Finance and Property

New Vision for Housing Market

Looking at the Future of Neighbourhoods for an Ageing Population

Gillian Girling, Chief Executive of Girlings Retirement Rentals

A new whitepaper, ‘Neighbourhoods of the Future 2’ from The Agile Ageing Alliance and Tata Steel was recently launched at the House of Lords in Westminster, offering a new vision for the housing market, as the UK finds itself in a housing crisis.

The whitepaper advocates a fundamental shift in the way housing is considered. Rather than a series of rungs which the consumer must climb, from starter home upwards and then back down again in later life, buildings need to be capable of adaptation – of morphing to support a growing family and then adjusting to accommodate an ageing one.”

Gillian Girling, Chief Executive of Girlings Retirement Rentals welcomes this whitepaper, and particularly its focus on an ageing population and the need to develop homes and neighbourhoods with older people in mind.

Gillian Girling says, “We are an ageing nation, but housing has not kept pace with the changing needs of the population. House builders and government have in the past focused more on the younger generation, but we are facing a housing crisis that can only be solved by looking at the needs of all generations. The lack of affordable housing for young people, as well as the lack of desirable retirement housing, need to be addressed.”

In the whitepaper, leading experts have shared their views on how neighbourhoods and housing could be developed in the future in a collection of articles in key areas; Housing, Design, Health and Care, Technology, Finance and Ageing Societies.

The paper highlights that ageing populations are a global phenomenon. Towards the end of 2019, there will be more people worldwide over the age of 65 than under the age of 5. And by 2050 in the UK, 30% of the population will be over 60 years old. The question asked is, “Where, and in what type of `homes’ will these older adults live, and to what extent can technology support healthy ageing and independent living?”

One of the major challenges, summarised by Judith Torrington, author of `Future of Ageing: adapting homes and neighbourhoods’ in Neighbourhoods of the Future 2017, is that people age differently but physical decline is inevitable.

She highlights that the key features of accessibility – level access, flush thresholds, wide doors and circulation space and entrance level toilets are found in only 5% of homes in England. Also, older people may have difficulty getting in and out of baths, walking upstairs, bending down and reaching up. Some of these needs can be met by adapting existing homes. But studies indicate that 16% of homes would need major structural alterations to become fully accessible, and in 28% of homes alteration would not be feasible.

The whitepaper considers several housing options such as retrofitting existing homes to better suit people as they get older, multigenerational living (which is on the rise in the USA) and mixed communities with housing built to suit different ages.

There is also some consideration given to renting, especially when it comes to community-based housing associations. Jim Ripley CEO, Phoenix Community Housing pointed out that by 2028 around one third of the residents who live in Phoenix homes will be 75 years old or more. Today, just 12% of their tenants and 5% of their leaseholders are aged 75 or over.

He says, “We knew that lots of older people were struggling to maintain their homes. Many struggled with heating bills, and with the garden and the cleaning. And we knew that, presented with the right offer, many would be keen to downsize to properties that better met their needs.”

Renting in retirement is on the increase. The Centre for Ageing Better predicts that by 2040, a third of people over 60 could be living in rented accommodation.  Research agency Boomer found that 27% of people between 55 and 85 said they would choose to rent instead of buy, citing a lack of stress, being able to live in a place where they could not afford to buy, avoiding stamp duty and the ability to release equity.

Gillian says, “Renting is increasingly a key consideration for people when they downsize. Many of our tenants have chosen to downsize and rent in a retirement development rather than buy because our apartments are adapted to meet the needs of older people, they also offer some support services such as a 24-hour Careline and have a manager on site. Renting can make financial sense too as people no longer have to contend with maintenance costs or service charges and if they have sold a property they can use the capital to invest or spend and enjoy their retirement.”

“We provide assured tenancy contracts, so our tenants have long term security in their homes. Most of the apartments are based in modern purpose-built developments with communal facilities so there is a ready-made community where people can stay socially active, which can improve their health and wellbeing.

“As pointed out in the paper, the pursuit of age-friendly housing is important because very few variables have as much power to support or derail healthy, productive ageing and the related quality of life,” adds Mrs Girling.

For more information on Girlings visit www.girlings.co.uk

The Printing Charity

Still Going Strong After Nearly 200 Years

Beaverbrook House

The Printing Charity, the only dedicated national charity for people in the print sector, is finding that its support is just as relevant today as when it was set up in 1827. In its recent Impact Report beneficiaries made it clear that its empathy with their needs is what they most appreciate.

Neil Lovell, the charity’s Chief Executive says, “Depending on the age of the person, the most common issues we are contacted about relate to changes in someone’s personal circumstances from job loss to bereavement or financial shocks such as not having the money to pay for essentials like keeping the heating on or bigger items such as repairing a broken boiler.”

The charity helps people of all ages through a range of support including one-off grants and regular financial assistance, two sheltered homes for people who have retired from the sector, and signposting to specialist services.

People who work or have worked in the sector for three years, not necessarily consecutively or for the same employer, in printing, paper, publishing, packaging, graphic arts or the allied trades are eligible to apply for assistance.

Dependants of people who worked for three years in the sector are also eligible to apply.

Financial help

One-off grants can be used to help with essential day-to-day expenses as well as things such as home adaptations and mobility aids to support independent living.

Regular financial assistance for those on very low incomes is paid twice a year to help pay for essentials. 

The charity also provides care cost support to help with nursing and residential care and care packages in sheltered housing or people’s own homes.

“I am writing to thank you for the donation you have made towards a level access shower for my wife. This will help us gain some independence. I was a printer for many years and have to take on a major challenge with my wife’s disability.” Beneficiary

Sheltered Homes

Southwood Court

The charity’s two sheltered home developments, Beaverbrook House in Bletchley and Southwood Court in Basildon, have their origins in the charity’s former almshouses and are part of its commitment to looking after people aged 60 years and over, who have retired from the print sector.

Beaverbrook House has 32 self-contained apartments and Southwood Court has 40. Both sheltered home developments are close to local amenities and provide independent living in a caring, safe community where there is a small team on hand to help residents access support if needed.

The homes have a positive benefit with 100 per cent of the residents interviewed for the charity’s Impact Report saying they feel safer, 93 per cent feel happier, and 60 per cent feel less isolated since moving in. 

“We love living at Southwood Court. We are still doing what we like to do and enjoy the independent living, especially knowing there is a helping hand close by.” Resident

Signposting

As many of the people who contact the charity for help have complex needs, it works with them to assess the most appropriate support. In addition to financial assistance, this might include signposting them through its helpline to specialist services, such as debt management, mental health, and counselling.

It is not always easy to ask for help but the charity’s Welfare & Wellbeing Team is a friendly voice at the end of the phone and all calls are confidential.

To find out more about the help on hand, please  visit The Printing Charity website at www.theprintingcharity.org.uk

Pension Advice

Think Twice Before Cashing in a Small Pension Pot

Recent research from the FCA revealed that 88% of the upwards of 825,000 pension pots cashed in since April 2015 were worth under £30,0001. But should we be cashing in our smaller pension pots and what are the implications if we do?

It can be easy to think that a small pension pot won’t make a difference, and although £30,000 alone may be difficult to live off during your retirement years, the power of a smaller pension pot is still a valuable asset and can make a big difference to your standard of living in retirement.

For example, a £30,000 pension pot could bring in a handy monthly income of £1892   which could cover council tax, home and contents insurance and water bills. So even though the pot may be small, it certainly is mighty!

The temptation to cash in your pension can be hard to resist, but experts at pensions advice specialist, Portafina, highlight three key things you should consider before cashing in your smaller pension pots, and why maybe you should think again:

1. Check your tax-free cash first

From the age of 55, you can access up to 25% of your personal pensions tax-free. So, if you decide to take money from your pot, check if your tax-free allowance will cover your needs first. If it does, it means you won’t be handing anything over to the taxman, and you’ll still have valuable pension savings invested for your future.

2. Be clear on the tax implications

Any money you take from your personal pension pot over your tax-free cash allowance will be treated as income and therefore liable to income tax. Before you make any final decisions, make sure you know what the exact tax implications are. No-one wants to pay more to the taxman than they absolutely have to!

3. Remember the power of your pension

If you’re thinking of cashing in your pension to put it into a standard savings account, you might want to think again. A modern pension that’s properly invested is extremely powerful. Tax breaks and compound interest mean that your personal pension is capable of outperforming most other savings platforms. Whereas most bank current accounts pay little to no interest.

