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Adele, 54

German-born Adele always dreamed of living in London. Now she’s here and happy. But although she’s organised and confident with investments and pensions, she still has questions and concerns…

My relationship with money: "Love/Hate"

"Money can stress me out a lot. But on the other hand I do love a good lifestyle, I like spending. But if an investment makes a loss or things aren’t working the way I like them to, I get a little stressed which has an impact on my life."

Staying in control, especially after 50

"I was married a long time in a different life but I’ve been on my own for the last 25 years. Even in marriage I was the one that dealt with finance.

"My husband was a little lazy. He trusted me to do it. But we were young then, under 30. It's not necessarily the age when you take much care of money. You live for the next holiday and want to buy a car. I honestly have to say I started to take more care of money when I was getting to 50. I never worried before, but since then I was like okay I have to take more care.

"I started to watch my money a little bit more. To do that I have a wonderful spreadsheet: what do I owe today, what do I have. I have a very good overview."

Difficulties fresh off the boat

"When I moved to London I wanted to open an account with Barclays because my German bank and Barclays have a corporation in this cash group so I thought I have an advantage being in the same group. But Barclays was difficult to open an account.

"They weren’t polite and I don’t like the customer service. At the beginning I was freelancing which the bank doesn’t like, and I was living in an Airbnb apartment. Barclays made it too complicated so I didn’t want to be with them. But HSBC accepted me and made it easy. Unfortunately you can’t just click on a button and have everything sorted out when you change countries."

How I choose a financial advisor

"I don’t like doing it completely online. Just talking isn’t enough to make a contract for me. I would like to see you and talk to and see an office environment – how is the company taking care of the adviser? It’s about personal relations.

"If I like a person and can find a good level of conversation and feel they really have knowledge and it’s not just for his or her own advantage, then I trust my gut to tell me if I trust them or if they are only trying to sell me something to get commission."

My biggest money question...

“It is very difficult for me to build up trust. So what are the most important things to do and research before I invest?”

Answer by Catherine Morgan, The Money Panel

I hear what you say and can fully appreciate why you feel like this. I would suggest that there is an element of emotion involved here as well as the practicalities. The emotion of feeling ‘unsafe’ and the practical aspects of wanting to choose the best provider. Money is emotional and I would firstly recognise what the feeling is that you are associating with this decision. Building up trust is about being able to recognise that in order to gain trust, you have to have confidence in them as a provider.

In order to build confidence, I would suggest you think about the following:

  1. How do they communicate with you? When selecting a company, one of the first things I do is look at the companies mission statement and any interviews with the ‘chiefs’ to determine if their values match your own. This will narrow down your search. If you have strong ethical views for example look for established firms with strong ethical threads.

  2. Seek out reviews (good and bad) Seek out customer reviews to see what issues others have had and what they do really well. You will undoubtedly always get a range of opinions which is good! Search for them on social media channels and find any discussion threads or groups that have been set up about them. Google them is another way to get to know more about who they really are behind their own website.

  3. Call the company If they have a customer support line, call them as if you were an existing customer. This will provide you with some excellent insight into how long you have to wait, and their staff’s mannerisms (this is always a great indicator to me if their staff are well trained as it shows commitment to development and customer service) and tone of voice of the firm. 

  4. Start small Rather than committing to the firm with all of your money, try dipping your toes in with them. Invest a small amount to test the waters. If it doesn’t work out you can ditch and switch. You can switch any investment nowadays with just a single form.Check out the FCA register From a security perspective, if the firm is authorised and regulated under the Financial Conduct Authority, your money is protected in the event of insolvency up to £50,000 under the FSCS (Financial services compensation scheme).

After reviewing these areas, you will be in a more informed frame of mind to make the decision more rationally. Recognise that it is scary to make that first step and you are not alone! It is one of the steps that holds many people back. If you take the time to consciously become aware that if you are feeling fearful you can challenge this emotion by sense checking it against facts. This will enable you to make a reasonable decision without letting the fear dictate your actions.

Good luck!

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