Page last updated at 13:54 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

What are the advisers advising?

By Ian Pollock
Personal finance reporter, BBC News, Trafford Centre, Manchester

Hundreds of people are seeking advice, guidance or just some reassuring words from the team of financial experts on hand at the BBC's Money Matters Roadshow in Manchester.

So what sort of questions have they been asking and what kind of advice has been doled out?

RAY BOULGER, JOHN CHARCOL MORTGAGE BROKERS
Ray Boulger

I'm seeing quite a lot of people coming to the end of their fixed rate mortgage deal or tracker, and reverting to their lender's standard variable rate and they're wondering what to do.

In many cases the answer is just to stay on the SVR, particularly if they are with lenders like the Cheltenham & Gloucester or Nationwide who have low SVRs.

A first time buyer and his father want to buy a property and have found a new build flat, and the father is in a position to help by giving him some money as a deposit. The key question is how much should he give him, should he act as a guarantor, or buy the property jointly?

JULIE LORD, FINANCIAL PLANNER, BLUEFIN WEALTH MANAGEMENT

Julie Lord
People are worried about their savings, in particular their cash savings.

They know they can't get a decent rate on interest but what they don't seem to appreciate it that when interest rates are as low as they are, and inflation is as high as it is, that the value of their money is actually falling.

We tell them that they need to think about moving their money into real assets, like stocks and shares, though that's a difficult thing for them to take on board when they have seen things crashing around their ears.

The people I have spoken to are the ones who are saying 'Should I be cashing in, holding on, or buying more'. Believe it or not there is an appetite among one or two people for buying shares while they are cheap.

CLARE FRANCIS, MONEYSUPERMARKET.COM

Best ways to save your money

We compare financial products such as insurance and utilities as well as savings accounts and it's been all savers today.

With interest rates so low, savers have just seen their returns on their money plummet. They've been diligently saving all their lives and they just want to know where they can put their money to make the most from it.

They can't buck the market but we have Bank of England base rate at 1% and the best savings rates are paying in excess of 3% so it's a matter of seeking out the best deals - using your cash Isa allowance for the tax free returns, transferring money from Isas no longer earning a decent rate, and looking at money you could afford to lock away with a fixed rate bond whose rates are slightly higher.

There are a lot of different products out there and people are baffled by the complexity of them. A lot of people have got a lot of money they have saved over the years. So while 50,000 sounds like a lot, plenty of people I have spoken to today have considerably more than that in savings.

MARTIN EDWARDS, EMPLOYMENT LAW EXPERT, MACE & JONES

Employee rights in job downturn

The number of organisations that have struggled to handle the redundancies fairly has resulted in a large number of claims for unfair dismissal, in particular unfair selection for redundancy or failure to consult about redundancy plans.

It tends to be the most common mistake employers make, particularly if they are putting off a decision to make somebody redundant.

Sometimes it can be with the best of intentions, for instance leaving it till after Christmas, and then panicking.

I've had some very sad stories, about individuals who were given very little notice and just told to leave.

If someone is entitled to claim unfair dismissal - if they have been employed for over a year - it's relatively easy to get the redundancy payment because very few employers dispute this.

But compensation for unfair dismissal can be substantial on top of redundancy payments, and can cover lost earnings for quite a long period, maybe 18 months, if you can persuade an employment tribunal the process adopted by the employer was unfair.

In small and medium sized employers there has often been a failure to consult adequately. Or look at alternatives like short term working or pay cuts.

CAROL COSHAM, TRAFFORD UNITED CREDIT UNION
Carol Cosham

Sadly few people have been interested in what our credit union can offer them.

They've been mainly here for investment advice. But I have spoken to some people about obtaining credit. We can help people on low incomes get affordable credit, and keep them out of the hands of loan sharks.

A lot of people would benefit from us, coming out of work and getting into mortgage problems. Generally we like people to save with us but if they have an emergency we can often be helpful.



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