To help illustrate these considerations further, experts at Portafina reviewed the following real-life example of when it can be tempting to cash in your small pension pot. Looking at this in real life terms,

You’re 55 and earning £25,000 per year. You have a £30,000 personal pension and you need £5,000 to clear a debt. You decide to cash in the whole pension because it doesn’t feel like a huge amount and put what’s left, after you’ve taken your £5,000, in a standard current account earning 1% interest per year (which is pretty generous, unless you opt for a fixed-term deal).

In this scenario, you suddenly owe the taxman £4,730, which means you have £20,270 of your pension left to put into your savings account. After five years that remaining lump sum is worth £21,309.

Now let’s say you take the £5,000 you need from your personal pension and keep the rest invested. You owe the taxman nothing because that £5,000 is within your tax-free cash allowance. And, assuming an average annual pension growth of 5% after charges3, after five years your pot would be worth £32,084.

Jamie Smith-Thompson, managing director of pension advice specialists Portafina says, “The bottom line is, smaller pension pots can be extremely valuable. If you are 55 or over and thinking of cashing in a smaller pot then seeking regulated advice could be the difference between paying a large, unnecessary tax bill or not.

“And if you have five, ten or more years until you reach retirement then it helps to know that the potential purchasing power of smaller pensions is very real. Essentially, it means more of those day-to-day bills are covered. And sticking to the principles of adding little and often and leaving your pot invested for as long as possible can make a big difference.”

For more information on the purchasing power of smaller pensions visit: www.portafina.co.uk

Alleviate the Stress of Moving

Grove Place Launches ‘At Your Service’ Relocation Package

Grove Place luxury retirement community are launching the  ‘At Your Service’ specialist package to alleviate the stress of moving through practical support.

Nestled on the edge of the New Forest, Grove Place luxury retirement community offers outstanding one, two- and three-bedroom apartments and bungalows to own, together with hotel-inspired facilities and the reassurance that 24-hour care is at hand.

Those embarking on a new and exciting chapter of retirement life also know that moving can be a stressful time, which is why Grove Place have teamed up with the Senior Move Partnership to offer the ‘At Your Service’ relocation package to their residents – worth in excess of £4,000.

The scheme offers both financial and practical support, from arranging estate agents and help navigating the legal process, to sorting and packing possessions. Other elements covered include sourcing a removal company, arranging the auction of unwanted items, switching utility providers, commissioning interior design services, assembling new furniture, and sending out change of address notifications.

Under the scheme, Grove Place will pay for 10 hours of the Senior Move Partnership’s services and any legal fees associated with a move.

Grove Place Village Manager, David Knight says, “We are proud to be able to offer our residents a new level of support so that their move to Grove Place is as effortless as possible, it is incredibly important to us that our residents start their new chapter here with ease – from the very beginning”.

For more information about Grove Place visit www.groveplace.co.uk

Spanish Property

New Show Homes Demonstrate the Best of Spanish Living

Visitor numbers to Spain have hit record-breaking levels for the sixth consecutive year, following a ninth consecutive year of growth. 82.8 million people flocked to Spain for their holidays during 2018, according to the Spanish National Institute for Statistics (INE) – 1.1% more than in 2017. Visitors were also freer with their cash in 2018, with spending up by 3.3% to around €1,086 per visitor. 

Home sales also shot up in 2018 – by 10.1% over the course of the year, according to the latest figures from the INE. With both tourism and the housing market booming, leading Spanish home builder Taylor Wimpey España is racing to meet the demand for holiday homes in hotspots such as the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca. Together with its operations in Mallorca, the expert builder is launching six schemes in the first half of 2019. It has also just launched two superb new show homes, designed to enable visitors to feel what it would be like to own a second home in Spain.

Marc Pritchard, Sales and Marketing Director of Taylor Wimpey España says, “When we create a show home, the idea is to provide the perfect balance of tasteful elegance while still allowing visitors to picture how they would place their own stamp on the property. It’s a practiced art! It’s also important to create interiors that work with the flow of each individual property, which varies from development to development.

The new show home at Horizon Golf, in La Cala Resort, Mijas (Malaga), exudes warmth and comfort. The cream, brown and copper tones bring to mind happy family holidays, as befits the development’s stunning location, which offers panoramic golf course views in a spectacular natural environment. The show home creates a sense of welcome the moment visitors arrive, enabling them to truly imagine what it would be like to enjoy such a fantastic property for themselves.

The three-bedroom townhouses are priced from €435,000 plus VAT, with airy rooms and large terraces providing a lovely setting for creating cherished family memories. There’s also a time-limited offer to purchase one of the €455,000 (plus VAT) homes at Horizon Golf and get furnishings included in the purchase price.

Along the coast on the Costa Blanca, Kiruna Residencial also boasts an elegant new show home. The sleek, contemporary interior delivers an air of sophistication and style – this is a property that visitors can picture welcoming their friends to and entertaining in, as well as enjoying themselves. The bold use of glass to divide up the townhouse’s living space means that the spacious property is filled with light, enabling visitors to imagine themselves enjoying it whatever the season. Prices start from €168,000 plus VAT for a three-bedroom townhouse.

With tourism in Spain continuing to go from strength to strength, show homes will remain an important part of the country’s second home offering. The tourism industry as a whole grew by 3.1% in 2018 in terms of its number of jobs, with the creation of an additional 50,093 jobs, according to Social Security figures. With second homes drawing visitors back to the country time and again, the role of second homes in supporting wider tourism spending is not to be underestimated.

Marc Pritchard explains, “Purchasing a second home in Spain shows a commitment to returning to the country repeatedly over a number of years, so it’s great news for the Spanish economy, both in terms of the property purchase and as a result of the future contribution to the tourism sector.

“Of course it’s also of huge benefit to the buyer, providing them with the perfect holiday home and, ultimately, the option to retire to Spain in the future should they so wish. It’s a situation in which everyone wins and show homes are often the very first step in that process.”

For more information please contact Taylor Wimpey España today on 08000 121 020 or visit www.taylorwimpeyspain.com

If you reside outside of the UK, you will need to call 00 34 971 706 972.

Retirement Living

Active Downsizers Head To The River Gardens at Greenwich 

Older people are looking for more independence and are intent on maintaining their lifestyle according to research from the Institute for Ageing & Health at Newcastle University. Add that to the fact one in three people will now live to the age of 100, instead of one in 100, according to the Office of National Statistics, it makes sense more downsizers are looking at homes that offer a more active lifestyle.

For buyers looking for life outside of a retirement village, while still offering a host of amenities, Bellway Homes’ The River Gardens in Greenwich will whet the appetite.

The River Gardens offers downsizers luxury living surrounded by riverside views, with exclusive access to a private gym and a swimming pool. There is also a 24-hour concierge service and while there are plenty of gardens and a tow path to get active on foot or by bike, the development is set in a peaceful environment for the best of both worlds.

Emma Hamlett, Sales Director at Bellway Homes explains, “For those seeking more independence, The River Gardens offers an excellent choice for downsizing. The use of the private gym and swimming pool allows those who like to keep active, to do so close to home, while incredible riverside views and the close proximity to the bustling, vibrant Greenwich make it easier to have everything to hand. We encourage anyone considering downsizing from their current house to a stylish apartment to come along and see our development for themselves.”

All apartments are finished to a high standard throughout, including open plan living spaces, balconies and quality kitchen appliances. A typical three-bedroom apartment, features a spacious, open plan kitchen, dining and living area, with integrated kitchen appliances.

The bedrooms have plenty of storage space and an en-suite to the master bedroom. In downsizing, there is no need to sacrifice outdoor space, with the apartment featuring two balconies, to tend to pot plants and admire the views. There is a modern ‘family’ style bathroom, all fitted to the highest quality specification.

Greenwich is a cultural hub famous for its Maritime history including the last-surviving tea clipper, the Royal Observatory, and London’s oldest enclosed Royal Park. Greenwich offers an excellent array of pubs, restaurants and bars, alongside a large variety of shops to satisfy all retail needs ranging from high-street brands and designer boutiques to the Greenwich Market, just a mile away, selling organic produce. Film fanatics can enjoy two cinemas close by, including the Greenwich Picturehouse that regularly host classic films.

