The great European cashpoint swindle.

The link to book your free consultation is here. No obligation, no matter how complex. 

The great European cashpoint swindle

I’m not so sure about you but certainly I can confirm we are being ripped off  buy a good number of foreign banks that seem to be working in our best interest.  So let me run you by the is

sue as I see it.



There you are lazing around the pool enjoying a couple of days of beautiful sunshine, kids commanding ice creams and of course,  the need to make sure that you have some cash around for lunch and a copy of a British newspaper.  In recent years all of the European Banks have made it so much easier for us – just about everywhere they  accept debit and credit cards and of course the cashpoints work perfectly.

I didn’t really pay much attention to these until I checked some transactions for my own current account.

You may have noticed the options you and I are now given at a foreign cash point, the one that looks so friendly and gives us an option of withdrawing cash based on your selected amount – it will normally ask you something like ‘do you want to accept our currency conversion offer’ and sometimes will be quite insistent even asking ‘are you sure you want to do that’ when you click no.

It’s not only cash points, it’s often card machines – particularly in France and Spain where I seem to get  the same, seemingly  generous offer.

I wondered what all this was about, until I realised that  I was being double charged – banks don’t give away services for free. And that includes currency transactions.

If you accept the transaction ‘with conversion’ you will nearly always face a double charge, one from the bank that owns the cashpoint and one from your own bank. You’ll also be charged a worse exchange rate (based on my experience).

The simple solution to these additional costs are always to use the local currency option and let your bank deal with the transaction – or you’ll end paying twice for the transaction.

Now you know you’ll never be ripped off again.

Pension Charges – How Can You Reduce Yours?

There is a whole load you can do in order to reduce your pension charges – in fact is one of the easiest ways of making sure your retirement is more secure.

That said, there are some problems with pensions. I’ve written about these over at my ‘Money Education’ website.

You can download my free Pension, Pension Charges and Tax Relief Myth report.

Until next time.


Probate Services – Crawley, West Sussex.

The link to book your free consultation is here. No obligation, no matter how complex. 

In the event of a death there is a good chance you’ll be overwhelmed with the amount of paperwork and the number of things that need doing. WInding up someone else’s affairs was never going to be easy, It’s not something can ever prepare for; on top of the emotional issues – we’ve now got a pile of papers to sort through and a complex legal process to wander through. Then there is the issue of what to do next, who to call, what papers are needed and when…

Stop, get in touch with me today. I’ll gladly give you the information you need to start you off, you can then decide the things to tackle first. 15 minutes of telephone time, no cost, no obligation – I won’t even follow up with you unless you ask. The link is here

The link to book your free consultation is here. No obligation, no matter how complex.  remember 15 minutes your start in the process – and my very best advice – no charge/no obligation.

Probate – you’ll remember, it turns up in your mind like a great big scary, wild animal – and then you’ll start to remember the nightmares your parents had.

The choice of appointing a Solicitor, paying a large percentage of the estate in order to start getting things sorted, even then it takes months to sort out, or  DIY.

Unique Pay as You Go Service – No Charge If Not Delighted.

Over here at The Finance Zone I don’t just want to help you with your probate/probate application. I want to go the extra mile for you. This means
1. Any fees are fixed in advance – no surprises.
2. If you are not happy at any point – let me know and I’ll refund anything you’ve paid and return any papers.
3. Provide you with a ‘pay as you go – monthly’ service – which means you don’t have to find big chunks of cash upfront.
4. Probate usually completed in weeks not months.
5. Evening appointments not a problem.

The conundrum for you is what are your options?

  • Take time off work in order to deal with the paper and the endless forms that need completion.
  • Get together with a couple of family members and muddle through, using GOOGLE  to work through the difficult bits.
  • Buy a book on the subject and hope that helps.
  • So you speak to a couple of your friends and neighbours – only to find that they also faced similar problems to you and found  the only way to avoid the expensive and time-consuming paper chase was to hand the whole thing over to a local Solicitor and pay a small fortune in order to get the thing moving forward.

The key to all of this is, there is a different way of dealing with probate. After dealing with my own relative’s affairs and the probate system I started working with a number of clients who were in a similar situation to you – wanted someone else to take the strain, wanted some help with the paper chase process – but didn’t want to hand control to a third party solicitor.

So I now offer a couple of options for solving the probate problem – one that keeps you in control but takes only  a few weeks to solve a problem that mostly take months and sometimes years.

Probate Services – Crawley, West Sussex. – Probate help and guidance. One off fee £235 – you get all of the help and assistance you need in order to submit that application, guidance, forms and shortcuts. Allowing you to save money and keep control. I also provide template letters which allow you to move rapidly through the system.

Help You Probate Service – a fixed fee option that allows you to sit back and do little. You’ll benefit from my guidance and shortcuts as a trusted adviser – I’ll get all of the reporting done with you, submit all of the papers attend the interviews for you and make sure that things like pensions and tax matters are dealt with – at the same time making sure you don’t break
any of the rules or fall foul of any regulations – there are a few you’ll must be mindful of.

There are no surprises with this probate service, you end up with the peace of mind that your probate is being dealt with and keep control of the estate assets.

Even if you opt for the Borrow my Brain session first, you can offset the cost of this against the ‘done for you service’ either way you get access to the information and guidance you need without the time-consuming stress most face.

Call today or contact me using the form below.

    At a difficult time – a probate service you can rely on.

    All enquiries are treated in the strictest confidence and with no time pressure. I’ll also provide you with a copy of my Dying to Know workbook which outlines how you should prepare for your final days and what you should do.

    Care Fees – Care Home Costs

    Many people of a certain age are concerned about this issue, to the point where they are making decisions to alter or adapt their plans in the hope they will avoid having homes seized, sold and the money raised used to fund care.

    Bearing that in mind there are now many hundreds of ‘bad guys’ out there who are selling ‘care home fees avoidance‘ packages. Nearly all of these I’ve seen won’t work, don’t work and are an expensive ‘doorstep’ purchase.

    Now, there are somethings you can do, however Asset Protection plans will not work for you. If you’ve been sold one of these you should act now in order to claim a refund of your costs and unwind the whole thing.

    If you are worried about this area of planning, read this report first and do not act on any ‘doorstep’ seller.

    The report is below, no charge. When you are ready for some guidance on this area of your planning you’d better get in touch. I offer a money back guarantee on all work, not happy don’t pay, run a number of workshops across the county, which are free or low cost.

    But don’t, really don’t buy any doorstep asset protection trust before reading this free guide.

    Care Fees Planning – 2018 Report

    You can contact me here


      Personal Financial Planning – Care Fee’s | Bitcoin | Estate Planning

      In this article.

      Welcome to 2018.

      Stock Market Risks – Flight of capital.

      Bitcoin and other Crypto Currency

      Care Fees Planning – Scam Busting.

      Estate Planning – Will Writing


      2018 is with us. Like it or not we’ll seem more changes this year than we did in the last.

      The more erudite of the Sunday papers are asking if Mrs May will continue in office, my guess is  – it will depend on how childish some of her backbenchers get.

      Interesting to note that some of the so called ‘smart money’ has already started to leave the UK in advance of a Labour victory either before or after the next fixed election. I personally feel that this ‘money leaving’ is due to a few other reasons…

      UK Stock Markets at all time highs, driven by a weak pound which has increased earnings for some of the large businesses based on the UK but with income from the rest of world, as the pound starts to rise overseas profits will start to tumble.

      Interest rates have started to rise which will strengthen the pound but with Brexit we are all just guessing. My view for this year is more caution, but that’s been the case for a number of years now.

      Crypto Currency – once the Sun Money pages start to talk about any form of investing you can bet the ‘party is over’ and to a certain extent that’s true. The rise of Bitcoin and others has taken a few people by surprise.

      In the same way a winner in the Grand National at 100-1 or a greyhound at Hackney Dogs at 75-1 takes gamblers by surprise.

      Forget Bitcoin as an investment until you’ll accept it as payment for a second hand car or to have your pension paid in it. At the moment it’s very much a fad, like the internet was in 1998 – for geeks and speculators. Of course if you risk nothing you risk everything and Bitcoin is certainly higher risk than most other investments – for that reason there will be spectacular gains in the coming years and then some equally spectacular losses.

      Once things settle down we’ll be left with some new technology that makes a lot of sense. It’s been called the democratisation of money and I think this makes sense. The technology is very interesting and will change a lot for all us – but at the moment Crypto Currencies are a bet not an investment.

      Nursing Home Fees – Care Costs.

      I’ll keep coming back to this subject until it finally sinks in and the ‘bad guys’ stop peddling their wares to an unwary public. My ‘scam report’ is available here – Care Fees

      I don’t think for one moment we will see central Government accepting the costs of care for all of those that need it. For the same reason not everyone qualifies for housing benefit or other social security payments – not everyone will qualify to have their care costs covered.

      If you are in your twenties or thirties – there is little support to provide you with a roof over your head and the same process applies if you are in your 80’s – it’s just the way it is.

      Putting your home in a trust or any other scam you’d like to menton won’t work for Care Home costs in the same way it won’t work to claim Housing Benefit when you are fit and well. Sure there are some plans you can make and you should – just don’t try and avoid your responsibility.

      Wills and Trusts – are further in the spotlight with the changes introduced last year in relation to Inheritance Tax bands – honestly if you’ve not reviewed your estate planning or revised your Last Will and Testament in the last five years let me know – I’ll review it with you and let you know what do next.

      2018 is likely to bring more change than 2017  and 2016 combined. Personally I think that’s a good thing, sometimes things get a lot worse before they get better and we should be reminded of that more often. Stay safe and remember you can’t change events or happenings you can only change your reaction to them, sure there is plenty of negative and bad news to come, but there is also a lot of good stuff happening.


      0774 007 6226


      British Steel Pension – TATA

      *** January 2018 update ***

      The Financial Conduct Authority have now started to restrict a number of advisers who have been advising on BSPS and of course many of them transferring benefits. It seems that one firm has been ‘on the radar’ since 2016.

      From a pension advisory perspective, I find it disturbing that it has taken so long. It’s also fairly clear that the quality of the advice provided by at least one these firms is in question and it’s clear that they had in a place a marketing network within British Steel in order to peddle their poor advice.

      Couple of things spring to mind. How with modern regulation has this been allowed to happen?

      The  trustees of the British Steel pension scheme have questions to answer, the regulatory system has failed big time and TATA should certainly have put some systems in place.

      It was down to the likes of Frank Field and a number of industry advisers, to make sure many of these members got the guidance they wanted, and it’s obvious that big chunks of the financial advisory community still haven’t learned the lessons of the past – they are still making dodgy recommendations and offering poor advice.

      Sadly, it’s still buyer beware with pensions and pension planning. Fortunately, if you want the truth then I can help you.


      British Steel Pension Advice

      I had a rather disturbing call this morning from a member of the British Steel scheme; he told me that he felt under a great deal of pressure (and uncertain pressure at that) to make a decision between:-





      • Moving to the British Steel 2 scheme
      • Moving to the Pension Protection scheme
      • Transferring his pension to another provider  and giving up his guarantee.

      Problem is what should he do?

      Opinion – it would seem that the British Steel scheme is/has not able to produce correct statements and information about your individual benefits under the scheme – therefore any adviser providing transfer advice is likely to find that advice flawed.  YOU a British Steel Pension scheme member will need to stop, consider, understand and then act.

      Couple of things to note here.

      The main scheme details are here  British Steel Pension

      Just to be clear. If you are a member of the old scheme (closed March 2017)  you can still

      • Move your pension to a new employer
      • Draw on benefits before your normal retirement date
      • Draw you pension earlier.

      All of this information is on this web page British Steel Pension Members

      But there are some options, you can (and have to choose)  linked information here

      If he moves to the pension protection scheme (PPF)…

      The new scheme’s benefits are the same as the current scheme, except for offering lower yearly increases. For certain members in certain situations, the PPF offers higher benefits than the current scheme, and so higher than the new scheme. For example, if when you start taking your pension you swap some of your pension income for tax-free cash, the PPF is more generous when it works out how much cash you get. The new scheme has to be affordable, and it would have been too expensive to give all members better benefits than the PPF.

      Q: Could Pension Protection Fund benefits change in future? 

      They could, though the benefits that the PPF provides are set out in legislation. It is possible that the government could change this legislation. For example, quite recently the amount of the cap that applies to certain members’ PPF benefits was increased for members with more than 20 years’ pensionable service.

      The PPF is confident that it is currently in a strong financial position. If it became less strong in the future, there would be a number of options available to the PPF. One option would be to increase the levy that the PPF collects each year from the schemes it protects. The PPF legislation does allow the PPF or the Government to change member benefits – for example, it could reduce the maximum yearly increases it provides. However, reducing benefits would only be considered as an absolute last resort.

      In that short summary above you’ll note that under both a transfer to PPF and a transfer to BS2 you will still benefit from a guaranteed pension at retirement, but the basis for the calculations are different.

      In order to determine what is going to be the best option for you there needs to be simple comparison done.

      Both schemes offer different levels of tax free cash, different widows and spouses pensions and different levels of future increases.

      It’s these that are the main differences.

      Some of you with benefits under the British Steel main pension may have been approached by advisers offering you an option to transfer away, and indeed may have been offered ‘telephone number’ figures of what you could achieve.

      For me understanding the way these things work there are a couple of questions.

      • Can you afford the charges that come with these transferred plans. At least 2.5% per year on average – that 25% (twenty five percent) of your fund every ten (10) years.
      • Do you fully understand that you will give up valuable guarantee of benefits once you move.
      • Investment risk will be borne solely by you, your adviser or the transferring company will not accept any liability for investment market collapses or non performance of any pension fund (and most don’t perform that well).
      • Charges will be levied as and when you want to make changes to your pension – double charging.

      They key thing about your present predicament is this.

      Should you move from British Steel – to BS2 or the PPF?

      You can only decide that once you have worked through the comparison options. Moving to another provider in the form of a pension transfer to a personal pension or a self invested personal pension means you will be paying very high charges and lose your valuable guarantees.

      It would seem that many so called advisers are targeting British Steel employee’s and offering advice to transfer. I don’t see how that can be done correctly when, based on it’s own admission the British Steel Pension trustees have admitted to not being able to produce the correct figures for many staff.

      Your decision to move your pensions is a big one, don’t fall for the hype from the industry predators – frankly I am appalled that any adviser in this day and age is able to make a recommendation to switch on such limited and seemingly false information.

      Be very careful, if you have been approached by someone it’s likely you’ve been sold something you don’t want, don’t understand but will have paid dearly for it.

      Charges of £9,000 +£7500 ever year (based on a pot of £300k) are not unusual.

      Get in touch if you are not sure. Use this form.


        Meanwhile please read the links below, some of it’s a bit technical but you’ll soon get a feel.

        British Steel Pension Missing Data

        482 Pension Transfers made – industry wins by several millions.

        British Steel Pension Transfers

        Important for all British Steel Pension Members to read

        From Henry Tapper

        British Steel Pension Scam Watch

        British Steel and the Pension Promise

        British Steel Tread Carefully with Pension Transfers

        Note on investment risk.

        On moving from a defined benefit scheme to an defined contribution scheme (an invested pot) you’ll need to remember that the investment markets are at all time highs and to be fully invested now you will taking substantially more investment risk than  five or even ten years ago.

        I doubt your pension transfer adviser has told you that.




        Investing for income – 2018 | The Adviser Industry is wrong.

        Over the last thirty  years or so I’ve managed to confirm a  couple of things about investing and making your money work hard through investing.

        There is no doubt that there are several investment options that make money and many that don’t and investing for income is one of the things that works and will make a poor performing portfolio zing with life.

        My views have caused a little conflict with industry players and the invest for income or growth debate. My conclusion is most advisers and wealth managers get this completely wrong and the evidence is starting to become overwhelming against many advisers.

        Investing for income is like having a machine inside your bank account churning out fivers on demand and whenever you need and without having to work for them.

        Income that’s passive is the gold that most businesses look for and do their best to achieve.

        Imagine for one minute, your retirement; with a portfolio of shares and Exchange Traded funds (ETF) that have been working for YOU over the last ten or twenty years. It’s likely that you’d have seen some increases in capital value (growth) which is good news, however when comparing that with the income you’ll note how much better off you could be with this strategy.

        Growth funds you see are just that. Growth. But in order to survive, to pay bills you need income. Income is that tangible thing that flows into your bank each month or quarter. Income that doesn’t stop when the markets wobble or flatten.  In business terms ‘you can’t pay a gas bill with your balance sheet or share price, you can only do that with income.’

        Traditionally, we invested in shares because of income. Capital value increases were the icing on the cake – something that would be nice to have. Income is something you should aim for.

        Forget what your current adviser is telling you. They’re so wrong on this. Investing for income is the only way to go.

        The evidence for this is supported by a number of ‘more erudite and knowledgeable’ than me people, one of which is Geraldine Weiss.

        From Moneyweek…

        Weiss felt that a stock should meet most (or ideally all) of seven key criteria before investors should consider buying it. They are: 1. Must be yielding more than its historical average dividend yield. 2. Must have raised dividends at a rate of at least 10% a year over the past 12 years. 3. Trading for less than double the value of net assets. 4. Trading at less than 20 times earnings. 5. Earnings are at least double dividends. 6. Debt is less than 50% of total market cap. 7. Financially stable and with a long enough track record to be considered a “blue chip”.

        And from the Telegraph

        Quite simply put. If you are not investing for income you are missing a trick and if haven’t been then it’s not to late start. With Pension Freedoms – this could be way to enjoy a good cash income in retirement and enjoy something to pass on to your kids – a proper tax free legacy.

        When you’re ready to learn some more about this strategy then get in touch using the form below, you’ll be pleased you did.