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
Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45095021?intlink_from

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.

National Savings to cut Direct ISA rate


National Savings and Investments (NS&I) is cutting the interest rate it pays on its Direct Individual Savings Account (ISA), affecting nearly 400,000 savers.

From 24 September, NS&I will reduce the rate on its Direct ISA from 1.00% to 0.75%.

Some 387,000 people held Direct ISA accounts in March this year, holding a total of £4.6bn.

NS&I said the decision to cut the rate was taken in order “to deliver positive value for taxpayers”.

The savings body is set a specific fund-raising target by the Treasury each year.

Jill Waters, NS&I retail director, said: “We have taken the decision to reduce the interest rate on our Direct ISA to deliver positive value for taxpayers.

“As part of our operating framework, we must ensure that we continue to strike a balance between the needs of our savers, taxpayers and the stability of the broader financial services sector.”

In March this year, NS&I cut the interest rate it paid on Guaranteed Growth and Income Bonds, saying the products had proved too popular since they were launched in December.

Government rules mean NS&I is not allowed to attract too much cash, in fairness to taxpayers and so as not to destabilise the savings market.

NS&I introduced the Direct ISA in April 2008 with an interest rate of 5.3%, but the rate has been slashed since then.

Returns on ISAs in general have declined sharply during the past decade of low interest rates, which have discouraged many people from putting money away.

If you have any queries regarding this article, please do not hesitate to contact ICF Financial Services on 01482 638300.

Source – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44846629

David Weston: Work Experience

This week I spent my time at ICF Financial Services in the Melton office on a valuable work experience placement. I’ve always been interested in financial services, accountancy and banking etcetera, so I believed that this week would be an insightful introduction into the industry I’m looking into for my career.

After my friendly introduction, I began completing a fact find for a new client based on their personal details, occupation, income, expenditure and their required financial services which in this case was mortgage advice. I then completed some office duties including scanning and printing whilst franking letters to be sent to both clients and providers. In the afternoon, I shadowed alongside a mortgage advisor to source the best possible mortgage available for an individual client’s needs and requirements. For this, I was taught some of the key skills on how to use the sourcing software and learnt more on fixed rates, variable rates, interest only and other termed mortgages. I also developed more of an understanding on the updated General Data Protection Agreements and its importance to be used between company and client.

For Tuesday, I worked on the social media sites for the company; I looked at finding an article from the BBC and ThisIsMoney to post on ICF’s blog. I picked various suitable articles that relate to the financial services ICF provide before adapting the article to post on the blog with links to it from the official ICF Facebook and Twitter. The article was named ‘Do You Want a Comfortable Pension Pot?’ and can be found on the blog from earlier this week. Reading multiple articles widened by knowledge on people’s day to day experience of mortgages, pensions and buy-to-let schemes available. Later that day I shadowed a financial advisor on the Client Assyst software used by the company where I set up new clients and witnessed how the advisors use the database for ease, to stay up to date with clients and understand what their colleagues are working on to finalise all the jobs on the action plan.

The next day I shadowed a Mortgage Admin where we completed a product transfer for a client’s mortgage, completed tasks on the action plan for Client Assyst and studied how the business contacts clients regularly to smoothly keep the database updated and provide the advice that is best suited to the client. Afternoon, I worked on Pension Calculations which were more interesting than I expected them to be! We completed some retirement plans for pensions with some real-life tasks which included income, expenditure, savings, state pension and contributions but also how pensions are invested into shares on the FTSE 100 based on the Attitude to Risk Assessments carried out with the client. I also looked deeper into the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee and government’s national insurance contributions.

I returned on Friday to the office and began working alongside a Senior Paraplanner to begin working on a client’s life and critical illness insurance. We used the comparison software to find the best possible provider of insurance whilst considering the client’s needs working with a budget but keeping the potential claim suitable. I then followed this through where I began completing an application for this insurance: taking into account the health of the clients. I finished my week of experience in the afternoon where I worked with the Office Manager on the full process of sourcing a mortgage to producing an illustration for a client before looking at how the company files and registers the commission it has received.

I have really enjoyed my week’s experience at ICF Financial Services and it has given me an incredible insight into the industry I may like to work in. I’d like to say thank you to everyone in the office for the knowledge they’ve given me and for making me feel so welcome!