Wealth Check: 'I have no credit history in this country'

Alexandra Marr, 30, has just returned to the UK after working abroad for seven years as a marketing and public relations consultant. "I've been lucky enough to hit the ground running and have found a lot of work due to my extensive experience in the US and Canada," she says. "But I have no credit history in Britain, so it has been difficult to think of long-term financial goals. My excellent credit scoring in the US and from seven years ago in the UK counts for nothing. I've just had to pay four months' rent up-front and I am having problems applying for all sorts of accounts. I have about $50,000 in savings but it is earning just 0.02 per cent, so I am desperate to at least put some of these savings to work."

Case notes

Annual income: £30,000 estimated
Rent and bills: £650 a month
Car expenses: £200 a month
Living expenses: £400 a month
Holidays: £2,000 a year
Savings: $50,000 in a US account plus £4,500 in an online account
Pension: None

Offering advice this week are Aj Somal, of Uniec Financial Solutions, Christopher Wicks, of Bridgewater Financial Services, and Darius McDermott, of Chelsea Financial Services...

Getting credit

"The most pressing thing is to get Alexandra in a position where she can get credit," says Wicks. "But two issues make this difficult. First is her absence from the UK and second is her new start-up, self-employed status." He suggests finding out if her US bank has a branch in the UK as they may grant a sterling account on the basis of her US credit history."

Failing that, Alexandra should open a British deposit account. "Once you have held the account for a while, say a year, apply for a conventional current account," says Wicks. "By that stage, you should have a record of paying rent and utilities on time and should be capable of obtaining credit."


Alexandra hopes to raise a deposit for buying a home. The advisers agree she should transfer the money held in a dollar account to a British account. "She should think about preservation of her savings, not accumulation," says McDermott. "She should look for the best instant-access cash Isa to park a proportion of her savings in, to provide for projects such as buying a car. Currently, Santander is offering the most competitive cash Isa with a rate of 3.5 per cent."

"The £4,500 in an online savings account could be used as an emergency fund, if it is readily accessible," adds Somal. "But Alexandra should check the rate she is earning and move the money if it's poor."


"I saw a bank adviser and he suggested I put as much into a pension as possible. But I'm weary of the state of the world at the moment and worried about tying myself down for 25 years," says Alexandra.

McDermott says: "Such fears should not preclude pension investing. No other investment wrapper offers similar tax benefits; your investment is locked away until retirement."

But Alexandra should wait until she has a clearer idea about her income, says Somal. "She should consider starting a regular contribution into a personal pension plan, but as she has only recently set up her business, it is worth reviewing this area when she has been trading for a year, and will have a better idea about her earning levels and the amount of disposable income she can set aside."


"The only other issue is how Alexandra would support herself if she was unable to work due to ill-health or injury," says Wicks. "She could take out an insurance which provides a replacement tax-free income payable in the event she is unable to work for say six months or more, until she either gets better or reaches retirement age."

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

    $200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

    Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

    $125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

    Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

    Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

    Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

    Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas