What would you like to be when you grow up?

What would you like to be when you grow up?It’s a question I’m sure we’ve all thought about at various points during our lives.

We often ask children what they would like to be when they grow up.

At the recent Spring into Cranleigh event, our team asked children the question in return for some treasure (chocolate coins) for their interesting answers.

Here is what the children of Cranleigh told us they would like to be when they grow up.



-Face Painter


-Pet Sitter

-An Entertainer




-Fashion Designer

-Biologist who studies lions


-Financial Planner






-Movie Maker

-Policeman and Builder

-Mummy or an Evil Hairdresser

Our favourite answer of the day came from Callum who told us he wants to be a Marine Biologist when he grows up.

A copy of What’s it Like to be a Marine Biologist? is winging its way Callum as his prize for giving our favourite answer of the day.

What would you like to be when you grow up?

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My weekend behind the lens

My weekend behind the lensRegular visitors to this blog will be aware that I’ve got a more than passing interest in film making.

It all started a couple of years ago when I was inspired to film, direct and produce my first feature-length documentary.

Despite having a passion for photography, capturing moving images was a brand new experience for me.

I spent months reading books and watching tutorials on YouTube before conducting interviews with experts, editing the footage and turning it into a 63 minute social documentary.

Earlier this year, a friend of ours from the livery yard where we keep our horse asked me if I would be interested in a new film project, working with the international riders of the GB TREC Team.

TREC is horse riding discipline brought to the UK in the late nineties.

It’s a sport designed to test the skills of a horse and rider in planning and executing a long distance ride in unfamiliar country. The sport originated in France as a way of testing and improving the skills of trail ride leaders.

This weekend, six riders from the GB TREC team attended a training camp at Woolgars Farm Cross Country Course in the Surrey Hills.

I spent all day Saturday and most of Sunday following them around the countryside with an array of cameras, accompanied by an assistant camera operator, three professional photographers and the editor of Horse Magazine.

It was fascinating to see the trusted working relationship these athletes have with their horses and their passion for the sport, which is still fairly niche here in the UK. In fact, it was suggested by a few of them that for anyone who wanted to represent their country at the top level, TREC was probably a very good sport to consider!

On Saturday morning the team plotted a route on their maps and spent a couple of hours orienteering, before spending the afternoon tackling a range of obstacles on the course.

During our ride back to base, I was able to capture some of my favourite footage from the weekend, sitting in the back of a 4×4 with the car boot wide open as the six riders galloped up the hill behind me – probably the scariest and most exciting thing I’ve done to date this year!

On Sunday morning, some of the riders were interviewed for the magazine, before each team member accompanied a group of novice TREC riders on an orienteering course and then demonstrated each of the obstacles.

The film footage I captured over the weekend now needs to be edited to create two things; a short promotional film to help the GB TREC Team acquire more sponsorship, and a short 6-7 minute long documentary feature about this sport.

Once these films are edited, I will share the links here.

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Week in review: Friday 8th May 2015

Week in reviewWhat an incredible week for the country!

The Informed Choice team are a little bleary eyed today, after staying up late and/or getting up ridiculously early to watch the election results as they were announced.

Martin shares his initial thoughts about the election in this blog from this morning.

Our podcast this week talks about pension liberation and features an interview with campaigner Angela Brooks.

As we enter the weekend and start to see results from local elections to add to what we know about the national political picture, we hope you get the government you wanted.


Is this the end of inheritance?Is this the end of inheritance?

Shelley asks whether longer lives and higher expenses in retirement have resulted in the effective end of inheritance.

No financial regretsNo financial regrets

New research has found that the biggest financial regrets in life are getting divorced and not saving enough for the future. How can you make it through life without any financial regrets?

Some election financial thoughtsSome election financial thoughts

A slightly sleep-deprived Martin shares his early thoughts on the political and financial consequences of the election results.


Podcast 022: Pension Liberation interview with Angela BrooksEpisode 022: Pension liberation interview with Angela Brooks

In the podcast this week, Martin chats to campaigner Angela Brooks about pension liberation. We also hear from CFP professional Justin King to find out how to stay safe from pension scams.

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Some election financial thoughts

Some election financial thoughtsWhat a fascinating night.

Like many others this morning, I suspect, I’m operating on a handful of hours of sleep; late to bed and (very) early to rise, with the excitement of a confounding exit poll encouraging a 4.30am start.

The results are still rolling in as I type this, although Sky News are predicting a Conservative majority of six seats.

Here are some early financial thoughts from this slightly sleep deprived Financial Planner.

How did the pollsters get it so wrong?

