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."
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
Offering advice this week are Aj Somal, of Uniec Financial Solutions, Christopher Wicks, of Bridgewater Financial Services, and Darius McDermott, of Chelsea Financial Services...
"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."
- 1 Stoke City investigate 'religious abuse' after 'pig's head is found in Kenwyne Jones' locker'
- 2 Heading for America? Prepare for the longest US immigration queues ever
- 3 Amir Khan interview: 'One second could end my boxing career'
- 4 Groundhog day looms for Arsène Wenger as Arsenal battle for a place in the Champions League on final day
- 5 Join Ryanair! See the world! But we'll only pay you for nine months a year
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
iJobs Money & Business
£550 - £600 per day: Orgtel: Fidessa Analyst / PM - Banking - London - Up to £...
£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: Sourcing Manager - Banking - London - Up to £500p...
To be discussed at interview.: Queen Elizabeth's School: An experienced and ef...
£294.05 - £330.92 per day + 150 per day travel and accommodation: Orgtel: A le...
Day In a Page
A five-bedroom bungalow in Hoveton with riverside garden and mooring dock, £550,000
A refurbished one-bedroom flat with south-facing reception and high ceilings. £579,950
A four-bedroom Grade II-listed house in Nazeing with large gardens. £550,000
A modern four-bedroom house in a converted stable within walking distance to Peckham Rye. £695,000
Three-bedroom house in a quiet residential area within close distance to Battersea Park. £450,000
A three-bedroom cottage within commuting distance of London, Norwich and Cambridge. £250,000
A two-bedroom cottage with a sun room and gardens in South Chard. £350,000.
A three-bedroom semi-detached house with original features including fireplaces and wooden flooring. £399,950
A modern two-bedroom flat split across two floors and close to several public transport links. £595,000
A one-bedroom flat with an open-plan reception/kitchen and private balcony. £315,000.
A bright two-bedroom garden flat between South Acton and Chiswick Park. £499,950.
A listed four-bedroom farmhouse with stables, set in four acres. £500,000.
A three-storey family home with four bedrooms and an extended kitchen/diner. £995,000.
A three-bedroom Hamstone cottage in the rolling Somerset countryside. £430,000.
A luxury one-bedroom apartment on the first floor of a converted Victorian house. £425,000.
Three-bedroom semi-detached house with private parking and a rear garden. £249,995.