Wealth Check: 'I want to get my finances in order – and buy a car'

Australian-born James Hennesey moved to the town of Hope in Flintshire, North Wales, 18 months ago, with his wife, Monica York, and their daughter Karen.

Monica works part-time as a teacher at the local secondary school, as well as working as an artist and children's book illustrator.

James was only able to find casual work during his first 11 months in Hope, but for the past six months has been in a permanent position as a PR manager.

James and Monica's combined income is £40,000, and now that Tim has full-time work, he is keen to start focusing on getting the family finances in order.

At present, the couple pay £750 a month to rent a three-bedroom home on a 300-year-old farm. They've lived here for 15 months.

Even though James' only debt is £2,000 owed on a credit card – which is interest-free until June 2008 – James is concerned about his family's long-term financial future.

He has no pension plan or life insurance, and has so far refused to convert any of his savings in Australian dollars into sterling because of what he describes as "the unfavourable exchange rates"; he currently has A$15,000 (about £6,800) squirreled away, but no other savings or investments.

Tim wants to secure his family's finances so that they can continue to have enough disposable income for their leisure time and to buy a good second-hand car.

"I'd like to be in a position where we don't have to struggle and can enjoy a good quality of life – where we can go to sporting events and restaurants and so on."

James, a keen cricketer, would also like to keep providing free coaching for the local girls' cricket team, which he took the lead in setting up.

We asked three financial advisers for their suggestion: Chris Wicks of the Alexander Beard Group Plc, Ian Hudson of Hudson Green & Associates, and Anna Sofat of AJS Wealth Management.

Case notes: James Hennesey, 40, PR manager, Flintshire

Income: £40,000 annually (joint with wife)
Pension: None
Property: Pays £750 per month in rent
Savings: A$15,000 with ING Direct Australia (about £6,800)
Debts: £2,000 debt on a credit card


All our advisers agree that it may be time for James to think about changing his dollars into sterling now that he's settled over here permanently.

"When James first arrived, the exchange rate equated to approximately A$2.50 against £1, whereas the rate is now A$2.20," says Hudson. "This means that, rather than his dollars being worth £6,000, they are now worth approximately £6,800." Sofat adds that the cash could then be used as an emergency fund. "It could also provide the deposit for the car James wants to buy," she says.

Wicks suggests building up "more accessible savings" by investing up to £7,000 into an ISA.

"If you leave the country, this can be cashed in, free of tax, and reinvested in Australia," he says.

Hudson also recommends that James use an ISA as a way of building a reserve of savings in addition to his dollars – or perhaps in a combination of accounts, to allow for different plans.

"A mini cash ISA should allow you to save additional funds to supplement the purchase and running costs of your car," he says. " You could then use a stocks and shares ISA to fund a house purchase, assuming it is some years away."


Sofat advises James to take full of advantage of any pension benefit that he accrued in Australia.

"As an Australian, he will be used to paying into a compulsory superannuation scheme," she says. "This is likely to be a money purchase agreement, so he should ensure that this is invested wisely and reviewed regularly."

She also urges him to check whether he has access to a pension scheme with his employer.

If not, she recommends that he look into setting up a personal pension, and says that a stakeholder-friendly pension would be a competitive option.

Wicks adds that, in the UK, the most effective method of providing for retirement is to make pensions contributions for which you get tax relief.

"If you return to Australia, you can transfer the fund built up to a local arrangement," he says.

Hudson warns that, as James currently has no pension provision, it may prove significantly challenging for him to build up a big enough pot to survive his autumn years in comfort.

"If he wants to maintain his standard of income and living into retirement, James would now need to invest £500 gross per month into a pension for the next 25 years," he says. "The earlier the couple start saving, the better. If they wait another year before making this decision, they will find that every year of delay, at their age, reduces their potential income by 5 per cent."

Monica's pension provision is no less important, adds Sofat.

"Being a teacher, Monica should be a member of the teachers' pension scheme. She may, however, want to review her existing provision and see if she can buy added years. There are new restrictions, but I would recommend making enquiries."


Our advisers are concerned about James' lack of income protection in case of long-term illness.

"He should check to see if he has any sickness benefit from work and then fill any gap in provision," advises Sofat.

"Income protection for £19,000 benefit annually would cost about £33 per month," she says, adding that a protection policy "needn't break the bank". "I estimate a third of their take-home pay goes to pay the rent," she says. "Assuming another £1,000 per month for other fixed costs, he has 28 per cent of his monthly pay for discretionary spend. On this basis, the policy mentioned above should be affordable."

Hudson also recommends life insurance for both James and Monica:

"For around £20 a month, James could have a policy that will provide an income of approximately £17,500 to his family in the event of his death. The policy would only last for 20 years. However, it would provide a valuable safety net."

For a free financial check-up, write to Wealth Check, 'The Independent', 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or e-mail cash@independent.co.uk . Names have been changed.

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

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
Life and Style
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

    Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

    £50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

    SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

    £450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

    Project Manager - Pensions

    £32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

    KYC Analyst, Birmingham - £200-£250 p/d

    £200 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: KYC Analyst, Key Banking Client, Bi...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone