60s & 70s

I just haven’t had to worry from the minute I walked out of my first meeting with Tom. I thought he was going to do what’s right for me and that’s proven true.

This case study was featured in the VouchedFor Top Rated guide, distributed by The Times in March 2023.

In June last year, Liz was already retired, but had a defined benefit or final salary pension that would soon be accessible. After frustrating discussions with one specialist, she teamed up with Tom Hatley, a financial planner at Christopher Little & Co in Otley, Yorkshire, to work out a plan.

Liz says the meeting with the initial expert left her concerned, as he expected her to make a decision after just a five-minute conversation. Understandably, she wanted more help making sure that her pension would build a secure future for her and her partner. However, working with Tom eased those fears.

“I asked locally for recommendations and Tom’s name came up, so I made an appointment,” Liz explains. “First, he had a chat about what I wanted in the long run. It wasn’t just about me, but also my partner. He got an understanding, talked through the options, went away and got numbers and then we took it from there.”

Tom advised Liz to transfer out of her defined benefit scheme and purchase a joint life annuity. Annuity rates had recently shot up, which meant Liz could secure a much higher starting income than the defined benefit scheme was offering – enough to ensure financial security for the rest of their lives.

Liz says that she’d not considered an annuity previously, having read that they were poor value for money. However, Tom’s expertise gave her new options to meet her goals. The higher amount comfortably covers the household bills, and the tax-free lump sum is also sufficient to pay off Liz’s mortgage balance when it is due.

There was also money left over to make home adaptations for care needs and plan a trip to see England’s Test cricket team tour the West Indies.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic,” Liz says. “I just haven’t had to worry from the minute I walked out of my first meeting with Tom. I thought he was going to do what’s right for me and that’s proven true. It had been hanging over me for five years… and to have that all sorted by somebody completely confident was a huge relief.”

Tom says: “Retirement planning can be a daunting prospect. Look for help from a suitably qualified professional. Take time to gather all your paperwork together and meet with at least two advisers to discuss your circumstances, needs and concerns. Advisers can work and charge in different ways so find the best fit for you.”

Liz adds that trust is the most important thing when choosing an adviser. She says: “I have conversations with Tom, and it’s obvious that he’s listened, and he picks out facts that I’ve told him months ago. You’re not just giving your financial details, it is your home situation, what you want in the future, what your dreams are.”

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