirement choices.

The right financial plan could help secure a more comfortable retirement – not just for you, but also for your loved ones and heirs. We can help you navigate the complexities of the new rules. Knowing what can be achieved and establishing the right strategy as early as possible can help you prepare for the future.

Inheritance planning
Passing our hard-earned wealth to loved ones often forms a big part of our ambitions. The right forward planning can help you maximise your heirs’ inheritance by minimising tax liabilities. We can help you put the right structures in place.

Of course, your needs in any and all of these areas will change over time, and regulatory changes can impact the effectiveness of any structures already in place, so we recommend a regular review to ensure that your plans remain on track and relevant.

HM Revenue and Customs practice and the law relating to taxation are complex and subject to individual circumstances and changes which cannot be foreseen.

The value of investments and any income from them can fall as well as rise. You may not get back the amount originally invested.

[gem_quote style=”5″]To find out more about how we can help you, please get in touch.[/gem_quote]

Your home/property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage