The world we live in is increasingly on-demand and technology has made it possible for us as consumers to easily get what we need from multiple sources. Personal finance advice and products are no different. But is that the best way to make important financial decisions about your future? When it comes to entertainment, the world is no longer linear. The very idea of having to plan a night’s television viewing, for example, is preposterous. TV shows, film and music is now just a download away, allowing us to build our viewing and listening experiences into the demands of modern life. Our online environment has made ownership of our personal finance environment similarly accessible. At the stroke of a key or click of a mouse, we can compare hundreds if not thousands of different personal finance products, from loans and credit cards to mortgages and insurance. And while that’s obviously very convenient, does it actually serve our best interests? If we visit a mortgage comparison website, we can see the interest rate and the repayment amount – but do we understand what that means in the context of our own lives? Some of us are savvy enough to be able to look at a range of mortgage products and take a step back to consider how our lives might change as the years pass, making decisions about our borrowing accordingly. Some people will be able to look at economic trends or industry patterns and make calculated decisions about their long-term employment prospects, and that will help them to make key decisions about the level of income protection they might need. Many people will know there’s a difference between standard buildings and contents insurance and the property insurance they might need if they rent out their property. Similarly, there are lots of people who can look at their family medical history and draw pragmatic conclusions about their own long-term health and the advantages of having health insurance in place. But does everyone possess this ability? Is everyone able to take a long pace back and look at their financial options in the context of their own lives? More importantly, do you have the knowledge and objectivity to do that – and to get it right? Part of the problem with living in an on-demand world is that price becomes the key to everything. Type ‘health insurance’ into Google and at the top of the results page that comes back will be a load of adverts from price comparison sites. And that’s the problem – price comparison sites are not benefit comparison sites. They don’t know you and they can’t tailor the product to you. All they can do is present you with a list of products, starting with the cheapest. And that isn’t the same as presenting you with the best, even if price is likely to be a factor in your decision. The same is true of any similar search around mortgages, property insurance, or income replacement cover. The online market is geared to giving you choices that are defined by cost first and benefit second. That carries an obvious risk: that in choosing the cheapest product available, you’ll be buying a product that doesn’t actually offer you the cover or benefit you expected it would. And if that happens, the chances are you’ll find out when it’s too late. There are all sorts of products that are directly available online or promoted as part of a price comparison service that could be said to be relatively low risk: car insurance, pet insurance and appliance cover are three that spring easily to mind. That’s not to say choosing the wrong cover in those cases isn’t costly. On the contrary, in fact – an error can be painfully expensive. But borrowing hundreds of thousands of pounds to buy a property, insuring its value or being able to pay your bills and keep your home in the event of being unable to work is a step up from those kinds of annual policies where relatively small – or at least well-defined – sums of money might be involved. That’s why asking advice from a professional adviser is always a good idea. A professional mortgage or insurance provider will be able to offer you advice ‘in the round’ – in other words, advice that’s informed by your complete financial circumstances. He or she will recommend policies or options that will give you the peace of mind and certainty you need, without jeopardising your financial security or your ability to meet your financial obligations. Taking decisions in isolation by yourself is a right and privilege that comes with digital empowerment. It has many positive things to commend it. But it can also be a dangerous environment that can have a serious impact on your future security. No reputable adviser will charge you for an initial chat, so you have nothing to lose by calling a professional individual or business you trust and fin ding out how they can help. If you’d like to talk about your own circumstances and needs, we’re listening. Want to find out about your mortgage options? Take a look at our short guide to remortgaging. To find out more about our friendly and professional mortgage service, fees and what we can do to help make sure you’re not paying over the odds for your mortgage, why not visit www.oportfolio.co.uk or give us a call on 020 7371 5063. Oportfolio Limited is an appointed representative of Primis Mortgage Network, a trading name of First Complete Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority Your property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage. Oportfolio Ltd fees are payable on application. We charge a broker fee for property purchases of £495 and a remortgage/further advance fee of £395. Our product transfer fee is £295.
None of us like to dwell on the unpleasant things that life might throw at us. Whether it’s planning for death or illness, humans seem to generally prefer to postpone the bleaker considerations in life. Yet, planning for the problems you could face is vital if you want to have peace of mind over your future and the financial security of the people who matter to you. You’ve probably already got life assurance to cover things like the remainder of your outstanding mortgage debt in the event you or your partner dies before the loan is repaid. You might even have critical illness cover, which will pay out a lump sum on diagnosis of a specific range of illnesses. The insurance product you probably don’t have – but might be wise to have – is income protection cover, also known as income replacement cover. There are various levels of income replacement cover, but in simple terms income protection guarantees you a monthly sum of money – usually up to 80% of your salary – if you suddenly find you’re unable to work. Income protection should not be confused with payment protection insurance (PPI), though it often is. PPI, now at the centre of probably the largest mis-selling compensation process in UK financial services history, was supposed to guarantee your payments on debts to lenders and was often sold to consumers with a loan, hire purchase agreement, credit card, overdraft or mortgage. That meant any payment from a PPI claim went directly to your creditor and not to you personally. Conversely, income replacement or protection does what it says on the tin: it replaces your income to a specified level and for a specified period of time when you’re not earning, giving you financial support with all of your living costs rather than just your debts. The question is, do you need income protection? The short answer is that it depends on your individual circumstances and you should always seek professional advice before making any investment decision. An adviser will be able to help you judge whether or not you’ll benefit from the policy. One good idea is to find out whether your current employer offers a form of income replacement as part of its employee benefit scheme. It may also be that your employer offers a generous sick pay package which might cover your outgoings if you had an extended illness. But for many people, income replacement offers peace of mind in an uncertain world. The truth is, we usually buy insurance products in the hope that we’ll never need to claim against them. However, none of us knows what’s around the corner, and so prudent planning is a sensible step. Income replacement or protection could be useful if you’re forced to take an extended leave of absence through illness or if you lose your job through compulsory redundancy, for example. There are generally three categories of income protection: policies that cover activities of daily living, suited occupation or own occupation and although the specific terms of each may vary from provider to provider, they generally cover the following eventualities: Activities of daily living: the lowest and cheapest form of cover, this policy only pays out if specified activities – perhaps lifting or walking – become impossible for you. The benefits of this cover are generally regarded as limited. Suited occupation: if you have this level of cover, you’re unlikely to receive a pay out if your insurer thinks you are able to perform a role that is similar to the one you held when you became unable to work. An example might be a nurse who is unable to work in a private health clinic but who could be employed within the NHS. Own occupation: this cover insures you for the specific role you were in when you became unable to work. It is, not surprisingly, the most expensive of the three, but offers the highest level of cover. You’ll need to think about other things, too: whether or not to take out a policy that’s index linked to inflation – meaning any pay out will also rise with it (remembering that your premiums will also rise with it) what deferral period you need before a claim is paid out – the longer you’re prepared to wait between making a claim and receiving an income, the lower your premiums are likely to be (your employer’s policy on sick pay could inform this choice) Will your premiums be fixed for the life of the policy, or will they be reviewable, meaning they could rise every few years? When would you want the policy to finish? It’s common for the end of a policy to coincide with planned retirement – but if you’re likely to be working beyond state retirement age, you may require a longer policy, which may well increase the cost of your premiums. At Oportfolio, our friendly team is always happy to talk you through your options and, if you decide you need to protect your income, we can help you find a policy that best suits your needs. Want to know how other clients felt about working with Oportfolio? Watch Gus and Selena’s video story! To find out more about our friendly and professional mortgage service, fees and what we can do to help make sure you’re not paying over the odds for your mortgage, why not visit www.oportfolio.co.uk or give us a call on 020 7371 5063. Oportfolio Limited is an appointed representative of Primis Mortgage Network, a trading name of First Complete Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority Your property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage. Oportfolio Ltd fees are payable on application. We charge a broker fee for property purchases of £495 and a remortgage/further advance fee of £395. Our product transfer fee is £295.
It’s always lovely when the values you promote as a business are recognised publicly, so there was open delight at Oportfolio when the company’s founder, Oliver Whitehead, was named Best Overall Adviser at the recent Primis awards ceremony. It was Oliver’s third year of success at the awards, which recognise and celebrate the best UK mortgage and protection advisers and are organised by Primis – one of the biggest networks of financial services brokerages in the UK. His award this year saw him retain the Overall Adviser award he won in 2018, a year after being named Top Mortgage Adviser in 2017. The accolade serves as a ringing endorsement for the very simple principle that underpins Oliver’s approach to Oportfolio, a business he started 11 years ago following a decade in financial services, running his own mortgage brokerage and as a Director at Alexander Hall. Oliver said: “Ultimately what we strive to do is look after people in the same way we would want to be looked after ourselves. It’s that ethos of wanting to help people and to go the extra mile in doing it.” In the end, this month’s award is ongoing reward for a seed which was planted back in 1998 when Oportfolio first opened its doors and welcomed its first client – that the values and ethics that the company is built on should run through the veins of everyone who has ever worked there or will ever work there. Building a company in your own image is no easy feat and, as Oliver himself observes, providing high quality service has become something of a dying art for many companies. But by doing things the right way from the start, the process has got easier as the business has grown and its client base has increased. There’s also the fact that Oliver insists that the first contact the company has with a potential client is as good as the last contact. He makes a point of responding personally and immediately, wherever possible, to an initial query. You might think that’s obvious, yet this proactive approach isn’t as common as you might imagine. What that translates into in most cases is a sense in the person on the other end of the phone that they’re being looked after and are in safe hands. “I know that when people get in touch with us, what they’re really looking for is reassurance. They simply want some love and to know that the people they’re talking to not only know how to help them, but actively want to help them. “In the end, that’s what my business has always been about – the desire to help people and to do that in the right way.” Oliver concedes that his own determination and commitment to deliver a consistently superior level of service is partly behind not just the awards success, but also Oportfolio’s continued growth and high client retention rates. “That has to be a part of it, yes,” he admits. “although you can never completely replicate yourself in other people. “But experience and knowledge also plays a big part. The whole team here is completely aware of the process that lies behind applying for a mortgage. We know it can be an anxious or worrying time – but our job is to take that worry away, to reassure them that with our help it wont be as stressful as it may seem to them.” Knowing the market inside out and understanding which banks will be prepared to lend what amount under what circumstances is a big part of being a successful brokerage, of course. But it’s where circumstances aren’t straightforward that is where Oliver expects Oportfolio to earn its stripes. “That’s where the hard work is done,” he says. “In finding solutions to the problems we come across so that the people we’re helping still achieve what they set out to achieve.” All of which means that the awards that currently sit on Oportfolio’s shelves are much appreciated by Oliver and his team – but are really symbols of the hard work done in the past, and a reminder that the same level of commitment to the great service is required today, tomorrow and beyond. To find out more about our friendly and professional mortgage service, fees and what we can do to help make sure you’re not paying over the odds for your mortgage, why not visit www.oportfolio.co.uk or give us a call on 020 7371 5063. Your property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage. Oportfolio Ltd fees are payable on application. We charge a broker fee for property purchases of £495 and a remortgage/further advance fee of £395. Our product transfer fee is £295.
