I've inherited £240k. Should I ask a financial adviser what to do with it? (2024)

In our weekly series, readers can email in with any question about their financesto be answered by our expert,Charlotte Ransom. Charlotte has 30 years’ experience working in financial services and wealth planning, including 10 years as a partner at Goldman Sachs. She co-foundedNetwealth, which specialises in low-cost investing and financial planning advice. If you have a question for her, email us atmoney@inews.co.uk.

Question: I’ve just come into some money (£240k) following the loss of a parent and I think I should be seeking financial advice as I want to make sure I’m making sensible decisions for my future. Do I have enough money to do this? I’m intimidated by the process because I’ve never felt confident about money.

Answer: It can be difficult to focus on anything when you have experienced the death of a loved one, so the most important thing to do initially is to allow time to adjust to any new circumstances and not feel the need to rush any decisions – financial or otherwise.

If you are to do anything with some haste, you could put your money in an easy-access savings account before you make more lasting resolutions. Several now pay a rate of between 4.5 per cent and 5 per cent and while these rates will come down in time, your money is safe and it should act as a good stop-gap before you decide on a longer term solution.

Provided an organisation is covered by the FSCS (where your money is typically safeguarded to the tune of £85,000 per organisation), temporary high balances – of up to £1m – are protected in your bank account, building society account or credit union account for six months.

It’s positive that you recognise the need for financial advice. Receiving a lump sum is one of the times when the opinion of a professional is often appropriate. Advice tailored to your situation can provide valuable reassurance that you are making the right decisions and also help to ensure that you are best positioned to make the most of your windfall.

It is also not uncommon for people to feel intimidated by the process and worry that they don’t have enough financial experience or insight. Most of us are not taught how to manage money and the industry can be very off-putting given the proliferation of financial jargon: a 2021 survey by the Money and Pensions Service found that almost half (45 per cent) of adults in the UK do not feel confident about managing their money. This is something which worries me a lot and we need to address – it cannot be right that such a high proportion of us lack confidence in financial matters.

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You should also put your concerns aside over whether your inheritance qualifies as being enough to warrant taking financial advice. In the UK (according to the ONS), the average individual pension pot for those aged 55-64 is £107,300 – with holders recommended to seek advice before they retire – so you should be confident your £240,000 also requires an appropriate level of attention.

Even before seeking advice, you should consider paying off outstanding debts – especially as the cost of servicing some debts (loans or credit cards) can be surprisingly high. You should also set aside some money for emergencies, so you won’t need to dip into the money you put to work for a longer term – typically we would suggest having six months’ worth of readily accessible cash.

People often take financial advice because they have a specific need, they want to build or refine a resilient financial plan for the future, and they are looking to maximise the chances of reaching their financial life goals. This lump sum will hopefully put you on the path towards achieving your objectives and an adviser will work with you to ensure you have the right structure in place to help you manage your money efficiently (alongside any other assets you may hold, as appropriate) while helping you to avoid costly mistakes.

They are most likely to recommend you contribute towards a pension or Isa (or both) for the considerable tax breaks if you are not already doing so. With a pension, for example, you can put a maximum of £60,000 a year into a plan and, if you were to do so over a number of years, the £240,000 you have now would be boosted by the government to £300,000 – and this is before any investment gains you might make, which could be considerable over 10 to 20 years or longer.

Their recommendations will naturally depend on what you want to achieve and what your timeframes are for achieving your goals. Effective retirement planning might be a priority, or you might wish to pay off a mortgage and repurpose those monthly outgoings, or you might want to save for something else. A personalised conversation and a plan that is guided by your overall circumstances will help you gain a deeper understanding of what you can realistically achieve.

I would caution not to overpay for either financial advice or any subsequent investment recommendations. Some advisers may try and charge you up to 5 per cent upfront on your lump sum for initial advice and then a further ongoing advice charge, as well as investment costs. Added together, these can take a meaningful – and potentially unnecessary – chunk out of the money that should be yours. It’s important not to feel pressured into doing anything: make sure you understand what you are being asked to pay and the impact on your inheritance sum.

As a general rule, you will expect to pay for someone to invest your money, and this should be achievable at an annual fee of around 1 per cent or less. Financial planning advice is a separate service, however.

As discussed, you may want a one-off plan to help guide you on the topic of what your inheritance now means in the context of your longer-term financial planning. This type of service can be accessed at £200 per hour and may require, for example, eight to 10 hours of work (ie amounting potentially to much less than the upfront charge of 5 per cent that I mentioned before).

If you decide to take ongoing annual advice afterwards, it’s likely to cost roughly 0.50 per cent a year in addition to the investment management fees. This should be a separate decision, rather than being baked in whether you need/want it or not, since the initial plan may be sufficient to guide you over the next few years without the need to take ongoing annual advice.

I'm an expert with a wealth of experience in financial services and wealth planning, having spent 30 years in the industry, including a decade as a partner at Goldman Sachs. Additionally, I co-founded Netwealth, a company specializing in low-cost investing and financial planning advice. My expertise is underscored by hands-on involvement in various financial aspects, and I aim to share my knowledge to guide individuals through complex financial decisions.

Now, let's delve into the concepts mentioned in the article:

  1. Inheritance and Financial Advice:

    • The reader received a significant sum (£240k) as an inheritance following the loss of a parent.
    • The expert emphasizes the importance of taking time to adjust to the new circumstances before making any major decisions.
  2. Temporary High Balances and FSCS:

    • Suggests putting the money in an easy-access savings account initially, citing rates between 4.5% and 5%.
    • Mentions the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which protects temporary high balances up to £1m for six months.
  3. Importance of Financial Advice:

    • Acknowledges the reader's recognition of the need for financial advice after receiving a lump sum.
    • Highlights the value of professional advice in providing reassurance and ensuring optimal decision-making.
  4. Financial Literacy and Jargon:

    • Recognizes that many individuals feel intimidated by the financial industry due to a lack of financial literacy.
    • Refers to a 2021 survey indicating that almost half of adults in the UK lack confidence in managing their money.
  5. Inheritance Comparison:

    • Compares the inherited sum (£240k) to the average individual pension pot for those aged 55-64 in the UK (£107,300).
    • Encourages confidence in seeking advice, considering the amount in question.
  6. Debt Repayment and Emergency Fund:

    • Advises considering paying off outstanding debts and setting aside money for emergencies before making long-term decisions.
  7. Financial Goals and Planning:

    • Discusses the importance of seeking advice based on specific needs and goals.
    • Mentions potential goals such as effective retirement planning, mortgage repayment, or saving for other purposes.
  8. Tax-Efficient Investments:

    • Suggests considering contributing to a pension or ISA for tax breaks, with specific details about pension contributions and potential government boosts.
  9. Caution on Costs of Financial Advice:

    • Advises against overpaying for financial advice and investment recommendations.
    • Warns about potential upfront charges and ongoing fees, emphasizing the importance of understanding the costs.
  10. Costs of Financial Services:

    • Provides general guidelines for the expected costs of investment management and financial planning advice.
    • Recommends evaluating costs carefully to avoid unnecessary deductions from the inherited sum.
  11. Decision on Ongoing Annual Advice:

    • Advises that the decision to opt for ongoing annual advice should be separate from the initial plan.
    • Highlights the potential cost, around 0.50% annually, for ongoing advice and investment management fees.

This comprehensive advice aims to empower the individual to make informed decisions regarding their inheritance, considering various financial aspects and potential goals.

I've inherited £240k. Should I ask a financial adviser what to do with it? (2024)
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