The combination of five-star facilities and first-class connections make The River Gardens a sought-after location. With the Cutty Stark DLR Station just a short stroll from the development, residents can navigate the city with ease with frequent services to key London locations.

For more information about Bellway visit www.bellway.co.uk

Housing for the Homeless

Pledge150 Deliver Housing Projects for the Young Homeless

RICS’ campaign to end youth homelessness, in partnership with LandAid, is delivering 29 more bed spaces across five housing projects for young people facing homelessness in the North and Midlands, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The campaign, known as Pledge150, was launched as part of RICS’ 150th anniversary activities last year, and has since delivered more homes for the young homeless across the UK, by raising funds for charities that renovate or refurbish properties for vulnerable young people.

The latest charities and housing projects to receive Pledge150 grants – to deliver 29 bed spaces for young homeless people in Belfast, Birmingham, Manchester, East Cleveland and Glenrothes – are:

Simon Community Northern Ireland – the funds will help renovate a new build property extension in Belfast to deliver eight bed spaces.

St Basils in the West Midlands – their grant will help renovate hostel accommodation in Birmingham, delivering 12 more bed spaces.

Manchester Settlement – the funds will go towards renovating two houses to create four new bed spaces in Manchester.

East Cleveland Youth Housing Trust – their grant will help renovate a two-bed long-term empty property in the East Cleveland area.

YMCA Glenrothes – funds will go towards refurbishing an empty three-bed terraced house or flat in Glenrothes to create three new bed spaces.

Companies such as Alsop, Currie & Brown, Knight Frank, Gleeds, Gerald Eve, Turner & Townsend and LaSalle Investment have all got behind the Pledge150 campaign, raising funds through various initiatives including sporting and cycling challenges, Sleep Outs, tours of historic buildings and corporate dinners.

Meanwhile companies have donated generous funds, with Morson Group contributing £15,000, whilst Deloitte raised and donated an impressive £30,000 towards the campaign.

Pledge150

Matthew Howell, RICS Managing Director, UK & Ireland says, “We’re delighted that Pledge150 has had such great support from the industry. Our aim with this campaign was not only to make a difference by delivering more homes for the young homeless, but to also create a legacy of uniting those who work in property and construction to help end homelessness, and our latest fundraising efforts, which have delivered 29 more bed spaces is testament to this.”

Property Pledge

RICS is continuing its commitment to improving the rising homelessness issue, and as part of this, the organisation is now launching a Property Pledge initiative with LandAid. Together, they are calling on businesses, local authorities and property owners to consider gifting empty or underused property, to help a young vulnerable person, whether it be on a medium-long term lease, or a permanent donation.

Matthew Howell says, “There are various benefits for businesses, organisations or individuals who donate property, as it’s potentially a tax efficient method of giving, which could reduce corporation tax contributions. Landlords will benefit from an improved property too, thanks to LandAid who will refurbish and maintain it, and they have the potential to bring the property back into commercial use if they wish to, after the proposed lease-term.”

Paul Morrish, Chief Executive, LandAid adds, “The Pledge150 campaign is making a real difference to the lives of young homeless people across the UK, and now with the Property Pledge, we have the potential to help hundreds more of the 86,000 young people who find themselves homeless each year.”

For more information about RICS visit www.rics.org/uk/

For more information about LandAid and Pledge 150 visit www.landaid.org

Downsizing and Renting

Renting Can Boost Finances and Social Life for Retirees

Dorothy Franklin and her good
friend, Phil Adams

As people get older, their housing needs change. A family house can suddenly seem too large, too expensive to maintain or the stairs tricky to manage. For all these reasons, downsizing can make sense and growing numbers of over 60s are opting to downsize and rent. 

Research from the Centre for ­Ageing Better reported that 414,000 older people are privately renting, up from 254,000 in 2007. It predicts that by 2040 a third of people aged over 60 could be living in private rented accommodation.

Market leader Girlings Retirement Rentals has seen a year on year increase in the number of enquiries from people wanting to downsize and rent in retirement developments. The benefits include the fact the apartments are designed with older people in mind, they are located in secure, purpose-built developments, there is an on-site manager and a ready-made community of similar aged people, providing social opportunities.

Gillian Girling, Chief Executive, Girlings Retirement Rentals says, “Last year we saw a rise in the number of reservations. One of the reasons for this growth is the fact we offer assured tenancies for tenants, which gives them security of tenure for life if they choose – essentially the same level of security as home ownership.”

“Most retirement developments are in convenient places, with good transport links and shops and doctors’ surgeries close by. Renting also gives people financial freedom. They can budget a fixed amount of rent per month and, as there are no additional maintenance and service charges to pay, there are no surprise bills.”

Dorothy Franklin decided to rent an apartment in Hedingham Place, a retirement development in Sible Hedingham, Essex through Girlings five years ago to be close to her children and grandchildren.  

Since moving in, Dorothy has surprised herself by making some incredible friendships including Phil Adams, who she met in the communal sitting room. Dorothy had been talking about Enfield in North London where she had lived. It turned out that Phil had lived there too, and they discovered they had both lived in Norfolk, were avid Arsenal supporters and had even spent their honeymoons in the same hotel on the Isle of Wight!

Their parallel lives bound the pair together and they have become firm friends. They enjoy spending time with each other’s families, Dorothy’s family have welcomed Phil and Dorothy has travelled with Phil to Cambridgeshire to visit his daughters. Dorothy’s son even treated the pair to a trip to Arsenal Stadium as a birthday surprise because they are both such great fans.

Dorothy says, “Since moving into my Girlings apartment I’ve been lucky enough to discover this wonderful friendship I never thought I’d find again. Phil and I have led similar lives and we like the same kind of things.”

Dorothy and Phil run a weekly bingo session in the lounge on Tuesdays and enjoy regular activities and trips including an annual Christmas dinner as well as weekly coffee mornings and television afternoons in the lounge.

Dorothy rents on an assured tenancy and says she is there for life. She adds, “There’s a lovely atmosphere here and everyone is easy going, and we all adore the development manager, who is very helpful. The location is great, we have everything we need in the vicinity including a Co-Op over the road and the Minister of the local church often pops in and has coffee with us. I’m very happy living here.”

Hedingham Place has facilities including a communal garden, communal lounge, laundry room and guest suite. Girlings has one-bedroom apartments available to rent in the development from £725 per calendar month on an assured tenancy.

Girlings is currently holding a sale on many of its properties across the UK in East Yorkshire, Dorset, Lancashire, Essex and Surrey. For more information go to www.girlings.co.uk

For further information about Girlings visit www.girlings.co.uk   

Becoming an Entrepreneur

Turning Your Passion into an Income

February is the perfect time to plan your goals and career path for the New Year ahead.

Research by Wix.com has found that 50% of Brits between the ages of 25-34 have considered turning their hobby into an online business. But age needn’t be a factor, and for those who are looking for something positive to do during their retirement, working from home can be a great way to generate income and find a purpose in life.

In this age where everyone is striving for work-life balance and flexible working, it’s not surprising that the country’s workers want to turn their passion into a business, become their own boss and ultimately live their work dream. In fact, almost half (44%) of those surveyed have admitted that they would prefer to be their own boss and turn their hobby into a business.

Plus, more than a quarter (32%) believe that they’re better at their hobby than their current job, and a quarter believe they can make up to £4,000 pounds a month from their hobby which is significantly higher than what full-time employees make.

Below are the top types of business that are perfect to consider as an entrepreneur.

Brits are most keen to turn these hobbies into an online business:

 Culinary creators: cooks (19%)

 Pastry aficionado: bakers (19%)

 Shutterbug: Photographers (18%)

 Sports buff (16%)

 Artists: Drawing/painting (12%)

So what’s stopping people from taking the plunge and joining the 4.5 million self-employed workers in the UK? Surprisingly, aspiring entrepreneurs are hesitant to start up their ventures because a quarter (35%) don’t know where to start and 20% are concerned their digital skills are not  good enough – even with the exposure of the Internet and the likes of Google.

Here are some tips to take your side hustle to the next level and turn your passion into an online business.

1. Set up shop online

A website is a must for any industry offering a service or product, but it doesn’t need to be an expensive affair. Consider using a free website building platform such as Wix.com which offers a range of customisable design layouts. Plus, with Ascend by Wix – a suite of 20 products that empowers entrepreneurs to start, manage and promote their online business – you just can’t go wrong.  Ensure your website is mobile-friendly as most people prefer browsing and shopping while they’re on-the-go.