We’re hearing about ‘shy Tories’ as one possible explanation to the disparity between pre-election poll results and the increasingly accurate exit poll. I don’t buy this.

In an age of Social Media, we are all sharing more intimate details about our lives and opinions. To suggest so many kept their voting intentions secret from the pollsters for the past few months doesn’t add up.

The polling organisations have seen their credibility destroyed overnight and will have some big questions to answer in the coming days and weeks.

We all expected the rise of the SNP in Scotland. To see them secure 56 seats is beyond all expectations, even I suspect SNP expectations.

British politics in the future is going to look very different; I can see a scenario where Scottish independence is tabled again very soon.

Talking about independence, a Tory majority government means an EU referendum. I’m in favour of this, although not necessarily of the UK leaving the European Union. It’s important that Britain has the opportunity to debate our membership of Europe and vote for the future.

However, the surge in popularity of UKIP (in votes, not seats) suggests the ‘no’ camp in an our EU referendum will have their work cut out for them.

Another theme which emerged last night was the Green surge.

They don’t appear to have secured the additional seat predicted in the exit poll (we had big hopes for our friend Vix Lothian on the Isle of Wight and our client Dee Searle in Tottenham) but lots of third places where they contested seats and a big rise in vote share.

Hopefully, some of the Green Party policies around sustainability and environment will become more mainstream in the future.

Here in our Guildford constituency, Anne Milton was reelected to parliament, boosting her majority at the expense of the Lib Dems.

Nationally, the Lib Dems were hammered overnight, to a much larger extent that even the most pessimistic forecasters predicted. Nearly 40 Liberal Democrat MPs lost their seats, including a number of former cabinet members.

Time will tell over the next few days whether the Lib Dems will have a role to play in a new government, although with a predicted majority of six seats, the Conservatives are unlikely to need their support.

And Labour had a terrible night too. Losing their Scottish seats, including Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy, was the consequence of a rampant SNP. The defeat of shadow chancellor Ed Balls is likely to accelerate calls for Ed Miliband to announce his resignation today.

The financial markets have reacted very positively to news of a likely Tory majority.

Pound Sterling rallied to a two-month high against the US Dollar, jumping by nearly 2% on news of the exit poll forecast.

The FTSE 100 index of leading UK company shares opened higher this morning in London, currently trading at just over 7,000 points as I type this.

Markets don’t like uncertainty; a Conservative majority and no need for coalition partner support, would create a more certain market environment for investors.

An EU referendum at some point during the next five years would however result in another bout of market uncertainty, so investors will need to consider that.

Assuming we see a new Conservative government emerge today, we will see some interesting financial developments during the next five years, based on manifesto promises.

The personal allowance for income tax will rise to £12,500, the combined inheritance tax threshold for the family home will rise to £1m, although tax relief on pension contributions for higher earners will be cut to fund this tax concession.

We expect to see pension reform plans for next April, with the creation of a second-hand annuity market, carried through to their conclusion under a Tory government.

It is also good news that Dr Ros Altmann will be made a Tory peer, and join the cabinet as minister for consumer protection, under a Conservative majority government (well done, Ros!).

I’ll write another blog once all of the seats have been announced, a new government has been confirmed and we have had longer to digest all of the news.

Do you have any financial thoughts on the election results from last night?

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Podcast 022: Pension Liberation interview with Angela Brooks

Podcast 022: Pension Liberation interview with Angela BrooksThis week in episode 22 of the Informed Choice Podcast, Martin interviews Angela Brooks of campaign group Pension Life.

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Earlier this week in the press, there were reports of victims in pension fund scams committing suicide, with dozens of marriages said to have collapsed and families facing the risk of losing their homes.

Angela Brooks represents the 700 people caught up in the Ark and Capita Oak pension liberation schemes.

In this episode of the podcast, Martin talks to Angie about how pension liberation schemes work, how the promoters of these schemes find their victims, and the potential financial and human costs of being a victim of pension liberation.

We also hear from Justin King of MFP Wealth Management to get his thoughts on staying safe from pension scams.

Finally, Martin asks whether financial advice at retirement should become compulsory.

Here are links to everything Martin talks about in episode 22 of the Informed Choice Podcast:

Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce website

Cranleigh Parish Boundary Challenge


The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday (book)

The Martian by Andy Weir (book)

Wilder Mind by Mumford & Sons (album)

The Learning Leader with Ryan Hawk (podcast)

Martin’s non-fiction books Amazon wishlist

Sons of Anarchy

Suicides of four victims in pension fund scam (article)

Angela Brooks, Pension Life

Justin King, MFP Wealth Management

Samaritans for confidential support, call 08457 909090

If you listen to this podcast, please take one minute to leave an honest review on iTunes.

