Financial experts are offering their services for free to help people worried about their savings during the coronavirus pandemic.
Families of all kinds are suddenly finding themselves in need of a helping hand. Middle earners put on furlough are thousands of pounds out of pocket each month and successful entrepreneurs are having to rely on benefits of less than £100 a week.
Billy Burrows, a financial adviser, started offering free discussion sessions to people in need of guidance – no matter how big or small their pension pot. More than 50 other independent financial advisers (IFAs) have decided to do the same and together they have created a website for the scheme.
Anybody over the age of 50 can send in a question via email or book a free telephone call with a regulated financial planner. The conversation is not regulated financial advice but a chance to discuss concerns and the next steps to be taken.
“There are absolutely no strings attached: sometimes the recommendation will be to do nothing, other times it will be to speak to your pension provider. In some cases the adviser may suggest seeking financial advice – either from them or someone else,” Mr Burrows said. In that case, each adviser can choose whether to continue offering their time pro-bono or whether to charge a fee.
FAQs about your finances during coronavirus
“If they do ask for payment, we’ve told them they must only charge the average or less,” Mr Burrows said. The average cost of financial advice is £150 an hour, according to the Government’s Money Advice Service. He is offering free follow-up help to those he considers particularly in need.
What other help is available?
Open Money, a savings and investments app, offers customers free discussions with its qualified financial advisers. Since lockdown began in Britain the number of people booking these appointments has almost tripled.
Other wealth managers, including Nutmeg, AJ Bell and Hargreaves Lansdown, are doing live Q&A sessions and webinars with their investment experts, which are open to anyone.
You can also get free, impartial support from charities and organisations including Citizens Advice, National Debtline, StepChange and the Government’s Money Advice Service.
Telegraph Money too has a whole range of free help and tips on offer – from grants for self-employed people struggling financially during coronavirus to how to claim a payment holiday on your bills without hurting your credit score.
Free financial resources you can access
‘I’m left with £53 a month’
Darren Haywood, from Southport, is one of the people to benefit from Mr Burrow’s idea. Four years ago he had his own home and a thriving electrical engineering business. “I had lots of work coming in: my life was set,” Mr Haywood said.
He has since been diagnosed with blood cancer, liver problems and a cyst in his brain. Aged 53, he has been told he has around four years to live.
“I lost my home and my business. Now I’m having to live off Universal Credit and disability allowance,” Mr Haywood said. After his bills are paid he is left with £53 at the end of the month.
However, Mr Haywood recently discovered he had a pension pot worth £50,000 that he had forgotten about, as the cyst in his brain causes confusion and memory loss. “It sounds like a small amount but it would change my life,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if I could access it, though.”
After a number of unsuccessful attempts to secure a financial adviser, Mr Haywood was put in touch with Mr Burrows who has been helping him for free ever since.
These forms of support are not to be considered regulated financial advice.
You can find Mr Burrow’s website here.