Ben Adams: Work experience

This week I have spent three days working at ICF financial services office in Melton gaining valuable new information on the financial services industry that will help me massively in my future career endeavours and also gaining key work place skills that will help me later on in my working career.

On the Monday morning I was welcomed warmly by all the staff and introduced to the sort of tasks that I would be performing over the next three days. Then I began shadowing an administrator and observed the duties that an administrator carries out on a day to day basis such as checking client details and various other tasks. During this period of shadowing I learnt how to do many different administrative duties such as making copies and scanning documents that helped me assist others throughout the week. After that I worked with the social media team in order to produce a blog entry that would be relevant for the clients of ICF.I then found an article online which I edited and then posted onto the ICF blog. In the afternoon I worked with a mortgage advisor on the Trigold system which gave me a valuable insight into how mortgages work and the various different types of mortgages that are available such as fixed, variable and endowment. I was also shown the process that is undertaken in order to find the best mortgage possible that fits the client’s needs. I then filled in a fact find on an existing client which gave me an insight into the many different factors that are involved when someone is choosing a mortgage.

On Tuesday I was shown a pension forecast and looked at cashflow diagrams with a paraplanner. This also educated me on all of the types of pension that people’s money can be invested into and factors that can affect someone’s pension and also how market crashes can affect someone’s pension. Then with the paraplanner we created a hypothetical person and observed how factors such as their monthly income can affect what age they will have to work until if they wanted their pension to last. In the afternoon I inputted a fact find on a new client into a life insurance policy. I found this very interesting as it showed me the sheer number of factors that can contribute to how expensive someone’s life insurance premium will be.

On Wednesday I worked with a paraplanner and learnt about protection plans that are put in place on people’s mortgages. I also compared different plans for a specific client and decided which plan was best suited to the needs of the client. I was given an insight into just how important life cover and critical illness cover is for mortgages to ensure that people do not carry over debt for their loved ones to have to deal with once they are gone.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time, over the last three days, that I have spent at ICF financial services and I feel like I have gained vital information that I would need to pursue a career in financial services. Finally, I would like to say a massive thank you to all the staff at ICF for being so kind and helpful towards me.

BUDGET 2018 – What we already know

BUDGET 2018 – What we already know…

Through a combination of authorised pre-briefing, detailed leaks, and whispered asides in the parliamentary lobby, we now know a fair chunk of what the chancellor may say at 15.30 today.

By Browsing the various news sources this morning, we’ve put together eight things that potentially look to be nailed on in the budget, plus three more that look very probable.

The Chancellor will deliver his Budget speech at 15.30 – and there are some announcements that look certain to be in there.

  1. The Chancellor may announce in the Budget that at least one tenth of the £20billion-a-year extra funding promised for the NHS will go to improving mental health services. He could also say the £2billion-plus annual boost will help deliver a commitment to give patients suffering from mental health conditions the same level of care as those with physical ailments. This could potentially include full time mental-health support in every school.
  2. A £30billion upgrade for England’s motorways and other major routes paid for by road tax is also supposedly going to be announced. The lump sum is possibly planned to be invested over five years to improve and maintain motorways and major routes. This may also constitute a 40 per cent increase in highways spending and could potentially be the biggest ever injection of cash for roads in UK history. It may also be backed by a further £420million for councils to fix potholes and £150million to improve road junctions
  3. A £1.5billion bailout for the High Street that includes slashing business rates for independent retailers could be unveiled. Mr Hammond’s high street rescue plan, if unveiled, will be aimed at halting the spiralling number of closures of shops and pubs. This may include £900m of immediate business rates relief and relaxing town planning laws. There could also be a new £650m fund to improve infrastructure and transport and to re-develop empty shops as homes and offices and restore and re-use old and historic properties.
  4. There could also be £800million to 1billion extra funding for adult social care and potentially about half that for the Armed Forces.
  5. A £60million pledge to plant more trees to help preserve the country’s environment may also be unveiled at 15:30 this afternoon.
  6. Plans may also be put in place to move people trapped on ‘payday loans’ to zero-interest Government loans
  7. A potential review into whether marriage licensing rules should be relaxed so ceremonies can take place in pubs and outdoors.
  8. Potential plans to maintain the freeze on fuel duty for the ninth consecutive year.
There are also other things that may also be included, such as:
  1. Some sort of rescue package could be put in place to salvage the Government’s flagship Universal Credit welfare reform – but no one knows quite what.
  2. Some sort of movement towards potentially raising more tax from the global tech giants.
  3. Some sort of strategy to possibly improve rural broadband access and speeds.


This article was written by Adrian Lowery for

Katie Cornes Work Experience

During the week commencing 6th August I spent 3 days at ICF Financial Services gaining some very valuable experience within the business and to investigate this area in a real-life situation gaining insight into this being a possible opportunity of a career in the near future.

On Monday I was warmly welcomed by all the staff and went through a short introduction noting what I will be doing for the next 3 days before I began my work looking at creating portfolio reports and fact finds on active clients to prepare for commencing reviews that were soon to take place. As part of this it was made sure that all the documents that were needed for the review were all organised and placed in a folder ready to be used. Also, as part of this I carried out numerous administration duties such as scanning in relevant documents, printing and filing documents ready for actions to be taken out, scanning and organising all the post received by the company and making sure any actions are carried out where relevant. From learning these basic administration tasks on my first day, I could carry these with me through the week to help manage other tasks I would take on.
During the afternoon on Monday I shadowed the work of producing a review document in further detail and therefore enhancing what I learnt in the morning to real-life situations. This included switching funds within an ISA and comparing values within a pension over 6 months by calculating percentage changes and its analysing their current performance.

On Tuesday I did work for the marketing and social media team in which I chose a relevant article from the internet to use in editing and designing before finally publishing on the ICF main website as part of their blog and their twitter social media page.
Going into the afternoon I shadowed work looking into mortgage admin where I learnt how to set up new clients and new businesses on the internal management system which included entering their personal data and looking into mortgage compliance too. Furthermore, the paperwork involved in processing the data onto the management system had to then be organised into a folder in the correct order and making sure all the documents are there and dated using a checklist.

On Wednesday I spent time with the independent financial planner looking into cash flow forecasts based around people’s pension plans including how long their money will last, ways in which adaptations can prolong this and how market crashes at different points in their life would affect the length of time the money lasts for. Moreover, as part of this I conducted a basic cash flow chart on myself which was interesting to see how putting into a pension early can really benefit me later in life and ways in which I can prepare for the best future possible.
Later in the day I worked with the senior administrator looking into life and critical illness cover quotes and using these to balance up which cover is best to take. In order to do this, we looked at the criteria relevant and then the protection provide within the cover to make sure the most relevant and beneficial cover is selected.

Overall, I have extremely enjoyed my 3 days working with ICF Financial Services and most of all I believe I have gained very valuable insight into the world of financial services as it is definitely an option I wanted to look further into for my future career and now with this gained experience I have better opportunity in gaining my dream career in finance. Most of all I’d like to say a massive thank you to all the team for the help and knowledge they’ve provided me with and the kind welcome I was provided with in this brilliant opportunity.

UK House Price Growth Accelerates

UK house prices picked up last month, rising at the fastest annual pace since November, the Halifax has said.

The lender says prices in the three months to July rose by 3.3% from a year earlier, with the average cost of a house hitting a record £230,280.

Prices in July rose a stronger-than-expected 1.4% from the month before.

Despite the rises, Halifax said housing activity remained “soft”. It also said it did not expect last week’s interest rate rise to have much impact.

The Halifax’s latest survey echoed that of rival Nationwide, which also reported a pick-up in the annual rate of price growth in July.

Nationwide said annual house price growth accelerated to 2.5% in July, with the cost of the average home rising to £217,010.

Last week, the Bank of England raised its key interest rate to 0.75% from 0.5%, which is set to affect the 3.5 million people with variable or tracker mortgages.

However, the Halifax said it did not anticipate that the rise would have a “significant effect on either mortgage affordability or transaction volumes”.

The lender added it did not expect much pick-up in activity for the rest of 2018.

“Despite the recent modest improvement in mortgage approvals, the latest survey data for new buyer enquiries and agreed sales suggest that approvals will remain broadly flat until the end of the year,” said Russell Galley, managing director at the Halifax.

“In contrast, the labour market remains robust, with the numbers of people in employment rising by 137,000 in the three months to May with much of the job creation driven by a rise in full-time employment.

“Pressures on household finances are also easing as growth in average earnings continues to rise at a faster rate than consumer prices.”

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, said that, despite the spike in prices reported by the Halifax, “we doubt that the housing market is starting to see a marked upturn”.

“We expect house price gains over 2018 will be limited to around 2.5%. At this stage, we expect prices to rise no more than 3% in 2019.”

If you have any questions about how this may affect you, contact ICF Financial Services by phone on 01482638300 and we are always happy to help.

This article was written by BBC News

Bank of England raises UK interest rates – What can this mean for your mortgage repayments?

Bank Interest Rates


The Bank of England has raised the interest rate for only the second time in a decade. The rate has risen by a quarter of one percent, from 0.5% to 0.75% – the highest level since March 2009.

The move will increase the interest costs of more than three-and-a-half million mortgages that have variable or tracker rates. But it will be welcomed by savers, who could see a lift in their interest rates over the coming months. However, after the last rate rise in November, half of savings accounts did not move at all.

More than 3.5 million  mortgages are on a variable or tracker rate. This would mean that for a person with a £150,000 variable mortgage, a rise to 0.75% interest rate is likely to increase the annual cost by £224. The reasoning behind why it could affect your mortgage repayments can be found below.

Why are they doing this now?

The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee had been expected to raise interest rates in May, but held fire because the economy went through a weak patch at the start of the year.

Led by governor Mark Carney, the Bank is now confident that the dip was temporary, and that economic growth will recover from the 0.2% rate seen in the first quarter, to 0.4% in the second quarter and maintain that pace later in the year.

The pick-up is being supported by household spending, which the Bank said had been “erratic” earlier in the year. It is also believed that the recent series of store closures on the High Street does not reflect a lack of appetite for shopping.

What is the outlook?

  • The Bank sees continuing “modest” economic growth of 1.4% this year and an increase to 1.8% next year.
  • The unemployment rate is expected to fall further from 4.2% and wage growth is expected to pick up.
  • Inflation is forecast to fall back to 2% – the Bank of England’s target – by 2020.
  • The Bank sees some clouds on the economic horizon.

It said the outlook for the global economy was a bit gloomier, partly owing to the trade war between the US and China which has seen tariffs imposed on a range of goods.

It also highlighted a slowdown in the UK housing market this year, which has been “concentrated in London”, where mortgage completions are down 12% on 2016.

What happens next?

The Bank is sticking to its guidance that interest rates will continue to head higher, but only at gradual pace and to a limited extent. The financial markets have taken this on board and are forecasting one, and perhaps two, rises of 0.25% before 2020.

It also seems unlikely the UK will return to interest rates of 5% and above. In its inflation report, the Bank published what it thinks is the natural interest rate for the UK economy. It puts that at between 2% and 3%.

If you think that the increase in interest rates will affect you or you wish to discuss any other matters discussed within this article, then please do not hesitate in contacting ICF Financial Services on 01482 638300 where we will be happy to help.

This article was written by BBC News.