Reviews from listeners are so important to help others find the podcast, and we also really want your feedback so we know which elements of the show you enjoy and what we can improve. To leave a review, simply visit www.icfp.co.uk/itunes

Martin will read out reviews at the end of each future episode, so please make sure you leave a note of your real name, so you get a mention.

If you have a personal finance or investment question you would like Martin to answer on the podcast, you can leave a voicemail for the show by following the link at icfp.co.uk/podcast. We’ll answer your question in a future episode and send you a gift to say thank you for taking part.

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No financial regrets

No financial regretsThe last thing any of us want in life is regrets, especially financially regrets.

When it comes to money and making important decisions about your personal financial planning, it is all too easy to make mistakes which can lead to financial regrets.

New research from Partnership suggests saving too little and getting divorced are the most common financial regrets.

Not saving enough (36%), not saving money into a pension (25%) and getting divorced (13%) were found to be the biggest financial regrets for 40-70 year olds in the UK, according to the research.

The research found up to two thirds (61%) of people felt that not saving enough was their biggest error – either generally (36%) or into their pension (25%).

Getting married and subsequently divorcing (13%) was seen as the third biggest financial error a person could make followed by putting money into poorly performing investments (12%) and delaying buying a house (8%).

Interestingly, the number of people who regret not saving more halves as people age – 46% (40 to 50 years old) to 23% (61 to 70 years old), the number of people who regret not making more pension provision only falls by 1% (23% to 22%).

This suggests that as people age – and retirement becomes a more urgent financial priority – they focus more on the need to put aside money into their pension rather than general savings.

More choices

With the recent introduction of new pension freedom rules, we believe there are even more opportunities for making the wrong financial decisions and ending up with regrets.

A wider range of choices and options for retirement income is a very welcome development, assuming each option is carefully considered and decisions are made based on proper analysis.

Working with an Independent Financial Planner, such as Informed Choice, is an effective way to reduce the likelihood of future financial regrets.

We all want to live a life without regrets; developing and following a comprehensive Financial Plan is a very good way to ensure no financial regrets.

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Is this the end of inheritance?

Is this the end of inheritance?If your Financial Planning is based on receiving a substantial inheritance from your parents or grandparents, I’ve got some bad news for you – we could be witnessing the end of inheritance.

New research from HSBC has found that ‘giving while living’ is on the increase, but this is often at the expense of dreams in retirement.

Their research found that traditional inheritance is dying out.

The report from HSBC, called The Future of Retirement Choices for later life, found whilst more than half (58%) of working-age people in the UK expect to leave an inheritance to their children, the reality is very different; only a third (33%) have actually received an inheritance.

A ‘living inheritance’ is instead becoming the new normal, with half of retirees surveyed providing regular financial support to their family and friends.

The report found that wealth is being typically passed down the generations, with 19% of retirees regularly giving to grown-up children, and almost one in ten (9%) doing the same for their grandchildren.

26% of working-age people said it is better to spend all your money and create your own wealth, while just 5% say that it’s better to save as much money as possible to pass onto the next generation, painting a bleak picture for a traditional inheritance.

We think these findings mean you should probably not pin your hopes of funding your retirement on the receipt of an inheritance in later life.

With people living for longer, and increasingly expensive costs of care, wealth is often depleted in later retirement leaving little to pass on to the next generation in the form of a traditional inheritance.

What all of this means is it is important to be realistic about inheritance expectations; open a dialogue with your parents when making retirement plans and do not rely on an inheritance to fund the lifestyle you want in later life.

Do speak to us if you are thinking about your life in retirement and the income you need to support your personal vision for later life.

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Week in review: Friday 1st May 2015

Week in review: Friday 1st May 2015Are you looking forward to the Bank Holiday weekend as much as we are?

If you are in Cranleigh tomorrow (Saturday), please come and say hello as the Informed Choice team will be handing out free Hazel saplings from outside Sundial House as part of the Spring into Cranleigh celebrations.

This week at Informed Choice, our podcast focuses on the upcoming General Election.

There was news about slowing economic growth in the UK, at possibly not the best time for David Cameron and the Conservatives, which we explain in this blog.

Martin went to London on Thursday to present the case for Informed Choice being named Best Retirement Adviser at the Money Marketing Financial Services Awards 2015. He tells the story here.

If there is anything you would like us to cover in future blogs or podcast episodes, please let us know.


Spring into CranleighSpring into Cranleigh

To celebrate Spring into Cranleigh on Saturday 2nd May 2015, the Informed Choice team will be giving away free Hazel saplings from outside our High Street offices at Sundial House.

UK economic growth is slowingUK economic growth is slowing

UK economic growth is slowing down, according to the latest official figures published by the Office for National Statistics.

Why do you deserve to win this award?Why do you deserve to win this award?

Martin tells the story of being interviewed by judges for Best Retirement Adviser at the Money Marketing Awards 2015.


ICP021 General Election SpecialPodcast 21 – General Election Special

This week in the podcast, Martin chats to Green Party prospective MP Dee Searle about her election campaign, hears from Fidelity fund manager Nick Peters about what the election could mean for investment markets, and gets pre-election views from his fellow Financial Planners Chris Daems and Chris Budd.


Informed Choice-UWe posted five more episodes of Informed Choice-U this week; our three-minute videos explaining personal finance and investing concepts:

ICU017 FTSE 100

ICU016 Active & Passive Funds

ICU015 Silver Inflation

ICU014 Individual Savings Accounts

ICU013 Independent & Restricted Financial Advice


Not being on social media a bigger risk for advisers

Martin was quoted this week by Jay Vaananen, blogger for Banker’s Umbrella, speaking at the 68th CFA Annual Conference in Frankfurt. This is reported in FT Adviser.

Treasury spends £37k on Pension Wise branding

Nick is quoted in this article from Money Marketing, about the government spend on creating a ‘brand identity’ for the Pension Wise guidance service.


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Podcast 21 – General Election Special

This weICP021 General Election Specialek in episode 21 of the Informed Choice Podcast, it’s a General Election 2015 special!

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With less than a week to go before Britain decides who should govern the country, Martin speaks to Nick Peters, Co-Manager of the Fidelity Multi Asset Income Fund to get his thoughts on what this election is likely to mean for investment markets.

He also interviews Dee Searle, a client of Informed Choice who you might remember from episode 17 of the podcast.

Dee is standing as parliamentary candidate for the Green Party in Tottenham. Martin spoke to Dee earlier in the week to find out how her campaign is going, what she thinks her chances are of becoming an MP next week and whether she would do it all over again.

There’s also some pre-election thoughts from Financial Planners Chris Budd from Ovation Finance in Bristol and Chris Daems from Cervello Financial Planning in London and Essex.

Here are links to everything Martin talks about in episode 21 of the Informed Choice Podcast:

London Marathon ever presents

Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce

@MartinBamford on Twitter

Money Marketing Financial Services Awards

The Boy That Never Was by Karen Perry (book)

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday (book)

Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday (book)

The Martian by Andy Weir (book)

The Showrunner Podcast (podcast)

Podcast Junkies (podcast)

If you enjoy listening to the Informed Choice Podcast, please take a minute to leave a review on iTunes here. When you write your review, leave a note of your full name and website address, and Martin will read these out in a future episode of the podcast.

If there is anything you would like to see featured in a future episode of the Informed Choice Podcast, please leave a comment below, email Martin at martin@icfp.co.uk or contact him on Twitter @martinbamford.

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Why do you deserve to win this award?

Why do you deserve to win this award?It’s the question we have come to expect when shortlisted for prestigious awards.

This morning I hopped on a train to central London to be interviewed for the Money Marketing Financial Services Awards 2015.

Informed Choice has been shortlisted for Best Retirement Adviser along with five other firms.

According to the entry criteria, firms entering this award should have been in existence for at least 12 months and be able to demonstrate excellence in the decumulation-phase advice proposition they offer their clients in retirement.

We submitted our entry ahead of the deadline earlier this year and were pleased to receive the news a few weeks ago that we had made it through to the shortlist of six advisers.

The final step in the entry process was a judging panel at the offices of Money Marketing in London today; 20 minutes to field quick-fire questions from a room full of experts.

Daunting doesn’t quite describe it

After the opening question asking why Informed Choice deserves to win Best Retirement Adviser (I think I made a convincing case!), it was a whole series of questions about our approach to providing retirement advice, opinions on recent pension freedom changes and finding out how we would deal with different scenarios.

The 20 minutes flew by in what felt like a minute or two, and I left the offices feeling pleased with my answers and only a little shell-shocked by the experience.

Heading back to Waterloo to catch a train home, I got off the tube a stop early so I could walk across the river and consider how I might have answered some of the questions differently. I snapped the photo which accompanies this post whilst reflecting.

We now have to wait until the awards dinner which takes place in London on 18th June to find out if we have been successful.

Will Informed Choice be named Best Retirement Adviser at the Money Marketing Awards 2015? We’ll let you know as soon as we have any news!

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