Wealth Check: Three tough decisions for a brighter future

Harriet Warburton, 32, bought her own home in Oxford five years ago. She has a PhD in animal welfare and works for a government research funding agency.

Her financial concerns are, first, that her five-year discount mortgage deal with Halifax expires this month. Should she remortgage and, to what deal? She is attracted by offset mortgages.

Second, Harriet is about to get a pay rise. She'd like to put the extra money (£100 a month) into savings - but what vehicle?

Finally, should Harriet move the pension savings she built up with a previous employer into her current employer's scheme?

We asked three independent advisers for suggestions: Anna Bowes, of Chase de Vere, David Hollingworth, of London & Country Mortgages, and Philippa Gee, of Torquil Clark.


Harriet needs to act quickly, says David Hollingworth. From March she will pay Halifax's standard variable rate of 6.5 per cent, a third above the cheapest deals.

Harriet faces two key decisions. The first is whether to remortgage to another discounted variable rate, or go for fixed. The debate is finely balanced - fixing will give certainty, but a discount could prove marginally cheaper if base rates fall.

The second decision is whether to stick with Halifax. Rivals may be cheaper but there will be more costs in switching.

Some lenders offer fee-free mortgages - with a slightly higher interest rate. She must look at charges and interest over the period of the deal. On smaller mortgages, the fee-free option can be good value.

Finally, Hollingworth says offset mortgages, where borrowers hold savings in the same account as the loan to cut the debt and the interest, work well for some. But offset rates tend to be higher, and as Harriet has a small amount of savings, she won't get much benefit.


Philippa Gee would like Harriet to move her £2,500 savings away from Woolwich, because of its low interest rates. A cash individual savings account (ISA) would be tax-free. Halifax Direct pays 5 per cent.

Gee suggests Northern Rock's Tracker Online for Harriet's pay-rise cash. It pays 5.01 per cent, falling to 4.3 per cent after six months, when Harriet might want to switch. Or, Newcastle Building Society's Online account pays 4.9 per cent a year.

Anna Bowes suggests using the Woolwich cash for emergencies, though she also recommends a cash ISA - or the stock market for part of her savings.

In addition, she suggests Jupiter Merlin Growth, New Star's Tactical, or an ethical fund.


Bowes thinks Harriet should leave her Universities Scheme pension savings where they are. The scheme is good value and the amount Harriet has is relatively small - unlikely to be worth transferring.

Harriet says she would like to stop work between the ages of 50 and 55 - Bowes thinks this is unrealistic, unless she is able to commit more savings to her pension plans.


All the advisers are concerned that Harriet has not insured herself properly. Bowes thinks she can save money on her existing life insurance plan, held with her mortgage provider. Gee says Harriet must check whether her employer offers decent benefits in the event of her being unable to work due to ill-health. If not, good income protection or critical illness insurance could be very important.

Case notes

Personal: Harriet is a manager at a government research funding agency.

Income: £24,000 a year.

Property: Owns her own home in Oxford. Discounted-rate deal with Halifax due to end this month.

Pension: Member of scheme at work, deferred member of University Superannuation Scheme.

Savings: £2,500 with Woolwich earning 3.06 per cent. £100 premium bonds.

Monthly expenditure: Disposable income of around £1,500 all spent on bills and general living expenses.

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

Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
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

    Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

    Market Risk & Control Manager

    Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

    SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

    £320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

    Head of Audit

    To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam