First time buyers Boost your mortgage chances

You’ve decided to take the plunge and get onto the property ladder, having swapped fun and frivolity for fastidious frugalness to save the deposit. But what can you do to boost your chances of getting your first mortgage?

Check and correct

The three main credit reference agencies, Equifax, Experian and Callcredit, will all use data to score you differently. Lenders will use one or more of these agencies to decide whether to offer you credit.

The general rule is, the higher your credit score the better, so if after checking you feel your score is low you can do things to improve it. For instance, if there are errors on your file you can write to the credit reference agency and ask them to add a notice of correction to your file. You should also check you're not linked financially to anyone, eg. an ex-partner or old flatmate. Their credit history could affect yours so make sure you've organised a 'disassociation' with the credit agency.

Address your address

Make sure all your bank accounts, any credit cards and loans are registered against your correct current address. Contact any financial institutions that hold incorrect information to update the details and take the opportunity to ask them to close any old and unused accounts.

You should also check you're on the electoral roll as lenders will use this as part of their identity checks on you. You can register for free at

Manage your money

As the proverb goes “look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves” and this is particularly true when thinking about applying for a mortgage. Lenders will look at your credit record and spending habits, so in the months leading up to your application make sure you pay all bills on time - set up a direct debit if this makes it easier to manage. Cut back on spending from any current accounts and on any credit cards. Try and stay out of your overdraft and don’t apply for any new credit in the run up to your mortgage application.

Have your paperwork ready

Your lender will ask for a range of documents, including three months' bank statements and payslips, ID documents, proof of address, proof of bonuses etc. Get these up together in advance to avoid unnecessary delays in the application process.

Arrange an Agreement in Principle (AIP)

AIPs are offered by many lenders as a conditional offer of acceptance. If you have this in place in advance of your purchase it will give confidence to the seller and their estate agent that the sale will complete.

Applying for a mortgage and the admin that comes with it may seem like a stressful process but these few tips can hekp make the process easier.

To discuss your mortgage needs, get in touch. 


The latest Omnis 2019 Market Update can be downloaded here

Omnis 2019 Outlook

The average homeowner moving from a specific mortgage deal onto their mortgage provider’s Standard Variable Rate (SVR) could save more than £2,500 a year in interest payments simply by remortgaging.

SVR is the type of mortgage you’re most likely to revert to at the end of an introductory, fixed rate, discount or tracker deal. The rate you pay on SVR is set by your mortgage lender and doesn’t track the Bank of England Base Rate, which means you might not benefit from interest rate cuts and you could be exposed to interest rate rises. SVRs don’t come with the security of a fixed rate deal and your mortgage lender could choose to increase your rate at any time.

SVRs can also be quite expensive; on average those on SVRs pay an extra £211 a month compared to homeowners on a mortgage deal. This rises to as much as £727 a month in London, where house prices are significantly higher than the average.

On the plus side, SVRs can represent good value when interest rates are low and there are no exit fees. Even so, with a potentially sizeable saving to be made by remortgaging, it’s a wonder that around two million borrowers seem happy to stick with their SVR. Why?

Time to remortgage?

It’s important to regularly review your mortgage, as it can often make sense to transfer to a new deal - or even a different lender. Your decision to transfer will of course depend on your individual circumstances and the current rate you are paying. If your lender plans to increase its SVR, moving onto a new mortgage deal could save you money.
To discuss your remortgaging options, please get in touch.





A report by Legal and General* has found that, on average UK employees could be on the breadline in just 32 days.

Whilst no-one wants to think, what would you do if the worst was the happen but if you were to fall critically ill or lose your job, could you still afford your lifestyle?

Research undertaken by Legal and General showed that if employees lost their main source of income due to long-term sickness or critical illness they’d be on the breadline in a month. 26% stated their current savings would last them a week or less. 

As consumers we would happily pay for insurance to cover valuables, iPads, mobile phones and our pets but not ourselves.

Income protection is something that could help you financially if you were unable to work from illness or injury or loss of earnings.

If you haven’t considered what would happen if you were just one month from being on the breadline then contact us for a no obligation financial review or Income Protection quote



*Legal and General Deadline to Breadline research 2017

New research has suggested that UK’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are optimistic about the global economy and their role in it.  If this applies to you and you have built up a healthy balance sheet, you may be considering how you can release money from your business in a tax efficient way.

Most business owners are aware how they can do this through dividend payments or by paying a higher salary or bonus.  However, making a pension contribution may be something that you have not considered.  We believe this may be an effective tax efficient option for you and would be keen to discuss the benefits with you.

£40,000 is the limit for individuals on what can be paid into a pension each tax year, but this is reduced for anyone with an annual income which exceeds £150,000.

However, any pension contributions made by the company (rather than the individual) will normally reduce the business’s overall profit, meaning the amount of Corporation Tax is also reduced.  Unlike personal contributions, there is no limit on how much a company can pay into a pension scheme.


Please note, depending on the employee’s previous contribution history, there may be an annual allowance charge which we can calculate for you.

Both a short-term way of extracting profit and a long-term way of planning for retirement, paying into a pension is a great way to make the most of your business’s income.


HM Revenue and Customs practice and the law relating to taxation are complex and subject to individual circumstances and changes which cannot be foreseen

For specific tax advice please refer to an accountant or tax specialist

While homeowners can still benefit from low mortgage rates, savers will be struggling to enjoy any kind of growth on money they have on deposit, leading some to consider a riskier investment.

If you're considering investing in the stock market, one crucial and very personal issue is, quite simply, how you feel about the prospect of putting money at risk and your ability to accommodate any loss in value.

What's your appetite for risk?

It's a fact that risk and the potential for reward go hand in hand: Investments that are low in risk are low in potential reward, whereas the more risk you're willing to take with your money the greater the potential for reward.

Factors in determining risk

As investment advisers, we will consider a range of factors  when assessing your attitude to investment risk:

  • Age - how old you are may affect how you would like to invest, particularly the closer you get to retirement.
  • The need for emergency cash - you should always keep a certain amount readily accessible (for example, in a deposit account) in the event of an emergency or as a foundation for your longer-term savings and investment.
  • Can you afford to take a risk? - if your investments dropped in the short term, do you have the time to wait for them to recover?
  • Can you afford not to take a risk? - leaving all your money on deposit may carry minimal risk, but you may miss out on higher potential returns and possibly see the spending power of that money fall due to inflation.
  • Are there tax-efficient opportunities available - such as pensions or ISAs?

Devising an appropriate investment strategy

Once you are clear about the risk you need to take to reach your goals and you feel entirely comfortable with your risk profile, you'll need an investment strategy that is finely calibrated to deliver the results you’re looking for.

This is where a number of other key aspects of investment come into play:

  1. How to avoid the ‘eggs-in-basket’ principle. We can make sure your portfolio is invested across a range of assets in order that the positive performance of some neutralises the negative performance of others.
  2. Making sure that your money is in the hands of some of the best and most consistent investment managers in the business.
  3. Making sure you can give your investments time - the longer you can leave your investments in place, the more likely you are to cope with any short-term changes in market value.

Talk to us

As members of Openwork, one of the UK’s largest networks of financial advice businesses, we follow a clear and thorough process designed to clarify exactly what you need from your investments. We also have access to a meticulously researched and managed range of investments specifically designed to meet clients’ different needs.

Taken together, you will know not only that your money is in good hands, but also that given time, there is an increased level of probability that it will perform in line with your expectations.

Need advice?

Good investment advice involves building a clear picture of the results you're looking for, taking into account your current financial position, your future goals and your personal attitude towards the subject of investment risk.

Talk to us for expert advice.

The value of investments and any income from them can fall as well as rise. You may not get back the amount originally invested.

The week featured here is 23 – 27 October 2017; a period that saw a number of important global events.

Toni Meadows, Chief Investment Officer of the Omnis Managed Portfolio Service
“My day-to-day work life is broadly split into two roles. One is to monitor and keep in close contact with the managers of the Omnis funds range, while the other is to lead the Omnis Managed Portfolio Service. This is where my team allocates money across the individual Omnis funds according to the risk preferences of the investors whose money we are responsible for.”

An early start and my first port of call is to check what has happened overnight in Asian markets given Sunday’s Japanese general election. Stock markets reacted well to president Abe’s victory, which is good news for our Omnis Asia Pacific Equity Fund. We check in with the fund manager at Baillie Gifford to see how he reacted and his views on the implications of the result.

The team gets together in the afternoon for our quarterly analyst meeting. While we meet formally every week, this is an extended discussion and our chance to talk in real depth about how we are investing in each of the Omnis funds, as well as upcoming meetings and changes to the global economic environment.

The morning starts with a call with Schroders, who manage the Omnis UK Equity and Omnis Global Bond funds. Of interest to us today is how the funds may be impacted by upcoming policy meetings by the world’s big central banks, one of the tasks of which is to set interest rates.

Later that day, our attentions turn to the US where we recently changed the manager of the Omnis US Equity Fund. We are in regular contact with the new manager T. Rowe Price to get an update on performance, buys and sells within the fund and investment outlook for the country.

Given the amount of client money we manage, it is no surprise we are often invited to various high-level conferences and events hosted by top investment strategists and economists. Today I attend Pimco’s Global Advisory Board summit with fascinating speeches from the likes of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, ex-US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, and Jean-Claude Trichet, who was president of the European Central Bank from 2003 to 2011.

From that, I rush back to the office for the Openwork Investment & Proposition Committee, another valuable safeguard for investors, where I am tasked with running through our investment choices for senior directors and non-executives.

Much of today is spent with advisers. Having recently finished our Masterclass events, a series of roadshows meeting advisers up and down the country, I’ve scheduled some follow-up one-on-one meetings. As the Omnis Managed Portfolio Service is a relatively new proposition, it is important to outline exactly how the team works and the benefit we can bring to our investors.

In the afternoon, all eyes are on the European Central Bank, which intends to extend its bond-buying programme until at least September 2018.

After a busy week, it is good to spend some time catching up on research with notes from external economists. I also spend some time on Bloomberg screens, checking the progress of the Omnis funds and analyst notes on yesterday’s news.

As is often the case, I end the working week with plenty of questions buzzing around my head. What is the likelihood of the Bank of England raising interest rates next week? And how might UK stocks and the pound react? While I am certainly looking forward to a relaxing weekend ahead, I can’t help but ponder what surprises wait for me on Monday.

If you'd like to know more about Omnis Investments and the Omnis Managed Portfolio Service, please get in touch.

Given the nature of social media and the millions of us who use it every day, you probably weren’t alone in posting pictures, videos and status updates showing off your recent Christmas presents and festive celebrations.

But did you stop to think that posting information like this on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat could be advertising your property, your whereabouts and your latest expensive Christmas gadget to criminals, and potentially void your home insurance?

Counting the cost of burglary
There were 650,000 domestic burglaries in the 12 months to March 2017, costing, on average, £2,267 in stolen valuables and £566 worth of damage.

Figures also show that the number of claims relating to domestic burglary increases by a whopping 36% from November to March. This could be down to the longer nights providing more opportunities for criminal activity, and the likelihood of burglars finding expensive purchases and presents following the Christmas period.

Take a break from social media
If you suffer a break-in shortly after publishing your latest holiday snaps on social media, it could lead to your home insurance provider deciding you are partly at fault for advertising an empty property and this could affect your claim.

Are you vulnerable?
When assessing an application for home insurance, insurers are reportedly considering asking homeowners if they use social media, as the risk of over-sharing becomes more and more common. If you use social media and think it could affect your home insurance, consider taking the following steps to reduce your risk:

  1. Turn off location-based services on the social media accounts you use
  2. Never share your home address on social media
  3. Make your posts private so that only your friends and connections can see them

It also makes sense to review your home insurance cover, especially after Christmas or birthdays when you may have bought or received expensive items.

If you’re concerned you may not have the right type of cover, or you think you might be underinsured, please talk to us.

Keeping your investments close to home may have its advantages, but only by looking globally can you be sure you’re making the most of diversification.

Imagine mealtimes without choice; your culinary options limited only to British food. No stir-fries, no fajitas, no sushi – no burgers even, and fewer curries (our British national dish the tikka masala excluded, of course).

From a similar perspective, those limiting their investments to just the UK – whether that be in stocks, bonds or property – may be missing out on some much-needed spice and flavours that could be achieved from overseas markets.

That's not to say UK investments are completely insular, after all, up to three-quarters of earnings from FTSE 100 companies are estimated to be earned in international markets. However, any bad news from the UK economy could similarly affect companies listed in this most-famous of indexes.

Why is diversification important?
Professional investors have long supported the virtues of diversification, that is spreading investments across a wide variety of markets, countries and asset types. Take, for example, Omnis Investment's range of portfolio funds that individually put money to work across the US, Europe, Asia and in so-called emerging markets such as China, Russia and Brazil.

Each of these markets will have a different risk profile, sometimes moving in different directions as the global economy ebbs and flows on political shifts and other news events.

Seeking the best opportunities
An extra safeguard comes in the form of the Omnis Managed Portfolio Service (OMPS), run by a team which spreads the risks by investing (and selling) each of these funds according to when they think they offer the best opportunities for investors.

Economic growth has been picking up in several regions and this coincides with attractive valuations in export-led markets like Europe, so the team have been able to add extra exposure to this positive outlook and earn extra returns for clients.

Meanwhile, looking further afield to Asian and emerging markets has yielded even better returns, though with potentially bigger risks attached to these territories, the team is wary of investing here for more cautious investors.

UK stocks and bonds will always have a big part of play in UK investors' portfolios, not least because of the potential impact of fluctuations in overseas currencies. However, time and time again investors have been proven right to mix their assets.

The complex nature of investing means professionals will always have a lot on their plates but, as a takeaway, diversification makes for real food for thought.

If you'd like to review your investment portfolio to make sure it's properly diversified and in line with your attitude to risk, please get in touch.

2017 was the year of the campaign trail, with several key elections held in countries with great influence on global economics and stock markets. Here, we recap on the political posturing that defined 2017, and what it meant of the global stock markets.

On 20 January, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. Global stock markets had rallied since the election result on 8 November, with many in corporate America hoping to benefit from promised tax reforms. Not everyone was happy. The day after Trump's inauguration, approximately half a million people protested in the Women's March in Washington DC, making it one of the largest one-day protests in American history.

In Europe, the Dutch were hailed as having “defeated populism” in the 15 March election by denying the Geert Wilders-led Party of Freedom’s bid for power.

On 7 May Emmanuel Macron of En Marche! was declared President of France having won the second-round vote against the Marine Le Pen-led National Front by a decisive margin. Again, the election is billed as a win against populism and Europe’s far-right. World stock markets are at their highest point for the year so far.

Across the Channel, the UK general election on 8 June restored Theresa May as Prime Minister, but only after the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland agrees to support a Conservative minority government. As the results came in, the prospect of a hung parliament led to an immediate fall in the value of the pound. May’s intention was to seek an overall majority, paving the way for easier Brexit negotiations.

After a relatively quiet end to the summer, aside from ongoing Brexit discussions, the Eurozone’s biggest player Germany held its federal election on 24 September. The result saw the Christian Democratic Union win only 33% of the vote – its lowest share of the vote since 1949 – but enough to see Angela Merkel remain as Chancellor. Markets then rallied for the last week of September and continued to climb in October.

Into autumn and it was the turn of the Japanese to go to the polls on 22 October. Given the dramatic fall in popularity that many world leaders had found themselves in over the year, it was a relief for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to secure a big election win. The father of ‘Abenomics’ and the ‘three arrows’ policy of monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and structural reform, Abe’s victory was welcomed by a rise in markets.

Elsewhere in Asia, perhaps the most significant global change was happening in China where the hugely powerful Communist party held its five-yearly congress. President Xi Jinping cemented his legacy with his own political philosophy being written into the country’s constitution.

Emerging markets will dominate the electoral calendar in 2018, with votes due in the likes of Russia, Mexico, Brazil and Pakistan.

If you're concerned about how global events could impact your investment portfolio, please get in touch.