Full of energy and enthusiasm, it will perhaps come as no surprise that Hilary was once an international athlete and world record holder, representing Great Britain, in 100km and 24-hour events. Training and competing are in her blood, and even during lockdown she found ways to exercise and socialise using the Zwift online cycling app. She is the perfect example of someone who has embraced life after work.
Find yourself a purpose
Born and brought up in Buckinghamshire, Hilary moved to London when she started working as a scientist. A specialist in medical research in radiation biology, she joined the Department of Health post the nuclear accident at Chernobyl and went on to diversify into the areas of environmental hazards and emergency planning. Along with competing as a world-class athlete, she had a full and busy work and social life and when she retired aged 62 had no plans to sink into an armchair never to be seen again.
“I probably had more idea than some people about what I wanted my retirement to be,” she explains. “Some of my colleagues retiring at the same time had no clue. But because I’ve always had an interest in athletics, and knew I could help out in that field, I was confident that I would definitely have something to do. I also wanted to do up my house and travel and do some volunteering. Because I was comfortably off, I decided I would offer to work pro bono for organisations that mattered to me.”
Be financially curious
Having inherited a house from her aunt and being a single woman, Hilary had always been financially independent and was far from clueless when it came to her finances.
“I had been thinking about financial planning before I retired and to give the Civil Service its due, it had run a lot of courses about retirement,” says Hilary. “I didn’t have a total lack of knowledge because I’d always had investments but I suppose I’d had a lack of interest. Once I realised I needed to do something about the future, without giving too much money to the tax man, I started looking around for some advice.”
It’s all about the detail
A bit of internet searching brought Hilary to Robert Wilcocks, which she describes as “serendipity”.
“We first chatted on the phone and then we met up in London. What really interested me was all the detail he went into, of how I was living my life, what I wanted to do with my life. And that’s what really impressed me; he went through what I wanted, what I needed and what was going to be best for me… before we even got onto my finances!
“He’s helped me with tax returns, sorting out a will and power of attorney but most importantly he’s ensured that I’m not going to run out of money and that I can spend what I want on myself. That was so useful and gave me the confidence to lead the sort of life I want to lead. While the essence of the advice is financial, it’s also so much more than that. It’s peace of mind and knowing I’m in a safe pair of hands. There’s a personal touch and it makes all the difference.”
The future’s bright
These days, alongside her sporting endeavours, and the Times crossword, Hilary also works with the International Association of Ultrarunners and World Athletics, and has done volunteering in her local community with covid vaccinations and sourcing food parcels for the homeless. She certainly lives up to her definition of retiring well, which she believes involves “retaining health, retaining interest and having a zest for life”.
Know what you want
Her advice to others is simple.
“Most importantly, think about what you want to do before you retire. Then ask yourself whether you can afford it. Go and see a financial advisor because it’s always good to have a second opinion even if you think you know what you’re doing, but make sure it’s someone who really listens to you and understands what you want to do with it and how it’s going to fit into your life.”
“With Covid, I took a long hard look at myself and my lifestyle and asked whether I was getting the balance right. Taking ownership of a company involves a lot of hours – for all the right reasons – but you get to a point where you ask yourself ‘should I be rebalancing this and having a bit more me time?’”
Consequently, as he and his fellow co-owners take a step back, the husband and father of two daughters is looking forward to spending more time on the things he enjoys.
“I’m not worried about filling my days,” he says. “I’ve got plenty to do! Golf is a big part of my life; I love cycling and foreign travel. I suppose a bit of consultancy work might be a possibility, but I’m quite happy at the prospect of all this ‘me time’ and doing what I want to do.”
A matter of priorities
Being a businessman, Andy is clearly used to balancing budgets and money management, had not given a lot of thought to his own financial planning.
“I was always a saver but didn’t have much towards a long-term plan. As you progress through life you do start to think that there will come a point in time when you won’t have a salary and you need something to live off. So the importance shifts and instead of this being priority number five, you realise you have to give more consideration to it.
“To be honest, I was letting it all tick along in the background. My first financial goal had always been to be mortgage free, which I now am and that was a big achievement. It allows for a lot of cash to be retained and redistributed elsewhere but when I started looking at my various pension pots and how they were doing, they didn’t look very good. They needed to be consolidated and I knew I needed to find someone I trusted.”
It’s all about the detail
Which is where Martin Wilcocks came in. Recommendations notwithstanding, Andy put his professional skills and precision eye to the test in a thorough examination of Martin’s character and credentials.
“I’m an engineer by trade,” he says by way of explanation. “So I always do a lot of research. When someone suggests something I like to do my own background checks, to educate myself so I can have an informed discussion and with my position, I have a lot of interviewing experience. I hold the view that what’s on a piece of paper is just that, on a piece of paper, until I meet the person face to face.
“I had had a bad experience elsewhere with another financial advisor. I’d told him from day one that it was myself looking for financial services, but he saw it as a way to snare me, my colleagues and the business. When that didn’t transpire he became quite unprofessional.
“With Martin I had a good feeling straightaway. I really feel like I get a personal service. I’m not just a number on a register. Martin wanted to know about my family, my daughters, my history, hobbies, football. It’s a personal as well as professional experience and that dynamic is extremely important to me. ”
Peace of mind
As an Everton supporter Andy is used to emotional rollercoasters and is also happy that he can now relax when it comes to his finances going into retirement whenever that may be.
“I’m not expecting any financial concerns. I’m not an extravagant person, but I’m looking forward to quality time with my family and life at a slower pace knowing my girls are provided for. Martin takes a very holistic, generational view and he’s shown me how I can protect my money in terms of passing it on and living the way I want to live.”
Seize the day
When it comes to advice on retirement, Andy’s research brain kicks in once again.
These were certainly familiar emotions for Mary Elson, 71, who lost her eldest son James, a merchant banker, and husband Ian, a research chemist, to cancer within a few months of each other in the autumn of 2012 and the spring of 2013.
“It was a very, very difficult time,” she recalls. “But we are a very close family. There are only five and a half years between my children, they’re close in age and they were brilliant.”
Debunk the money myths
Fortunately for Mary, who alongside working and raising four children had completed an Open University degree in history and French, money matters were not a complete mystery.
“I had a tiny personal pension and I hadn’t done very much with my money, whereas my husband had a very good pension,” she explains. “I decided that I needed to look at my situation. I know a lot of husbands are reluctant to talk about that kind of thing, but fortunately Ian was quite willing to discuss it. He was actually a bit useless at keeping a check on things! His view was ‘I have a good pension, I don’t need to worry’. I had left Ian to sort it all out but I started to get a bit panicky and thought that if anything happened to him I would have no idea.”
Luckily, Martin Wilcocks had been advising the couple for a number of years before Ian passed away and proved to be pillar of support for Mary when he became ill.
“Martin and Robert were absolutely fantastic at sorting everything out. They were so supportive; quite honestly I don’t know what I would have done without them,” she says with real feeling.
Looking to the future
After six years of supporting and looking after James and Ian, Mary was more than happy to continue looking to Wilcocks and Wilcocks for advice.
“They ask you what you want out of life and they help you deal with your money so you can achieve what you want to achieve. They are not trying to make money quickly, they are trying to be sensible and give you a decent income that you can be happy with and fairly sure of. We know each other so well. I can ask them anything at any time and I trust what they say.
“Of course, it’s different for everybody. Some people don’t want to do much at all, but I wanted to do things with my life. After six horrendous years I wanted to do stuff!”
And do stuff, she did. Travel was top of her wish list along with visiting friends and family across the world.
“I went out to Nepal with my youngest son Will, who was working there and did a trek up a mountain. I’m interested in Napoleon so took myself off to South Africa and got a boat to St Helena. I visited my cousin in Australia, went to Jordan, the South Pacific, Mexico, Peru and stayed with my friend Helen in Indiana where Ian and I lived when we were first married…”
Plan well, live well
At home on the English/Welsh border Mary fills her time eating out, seeing friends, sewing, knitting, enjoying culture and looking after her “massive garden”. She also finds herself in high demand with her eight grandchildren, aged from the eldest at 17 to the youngest and cheekiest four-year-old twins.
Life is good, underpinned by the fact that she and Martin chat regularly and meet up twice a year to discuss how things are going and to plan for the future. Their meetings involve a lot of fun, too, and Mary is very clear that her lifestyle could have been quite different if she hadn’t taken an interest or had their support.
“Definitely speak to your husband and get financial advice before you retire,” she says. “Personal recommendation can be very useful and it’s good if you can have some kind of financial independence. I certainly did not organise my pension planning and I wished I had done something sooner for sure. The earlier, the better. It’s really important. You have to look at a sensible plan for your future. Martin and Rob lay out that plan.”