At Oportfolio, we know that success in life is only really possible when you have financial security – and in a competitive and challenging economic environment, that can be hard to come by. Having financial protection is one way of making sure you can meet your commitments when life throws you a curve ball and you find yourself unable to work whether through a change in employment circumstances or illness. But with so many different products on the market – and so many providers to choose from – working out which product is the right one for your potential needs isn’t always terribly easy, particularly since it’s impossible to predict exactly what your circumstances might be at any given time in the future. Two of the most familiar insurance products that protect your personal finances are critical illness cover and income protection insurance. So how do you make the choice between the two? Unless you have some specialist knowledge of the market, trying to evaluate and compare products yourself can risk making a choice that doesn’t really achieve what you wanted. The simple answer, of course, is to use a professional broker who can advise you on the best solution according to what you think you might require and can access a wide range of products to give you flexible options. What’s the difference between critical illness cover and income replacement? Understanding what you’re paying for and the way in which it might benefit you is the obvious first step when it comes to buying any product, whether that’s a dishwasher, a coat or an insurance policy. So let’s start there. Critical illness cover is an insurance policy which will pay out a fixed lump sum should you be unfortunate enough to contract one of a number of specified illnesses listed in your policy that stop you from earning. Crucially, if you contract a serious illness which isn’t listed on the insurance schedule, the policy will not pay out. Once a policy pays out, cover ends – so in most cases this type policy is valid for a single claim. Income protection cover is an insurance product that will replace your regular monthly income should you find yourself unable to work either permanently or temporarily for any reason as defined by the policy. If you’re able to return to work, the payments will cease; however, cover (and premiums) will usually continue, meaning that most policies of this type allow for multiple claims. What’s the cost? Inevitably, when it comes to both policies the cost depends on your circumstances, salary and the level of cover you require. The cost of replacing a salary of £80,000 is clearly going to be costlier than a policy that protects and income of £30,000, assuming all other circumstances are the same However, as a very broad rule of thumb, a report from FT Adviser suggests that to provide an income of £250,000 over 5 years (whether in instalments via income protection or a lump sum as critical illness), the cost of critical illness cover is about three times that of income protection. So, if income replacement is generally cheaper, is that a better option? Not necessarily, no. Critical illness outsells income replacement by roughly 5 to 1 in the UK because many people prefer to have a lump sum that will allow them to juggle their immediate priorities in a more flexible way. But although a lump sum will allow you to pay off, say, your mortgage, that’s of little use if you can’t then meet your other financial commitments. One also needs to come to a judgement over how and when you’re most likely to claim on either policy. Recent data, from the same FT Adviser report quoted above, suggests 60% of all income replacement claims are made as a result of accidents, stress or musculoskeletal conditions – none of which would be covered by a critical illness policy. By contrast, cancer – which is one of the conditions specified within a critical illness policy – accounts for only 15% of income replacement claims So, it’s clear that understanding the risks as well as the benefits are a fundamental part of choosing the right insurance product, and that’s why it makes sense to speak to a specialist professional adviser before you commit. It all seems very complicated. Why do I need income protection at all? While many companies offer some level of financial support for employees when they can’t work, very few provide that assistance beyond a year (and for many more, it’s much less). There are state benefits which are designed to offer some sort of help, but these would be unlikely to cover the financial commitments of a high earning individual. At Oportfolio, we’ll work closely with you to help you to identify the advantages and disadvantages of both types of insurance and recommend the best solution for you personally. Knowing you and your family are protected when times get tough is great for protecting your success in life – but deciding the best way of doing that requires expert knowledge and advice. To find out more about our friendly service why not visit www.oportfolio.co.uk or give us a call on 020 7371 5063 Please note for these insurance products terms and conditions apply. This information is a summary only. You will receive a full policy document upon application. This policy will set out the terms, conditions and limitations of cover provided under the plan Your property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage. Oportfolio Ltd fees are payable on application. We charge a broker fee for property purchases of £495 and a remortgage/further advance fee of £395. Our product transfer fee is £295.