2. Make it a picture, perfect, performance

Having stunning images on your website is absolutely crucial, especially since shoppers don’t have the luxury to smell and ‘feel’ your products. This means that you need to place emphasis on how you showcase products. You can use your smartphone camera to begin as long as all images are in high-resolution (300 DPI).

3. Display customer reviews

Add compelling reviews on your product pages from people who have purchased products in the past to create a sense of trust and entice potential customers to buy your product. Make it easy for customers to leave and find reviews for specific products. A simple way to encourage customer reviews is to include a call to action (‘write a review’) on product pages, within confirmation pages or via emails.

4. Grow your social audience

Even if you have the most exquisite products in the world, nobody will know if you don’t tell them. Social media is a great platform to market your business effectively and on a budget. Instagram and Facebook are the two most popular platforms to use thanks to their visual appeal.

To start gaining followers you need to post images and events daily. Make sure you incorporate hashtags (#) in your Instagram captions to help engage with your audience and drive followers. Give people a reason to want to engage like offering deals (e.g. ‘hump day’ 20% off) on Wednesdays, or doing ‘Friday feelings’ where you round up of products, events or news that are relevant that your audience will love! 

5. Keep customers coming back

Email marketing is one of the most effective tools to increase customer retention. When a customer buys a product, send them an email to thank them. Also, reward your customers with extra perks to boost customer loyalty. For example, offer a special discount code on their next purchase. Go the extra mile by sending them a birthday message. Customers love personalisation and being remembered!

For details about Wix visit www.wix.com

New Cold Calling Law

Pensions Cold Calling Ban is now Law

The government ban on pensions cold calling is now law. This ban covers unsolicited calls, texts and emails. This good news provides much-needed extra protection for the millions of people who save into a private pension.

Alistair McQueen, Head of Savings & Retirement at Aviva says, “The message is clear: if you receive unsolicited contact about your pension, hang-up the phone, delete the email or dump the text. It is now illegal to make such contact, and any perpetrator could be subject to a fine of up to £500,000.

“This is good news, but there is no room for complacency. Fraudsters continue to circle the pensions market – the biggest single source of private wealth in the UK. We may spend 40 years saving, so we should spend more than 40 minutes considering our options at retirement. We should not feel rushed into action.”

Aviva’s top tips to protect your savings

If you think you’ve been scammed – act immediately: If you’ve already signed something you’re now unsure about, contact your pension provider straight away. They may be able to stop a transfer that hasn’t taken place yet. Call the police service called “Action Fraud” on 0300 123 2040 to report it.

If you have doubts about what to do, ask The Pensions Advisory Service for help. Call them on 0800 011 3797

Or visit the TPAS website at www.thepensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk for free pensions advice and information.

Hang up on all cold calls

Unsolicited phone calls, text or emails about your pension are now illegal. Scammers will often claim they’re from a government-backed body. These organisations would never phone or text to offer a pension review.

If something looks too good to be true

Beware of unregulated investments offering ‘guaranteed returns’. These include exotic sounding investments like hotels, vineyards or other overseas ventures, and deals where your money is all in one place – and therefore more at risk.

Visit the FCA’s Scamsmart website at www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart to see if the deal you’re being offered is a known scam or has the hallmarks of a scam. And don’t be rushed into making a decision. Scammers will try to pressure you with ‘time limited offers’ or send a courier to your door to wait while you sign documents. Take your time to make all the checks you need – even if this means turning down an ‘amazing deal’.

Make sure your adviser is registered

Scammers sometimes pose as financial advisers. Check your adviser is registered on the FCA website at www.fca.org.uk/register and that they’re authorised to give advice on pensions. If you deal with someone who is not regulated you may not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme if things go wrong. And don’t be taken in by smart websites or brochures – professional-looking marketing materials are not a guarantee of a company’s authenticity.

Don’t let a friend talk you into an investment

Check everything yourself. People have fallen for scams because they’d been recommended by a friend. Do your homework, even if you consider yourself or your friend to be financially savvy. False confidence can lead to getting stung and with a pension, it might be years before you discover you’ve been scammed.  

For more information about Aviva click on www.aviva.co.uk

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