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There’s been quite a lot going on in the financial world in recent weeks, so here’s a run down of some of the most up to date stories in the media today.

The introduction of tougher rules for peer-to-peer platforms and what this really means

Peer-to-peer platforms (those that offer loans to small firms using cash garnered from investors) that offer loans to small firms using cash garnered from investors will come under tougher rules from December, said the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The regulator’s rule changes last week come in the wake of the demise of Lendy last month, which collapsed into administration with £160m in outstanding loans and with more than £90m in default.

Lendy had spent the last six months on the FCA’s watchlist, and the body has launched a probe into the specifics of its crash. The watchdog’s new rules for the whole of the industry impose stricter requirements on governance arrangements and other controls it operates under. However, the FCA focus on how these firms market themselves, how much investors can spend and how these platforms should be wound up if they fail, has attracted the most industry attention.

The FCA said platforms must ensure they only market to retail clients who:

  • are certified or self worth investors’ certified as ‘sophisticated investors’ or are certified as ‘high net
  • confirm before a promotion is made that, in relation to the investment promoted, they will receive regulated investment advice or investment management services from an authorised person, or
  • will be certified as a ‘restricted investor’; that is, they will not invest more than 10% of their net investible assets in peer-to-peer agreements in the 12 months following certification.
How a crackdown on banking overdraft fees will likely result in an end to free banking in the UK

A dramatic shakeup of the financial sector could herald the end of free banking in the UK, with all customers required to pay a monthly fee to keep their current accounts open.

The financial services regulator has announced a series of major reforms to the overdraft market that consumer rights champions say will stamp out “hideous charges designed to entrap people in debt”.

Once banks and building societies are prohibited from charging customers fees for borrowing money using an unplanned overdraft, it could become the norm for institutions to impose a monthly “management fee” on all current accounts.

Banks and building societies will be banned from charging people who go beyond their overdraft limit fixed daily or monthly fees from 6 April 2020 under the sweeping reforms unveiled by the Financial Services Authority (FCA). However, experts say the new rules mean banks and building societies will be scrambling to find a way to recoup their costs and will likely be considering introducing fees for current account holders.

When it comes to recouping costs, normally a bank or building society would need to review their entire range of banking products – any perks or fees on accounts would be looked at to see if they can be sustained. They might chop the perks they are currently paying out or they could add a management fee onto current accounts.

If that becomes the norm, of course customers will be irritated but that’s unfortunately how banking shakeups work…banking is a service, and banks need to make money.

How best-buy fund lists are under the spotlight in the wake of Woodford troubles

The Financial Conduct Authority has been urged to probe the way platforms run their fund buy-lists amid concerns of potential vested interest.

Shaun Port, chief investment officer at Nutmeg, said vested interests between fund houses and platforms’ best buy-lists should be investigated, while Bella Caridade-Ferreira, consultant at Fundscape, said she believes fund buy-lists should be regulated altogether.

The calls come in the wake of Neil Woodford’s flagship Equity Income Fund closing to investors amid liquidity concerns on June 3rd. Woodford’s £3.7bn Equity Income fund was suspended following a sustained period of underperformance, which prompted investors to pull £9m from the fund every working day in May.

The impact of the trading suspension on Neil Woodford’s Equity Income Fund is much further reaching, though, than just one fund.

While investors who bought the Woodford fund based on the recommendations of a best buy list are left wondering when they will be able to redeem their investments, it calls into question the broader appropriateness of best buy fund lists.

As the Financial Conduct Authority highlighted in their 2017 study, there are concerns around links between funds on best buy lists and the platform providers as well as their performance over the long-term. Commentators believe It is time the regulator revisited best buy fund lists and whether they are acting in the best interest of consumers.

How switching saving accounts could save you money

The Telegraph reports that savers are losing £3.5bn a year in interest on account of an inability to summon the energy to switch and many people remaining loyal to high street banks even though these often offer worse rates than smaller, rival firms.

According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, customers with Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander account for £827bn of the total £1.3 trillion saved in the UK. And while they are set to make £3.4bn in interest on their savings over the next year, this would more than double, to £7bn, if they swapped to better deals with rivals, the study, which was commissioned by savings platform Flagstone, found.

The same is true in many other savings areas,” adds the article. “All the current top rates for one to five -year bonds and ISAs are for deals supplied by non-high street lenders.”

And finally …. vineyards will now qualify for business property relief, so could be a route to saving inheritance tax, for a very few amongst us!

Tax Justice UK has published research showing how some of the wealthiest families in Britain are benefiting from up to £666m a year in inheritance tax breaks.

The current law means that families with agricultural and business property can avoid paying any tax on these assets. The idea is to protect small farms and family businesses that might be asset rich but cash-poor. In the future, vineyards will be included within the category of agricultural and business property.

But research shows that the vast bulk of these tax breaks are going to those at the top and the campaigning group is calling for a cap on the amount of relief available to estates of over £1m in a bid to curb use of the reliefs.

The freedom of information request found that 261 families with agricultural property worth more than £1m shared £208m in tax relief in 2015/16, the latest year for which figures are available, representing 62% of the agricultural property relief given out that year. In the same period, 234 families with business assets worth over £1m shared £458m business property relief, representing 77% of the relief given out that year.

Overall, the group says 71% of these two categories of IHT tax reliefs went to families with farm and business property worth over £1m.

The analysis shows some 62 families with agricultural property worth more than £2.5m shared an approximate tax saving of £107m, which works out as an average saving of £1.7m per estate. At the very top, 51 families with business property assets worth over £5m shared an approximate tax saving of £327m, which works out as an average saving of £6.4m per estate.

The report also points out that there is evidence to suggest these reliefs are open to abuse. In 2017 just 40% of agricultural land was purchased by farmers, down from over 60% in 2011, while investors have flocked to buy agricultural land and property, it states.

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A commonly used term – but what does it really mean?

So, asset allocation. It’s so ingrained in how we manage our clients’ investment portfolios, that we talk about it all the time.

So, what is it? What are assets? And what happens when you allocate them?

The big picture

An asset is anything beneficial you have or you have coming to you.

For our purpose, it’s anything of value in your investment portfolio. After bundling your investible assets into asset classes, we then allocate or assign each asset class a particular role in your portfolio.

To offer up an analogy, allocating your portfolio into different asset classes is similar to storing your clothes according to their roles, so your trousers, your shirts, your shoes, et cetera. Instead of just leaving them in a big pile in your wardrobe, that you kind of sort them out.

You may also further to sort your wardrobe by style, so you create ideal kind if outfits for your various circumstances. For argument’s sake, I have some clothes that I’ll do the gardening in, I’ll have some clothes for the weekend, clothes for the office, clothes for possibly a wedding, going out, et cetera. I suppose they’re hung in different parts of my wardrobe, and the shoes are kind of a certain order as well.

Likewise, I suppose asset allocation helps us tailor your portfolio to best suit you, efficiently tilting your investments towards or away from various levels of market risks and expected returns. Your precise allocations are guided by your particular financial goals.

That’s it, really. If you stop reading here, you’ve already got the basics of asset allocation. Of course, given how much academic brainpower you’ll find behind these basics, there is a lot more I can cover. For now, let’s just a closer look at asset classes.

A closer look at asset classes

So, what have we got?

  • At the broadest level, asset classes typically include domestic, developed, international, and emerging market versions of equities, which is the same as shares or stocks, which is an ownership or a stake in a business.
  • Bonds, or another word is fixed income, which is a loan to a business or government.
  • Hard assets, which are kind of a stake in a tangible object, such as it could be commercial property, it could be gold, or oil, or something of that type.
  • Cash or cash equivalence, so cash just in the building society, in the bank, within your pension fund, which is then invested within the bank accounts, or very, very, you could say a proxy for cash could be very short one-month duration bonds to the U.K. government, let’s say, if you were a U.K. investor.

Just as you can further sort out your wardrobe style, each broad asset class, except for cash, can be further subdivided based on a set of factors or expected sources of return.

For example, stocks and shares can be classified by company size: small companies, mid-sized companies, large cap companies, business metrics, value, or growth, and a handful of other factors more recently identified.

Bonds can be classified by types, so government bonds, corporate bonds, and then there’s a credit quality, high or low ratings, and then the term. Loans for a short-term, intermediate-term, or long-term, I.e. when they’re repaid.

Now, we can mix and match all these various factors into a manageable collection of asset classes, such as international small company shares, or intermediate government bonds, and so on.

Generally speaking, the riskier the asset class, the higher return you can expect to earn by investing in it over the long haul.

Implementing our understanding

Whilst we understand the asset allocation, we’ve got to implement it. We’ve got to turn the plan into action.

This is where we turn to select fund managers with low costs, who will track our targeted asset classes as accurately as possible. Now, sometimes a fund tracks a popular index that tracks the asset class, and other times asset classes are tracked more directly. Either way, the approach lets us turn of a collection of risk/reward building blocks into a tightly constructed portfolio with asset allocations optimised to reflect your individual investment plans.

Now, who decided which asset classes to use based on which market factors?

Well, to be honest, there’s no universal consensus on the one and only correct answer to this complex and ever-evolving equation.

As evidence-based practitioners, we turn, that’s us here at MFP, turn to ongoing academic inquiry, professional collaboration, and our own analysis. Our goal is to identify allocations that seem to best explain how to achieve different outcomes with different portfolios.

As such, we look for robust results that have been replicated across global markets, been repeated across multiple peer-reviewed academic studies, lasted through various market conditions, and actually worked, not just in theory, but as investible solutions, where real life trading costs and other frictions apply.

Aligning asset allocation to long term goals

Now, as we learn more, and sometimes we improve on our past assumptions, even as the underlying tenets of asset allocation remain our dependable guide, the bottom line, by employing sensible evidence-based asset allocations reflect your unique financial goals, including your timeline and risk tolerance, you should be much better positioned to achieve those goals over time.

Asset allocation also offers a disciplined approach for staying on course towards your own goals through ever volatile markets.

Now, this is more important than most people realise.

Where people get killed is getting in and out of investments. They get halfway into something, then they lose confidence, and then they try something else, and then they lose confidence, and then they try something else. It’s actually better off to have a philosophy and stick to it.

Hopefully, now that you’re a bit familiar with asset allocation, and I hope you agree that properly tailored, it’s a fitting strategy for any investor seeking to earn a long-term market return.

You can hear me explain more about asset allocation on episode 031 of The Retirement Café Podcast.

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HM Revenue & Customs is struggling to add up!

It got its sums wrong on the number of individuals taking up the tax break for married couples after it counted claimants more than once.

New data reveals that less than half of those eligible are benefiting.

In June last year the Treasury stated 3m couples were taking advantage of the marriage allowance. To benefit as a couple, you (as the lower earner) must normally have an income below your Personal Allowance – this is usually £12,500.

On Thursday HMRC admitted it had miscalculated the total to the tune of more than 1m. The real number of claimants was likely to be below 1.8m for the 2018-19 tax year.

HMRC said it had inflated the figures by counting the same claimant multiple times.

Oops.

Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London, said: “It is shocking that HMRC have got these figures so badly wrong. This time last year, ministers were boasting that 3m couples were benefiting from this tax break. “Now it turns out that fewer than 2m are actually getting help, and that more than half of those who are entitled are missing out.

HMRC urgently needs to do more to alert families who could benefit so that everyone who is entitled to help receives it.”

No one has missed out yet as eligible couples have until 5 April 2020 to seek backdated claims for every year including 2015-16.

You can claim here https://www.gov.uk/marriage-allowance/how-to-apply

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HM Revenue & Customs is struggling to add up!

It got its sums wrong on the number of individuals taking up the tax break for married couples after it counted claimants more than once.

New data reveals that less than half of those eligible are benefiting.

In June last year the Treasury stated 3m couples were taking advantage of the marriage allowance. To benefit as a couple, you (as the lower earner) must normally have an income below your Personal Allowance – this is usually £12,500.

On Thursday HMRC admitted it had miscalculated the total to the tune of more than 1m. The real number of claimants was likely to be below 1.8m for the 2018-19 tax year.

HMRC said it had inflated the figures by counting the same claimant multiple times.

Oops.

Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London, said: “It is shocking that HMRC have got these figures so badly wrong. This time last year, ministers were boasting that 3m couples were benefiting from this tax break. “Now it turns out that fewer than 2m are actually getting help, and that more than half of those who are entitled are missing out.

HMRC urgently needs to do more to alert families who could benefit so that everyone who is entitled to help receives it.”

No one has missed out yet as eligible couples have until 5 April 2020 to seek backdated claims for every year including 2015-16.

You can claim here https://www.gov.uk/marriage-allowance/how-to-apply

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Helping you be more intentional when gifting

Charitable giving should bring great joy and fulfilment. It should make you feel empowered and excited about the good you can do in the world.

But many generous people don’t get as much joy from their giving as they can, simply because they lack quality information on how to choose charities best aligned with their interests.

If you’ve reached the stage where you want to go beyond one-off donations and really understand the issue you’re passionate about and how charitable donations can support it, take a look at Thoughtful Philanthropy.

This charitable giving advisory service helps individuals and families become informed and empowered philanthropists.

They dig into the issues that move you and identify the issue or issues you want to put your time and treasure behind. In a few weeks, they come back to you with a bespoke, well-researched report on the charities working on your chosen issue and their approaches. Where and how much you give is up to you. Their job is just to make you feel really good about where you do choose to give.

Is your money being well spent?

If you donate to a charity that aims to save the polar bear, how do you know it’s being spent wisely?

This is the million-pound question at the moment and, unfortunately, there is no clear answer because the real challenge is that a charity is not a ‘Tesco’. If you look at the financials of Tesco, you can find out what they are paying in and what they are paying out, so you can see their profit margin. They’re delivering on shareholder value.

You look at a charity, and their goal is social change, which does not come out on a balance sheet. It’s very, very difficult to evaluate. There is a movement to do more evaluation of charity work, which is really welcome, but it is really difficult.

At the end of the day, it can be very subjective. Does a charity is working on homelessness for example, spend all of their money on beds for homeless people or do they put their money into mental health and substance abuse support?

 

Giving more than just your treasure

Monetary donations are always greatly appreciated by charities, but there is so much more you can give – especially in retirement. The tremendous amount of skills that you can give back to the issues you care about is huge.

Today’s retirees have lots of energy and vitality. A retiree of 65 now comparable to maybe 40 years ago is incomparable, first of all, in life expectancy and therefore health. Have you considered how you could give your time, talents and testimony, in addition to your treasure?

Finding out more

I interviewed Lauren Janus of Thoughtful Philanthropy on episode 030 of The Retirement Café Podcast. If you’d like to hear her views on the future of philanthropic giving, click here.

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Charitable giving should bring great joy and fulfilment.

It should make you feel empowered and excited about the good you can do in the world.

Many of us donate to charity, but do we do it intentionally?

Lauren’s journey towards understanding the charitable landscape

Lauren janus had worked in the charitable sector for 15 years, but found herself becoming a little bit disillusioned.

She was spending all of her time telling donors why they should give all of this money to this one cause, like this charity is absolutely the best. She wasn’t explaining to them how social change happens and how it’s usually a whole bunch of different factors that go into saving the polar bears or curing cancer or whatever it is.

Lauren wanted to be explaining to a donor how they can navigate the charitable landscape and give in a way that means most to them, so that they can really understand how their money is impacting the issue that they want to change and what their effort is accumulating.

Being intentional with your giving

Lauren founded Thoughtful Philanthropy to help you really understand the strategy charities you’re interested in are adopting and how they’re spending your money.

She works both with people wishing to give directly, as well as with financial planners to help their clients incorporate charitable giving into their financial plan.

Mostly, these conversations occur around retirement, because that’s the time when people’s finances are a little bit more certain. They have some time coming up perhaps and they want to think about a lasting legacy.

How the process works

Lauren will have a series of conversations usually with the financial planner about what the clients’ interests are.

She then does a bunch of research and puts together a very tidy, clear report on the different charities working on the issues of importance to the client. She considers:

  • What are the different opportunities for giving?
  • What are the different levels of giving?
  • What are some opportunities for volunteering and skills-based giving?

The adviser will then discuss the report with the donor, or client, to determine what would make the most sense given the overall financial plan for the individual or couple.

Meet 80 year old Nora

“I’m working right now with a woman who’s approaching 80. She’s a widower and she is thinking about her legacy.

She is a retired social worker and she is currently involved in an organisation where she works one day a week. They help families with mental health challenges and other issues that they’re going through. She helps the young mothers, as well as the children navigate the social care system, and helps with the care that this organisation is giving to them directly.

Nora is wanting to think about how she’s becoming less able to give her time, how she could dedicate a portion of her assets to this organisation, but also to the wider issue of mental health care.

She has a granddaughter who struggled with her own mental health. She wants to give in a very intentional way to two or three organisations that are working on this issue very directly in a way that makes sense to her.”

Charities are not Tesco – the transparency issue

The million-pound question for charities is “Is my donation being well spent?”

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer because the real challenge is that a charity is not a Tesco.

If you look at the financials of Tesco, you can find out what are they paying in, what are they paying out, and see that they’re making a profit. They’re delivering on shareholder value.

You look at a charity and their goal is social change, which does not come out on a balance sheet. It’s very, very difficult to evaluate.

There is a movement to do more evaluation of charity work, which is really welcome, but it is really difficult.

At the end of the day, it can be very subjective. Does a charity spend, that is working on homelessness, do they spend all of their money on beds for homeless people or do they put their money into mental health and substance abuse support?

The benefits of working with a philanthropic adviser

It really comes down to the individuals running a particular charity and trusting them to use their experience and their knowledge of the field to use your donations in the most effective way.

That’s where it’s sensible to work with a philanthropic adviser because they help you understand the strategy that these organisations are using and make sure that it makes sense to you.

You can listen to my interview with Lauren Janus on The Retirement Café Podcast from 4th June 2019.

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Mary Jordan’s mother-in-law was suffering from dementia. But because she wouldn’t visit the doctor, Mary resorted to reading books in the public library to try and self-diagnose the condition.

This early experience of dementia led Mary into a life-long career, involving a period of time working for Alzheimer’s Society as a Dementia Support Worker and then qualifying to deliver the Alzheimer’s Society CrisP programme. As a Dementia Support Worker Mary got to know somebody with dementia and stayed with them for their whole journey. From when they were diagnosed until they died.

Mary has written a number of books about caring and dementia, including ‘The Essential Carer’s Guide’ – which she wrote after caring for her mother-in-law, ‘The Essential Guide to Avoiding Dementia’, and The Essential Carer’s Guide to Dementia, culminating in the most recent book co-authored with Dr Noel Collins, The D Word: Re-thinking Dementia.

Making society part of the solution

Mary believes that dementia wouldn’t be so difficult if society dealt with it better.

We tend to distance people with dementia, out of fear or a lack of knowledge of how to deal with people. Society tends to say … oh dear, you’ve got dementia, let’s ignore you more or less. Let’s put you away somewhere and just try not to think about it too much because you’re cuckoo. That’s how society acts.

Mary felt that if people were made to feel a continued part of society and the society was more gentle towards them, that people with dementia could live a happier life.

Many people describe a dementia diagnosis as a fate worse than death. That’s how people see it. What Noel and Mary were trying to convey is that it’s not. That you still continue to live, you’re still yourself and if society were gentler towards you, you’d be able to function and continue in society and have an enjoyable life.

Mary would like to see a lot of practical changes in things like street signage that would make it easier for people with dementia to get about and understand where they are. And she’d like to see a change in things like clubs. Mary issues a challenge in the book to rotary clubs, WIs, anything like that for those running the clubs to accept people with dementia.

AdaptDementia

Mary co-founded AdaptDementia after recognising that the Alzheimer’s Society have moved more into the research area and have dropped a lot of their hands-on services to people.

Mary wanted to be helping people now. Research is very important, but Mary wanted to help people who were dealing with dementia now. So she founded her own company to do this hands-on helping.

Cognitive Stimulation Therapy

Mary offers cognitive stimulation courses for people with dementia. Cognitive stimulation therapy is the only therapy recommended by NICE for dementia. It’s not a drug, it’s a group therapy and it’s in short supply because there just aren’t enough people to deliver it.

It involves people in small groups, about 10 people, which enables people to talk and relax and feel themselves. Each activity they do is designed to stimulate a different area of the brain. So it’s a very specific therapy.

In some areas it is available via the national health service and social services, but Mary’s organisation delivers it privately.

People need people

Mary believes that what people with dementia need most is another person. It’s very difficult for them to live on their own and even with technological help, it would be very difficult for them. They need somebody to show them how to work the technology. So it’s really about socialising. It’s about people needing people.

Accept support to manage for longer

Very few people want to accept support when a diagnosis is received. Everyone wants to manage. They don’t want to bother people.

Initially, you may be able to manage, but dementia is a progressive disease and what’s happening now is not what’s going to happen later. Mary would say to people to accept support, any support that’s offered to you.

You can listen to Mary’s interview on The Retirement Café Podcast from 21st May 2019.

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A real financial planner

Most people don’t hire a financial planner in retirement because they can’t work out what to do themselves, given the time and inclination.

You hire a financial planner because they’re not you. We all have our blind spots. And it’s a real challenge for anyone to be able to manage money successfully themselves without becoming emotionally attached to it.

You struggle to move forward because you put a million obstacles in the way.

A real financial planner listens and understands you, asks really good questions and is totally transparent. They’re an independent third party who’s able to say, “Let’s look at this from a different angle” and help you make better decisions about money.

So what else should you look out for in a real financial planner?

A great relationship with your financial planner will see you sharing your goals and dreams. One of the greatest benefits your financial planner can bring to the table is to give you the space to talk about money in a way you’ve never talked about it before.

If they can help cut through all the noise around money and investing and simplify it in a way that you understand, that’s valuable.

Separated by a common language

Even when you’re talking the same language, there are times when your financial planner may be saying one thing, but you hear something different.

Risk and uncertainty are a classic example.

Your financial planner will be using these words and in their mind, they’re thinking about a statistical measurement. About something that can be measured and controlled, because we use terms like risk management and risk assessment.

But you are likely to be thinking something completely different. For some people, the word risk means ‘Am i going to be living on the streets next week if I get this wrong? Will my greatest fear come to pass?’ Another way of looking at risk for people outside of the financial world is that it’s what’s leftover after we’ve considered everything else.

A real financial planner will, of course, manage the technical risks when it comes to building a portfolio and considering insurance etc, but what they also need to be is comfortable going into the ‘space that’s left over’.

The space left over

A real financial planner will look you in the eyes and say, “I understand why you are scared. Let me walk you through the things we’ve done and then let’s get back to what you are feeling. Because I understand and I’m going be here for you.

If something uncertain shows up, I’ll be a guide in this new landscape and I’ve got tools in my backpack to deal with that situation.

We don’t even know what it is yet but I’m going be here for you.

I know you well enough that I can walk you in off that ledge or guide you through this forest or whatever it is I need to do and that’s the real role.”

So a real financial planner will have both the technical expertise and the emotional language and empathy to be really there for someone.

He’s an empathetic human being who understands that there is an art and a science to giving real advice.

I chat about the qualities of a real financial planner on episode 027 of The Retirement Café Podcast with The Sketch Guy, Carl Richards. Take a listen here.

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At the age of 50, Eddie Brocklesby decided to run her first half marathon. Until that point, she’d done little running, and her exercise regime consisted of little more than chauffeuring her children to their own sports clubs. In common with so many people, any interest she’d shown in sport in her childhood had diminished as her adult life progressed, with spare time becoming ever more limited in the face of work and family commitments.

After that event, and following the loss of her husband of thirty years to cancer, she completed a marathon. Now, 76 years old, the past twenty years has seen Eddie take part in marathons, triathlons and Ironman races across the globe and she has accrued many medals and awards.

At age 72 she became the oldest British woman to complete Iron-distance triathlon.

The Irongran story

In her book, Irongran, published in 2018, Eddie looks back on her life and explains just how she’s managed to develop the energy to match the enthusiasm she’s always had for an active lifestyle.

She shares the difficulties she’s experienced in her sporting endeavours, and explains how she’s managed to overcome them.

Eddie is passionate about the health and wellbeing of a population which is living longer and provides up to date research about why keeping active in later years is so important, along with guidance about how to remain full of life in your later years.

Helping us age whilst remaining fit and healthy

Eddie helped to found Silverfit in 2013 a charity promoting lifelong fitness and fun, raising awareness of the benefits of physical activity and social inclusion for the over 50s. Data analysis is revealing great outcomes: – high retention rates and reduced demands on the NHS and social care.

Silverfit is helping inactive older people to live life to the full, independently and happily and has expanded rapidly, providing weekly opportunities for physical activity in ten varied locations across London. Using volunteer Silverfit Ambassadors and skilled instructors, Silver Days offer a choice of activities according to venue.

Eddie was recently awarded the British Empire Medal, the BEM for `Services to the Health and Wellbeing of Older People’, in recognition for all her charitable work with the older generation.

The importance of social interaction

Eddie comments on Silverfit: “The greatest cost to the NHS is probably falling over in older people and I think if we can help people get their strength up in their muscles and avoid falling over and also getting out of the house and avoiding the loneliness of ageing too, that’s really, really important.

We’ve got very good evidence that it does make a difference. Part of our mission would be to campaign as an organisation that’s run by older people, for older people, I think that’s quite a useful one; that we started off with that it’s never too late to start and change your lifestyle and adopt a happier, social and more physically active lifestyle as we age.”

They welcome people from the age of 45 upwards, but the average age is currently 68.

Sessions start with a meet and greet, followed by an activity of some sort – from Nordic walking, to Pilates to the Silver Cheerleading – then most importantly, there’s a social gathering afterwards. Eddie knows that the social element is what keeps people coming back time and again. It’s just so important for our ageing society.

You can hear Eddie’s full interview on The Retirement Café Podcast from Tuesday 7th May 2019.

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It’s good to be trusting.

Unfortunately, sometimes our trusting nature results in us getting taken advantage of. That’s what happened to Christine, a client I’ve worked with for many years, who was keen for me to share her story.

Christine’s story

The guttering and soffits on Christine’s house needed replacing. A local roofing company initially quoted £16,000 for the work, then lowered this to £10,000 when Christine queried the price. On refusing to award them the work, the company eventually agreed a price of £5,600.

Despite being given very basic paperwork relating to the work, Christine made detailed notes herself of the work that should have been carried out.

Sometime soon after the work was completed, a friend who was helping Christine with another maintenance job noticed that the previous work had been done very poorly. He took multiple pictures, which clearly showed the rotten wood had not been replaced as agreed and new soffits were fixed to thin air.

The recourse

When Christine explained that she had paid for the work by credit card, her friend encouraged her to call her bank immediately. The bank pursued a claim against the builders and, 12 months later, Christine was fully refunded.

The key lessons learned include:

– Get a detailed quotation to outline exactly what work will be carried out

– Pay by credit card where possible – the protection is hugely beneficial

It is easy to fall victim to dishonest tradespeople. According to National Trading Standards, 85% of victims of doorstep scams are aged 65 and over. Age UK publish guidance on what to do if you think you’ve been scammed, which you may like to read on their website.

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