Sometimes it is a privilege to be a journalist specialising in the complicated world of personal finance. Not always, especially when threatening legal letters come winging your way in response to something you’ve written. But sometimes.
I say this because occasionally you (as a journalist) get to meet – or speak to – quite extraordinary people. Individuals whom maybe you do not really deserve to meet but have the opportunity to do so because you are a member of the Fifth Estate.
Some are super stars who blow your mind away – sporting icons such as Dame Kelly Holmes who I had the pleasure of talking to at a splendid event recently hosted by Just Retirement to mark their 10th anniversary (a picture of the two of us adorns my wall at work and will do so until I vacate it). What an amazing person – and nice with it.
Others are legendary practitioners such as Alan Steel of Alan Steel Asset Management who remains as fervent and excited about quality financial advice today as he did when he set up his eponymous business 40 years ago. He is a Scottish whirlwind.
Spend 20 minutes in his company and you will understand what I am saying. If only more financial advisers shared his enthusiasm for life and his profession.
His energy should be bottled and sold to practitioners thinking of giving up the ghost after the latest 10 per cent fee hike imposed by the FCA.
And then, most striking of all, there are people out there who make you (that is, me) realise how fragile – but beautiful – life is, and that in a country where financial services is generally denigrated, some financial products are still worth their weight in gold.
If only we sung about these products as enthusiastically as we sing “All things bright and beautiful” on a Sunday morning while the vicar prepares to deliver his sermon and the woodpecker hammers away in the wood outside (life is good where I live).
So, step forward James Lindon-Travers, a mortgage broker who until 10 days ago I had never had the privilege of speaking to. Wow, did he leave an indelible mark on me.
He has diced with death, dealt with death (tragically so) but come out the other end – his finances protected by insurance that most advisers do not bother to sell and consumers are not interested in purchasing.
The insurance in question is financial protection – cover that last week the mighty Aviva said families had less of than pet insurance.
While one in five households have pet insurance, only 8 per cent possess income protection cover and 11 per cent critical illness insurance.
Alarming statistics do you not think? Especially given the fact that less than half of British households possess a pet while we have all beating hearts. Eighty per cent of households are barking mad.