”Martin provided very good advice on how to fund our pensions through the company to save corporation tax.ADAM MULLINMANAGING PARTNER, SOLUTIONS IN SERVICE LTD
”Martin gave me a very clear understanding of how he would transfer my pension and how it would be invested.DAMEON HULSESANDBACH
”Martin is the consummate professional who has always delivered for myself and my business partner Joe Dwek CBE.ROY KENNYMANAGING DIRECTOR, VVHC LTD
”I selected martin from a list of 5 financial advisors via the vouched for website. the quality and range of materials on the Willcocks and Willcocks website provided very comprehensive information, but it took me one phone call to be convinced that Martin was easily the right choice. the brief induction he gave me on the mechanics of his management strategy and the initial proposed outline model gave me confidence which reinforced that decision. so far, my initial requirements of facilitating a pension drawdown arrangement has been very efficiently executed and with minimum fuss. I cannot praise martin highly enough, and specifically mary Wilcock who has been absolutely first class in every detail. superb service for anyone needing expert financial and lifestyle planning, I would highly recommend Willcocks and Willcocks, a value and values-driven family-oriented company.DR TERRY SMITHRETIRED SENIOR LECTURER AND AUTHOR
”Martin tidied up and consolidated 5 old pensions and I now understand where they invest, what I pay in charges and how much they will provide in retirement. I can’t recommend him highly enough.CHRIS MOSSMANAGING DIRECTOR, ISTIDAMA LIMITED
”I took early retirement and wanted two pensions and an isa amalgamated in a way that would fund my retirement. With Martin on board, we don’t see any problems achieving what we are aiming for.DAVE & ANN MCCANNLIVERPOOL
”We were in limbo with no financial plan and then we met Martin and everything changed. We have our pensions sorted, wills in place and everything is in place that we need to secure our future.JON MCHALEDIRECTOR, TAG INDUSTRIAL SCAFFOLDING LIMITED
”Having recognised I needed the help of an independent financial advisor, I set about a comprehensive search of who I believed I could work with, who could provide the knowledge and guidance I needed. This search eventually led me to choose Wilcock’s & Wilcock’s. Following an initial meeting at their offices in Liverpool, I probably became one of Martin’s hardest challenges to win over, due to having several complex pension issues. Martin quickly provided an outline plan on how he saw best to resolve my situation. I was able to challenge and test Martin throughout this process to ensure I had the best solution possible. One of my other reasons for choosing Wilcock’s and Wilcock’s is that this is a family run business. When utilised effectively, I believe the power of a family working together to meet individual customers specific needs, cannot be beaten and this has been proven to be the case thus far. To date Wilcock’s & Wilcock’s have exceeded my expectations, both with their service, as well as meeting the financial returns I expected, which in these uncertain times is not an easy task. My decision to go with Wilcock’s & Wilcock’s has proven to be the right one, and I look forward to working with the family throughout my retirement years.STEVE AUSTINRETIRED ELECTRICAL ENGINEER
”We couldn’t thank Martin enough for his time and the fact that he took personal ownership and pride in making sure we were happy with the pension and investment strategy.JON TAYLORBRABNERS SOLICITORS, LIVERPOOL
”Helen and I would like to thank Martin for the advice around our retirement and financial plans and as far as his investment solution is concerned it was a no-brainer.NIGEL LACEYSTOURBRIDGE
”I took investment and pension advice from Martin. By working out my risk tolerances and setting up my investments he delivered a sound portfolio that I am confident with.DAVID TOURNAFONDMOORECROFTS SOLICITORS, LIVERPOOL
”I had an IFA associated by my accountants. I was happy with their service generally but in the recent past, felt they’d become lazy and complacent. I’d met Rob during that period and immediately felt comfortable to try. Rob clearly articulated his value proposition, which resonated with me. He then laid out a potential approach and strategy, which was clear and unambiguous. The outcome I was initially hoping for has been achieved. In addition, I had an emergency tax payment to make and rob suggested an approach which netted off my liability to the HMRC. Brilliant advice, done without any drama, centred on finding me a solution. I couldn’t have been happier at that time. I think my story demonstrates Rob went beyond what I could have hoped for. He has my back and I’m forever grateful - indeed I couldn’t ask for a better advisor. I trust Rob implicitly, which must be a great place to get to for an adviser...But he’s set the bar now!MICHAEL ANDERSONVICE PRESIDENT, EMBER GROUP
”Martin is exceptionally accurate in everything that he says and does, I cannot find fault with his advice and I trust him absolutely in his judgement.ANDREW THOMPSON FCACHARTERED ACCOUNTANT, KENILWORTH ASSOCIATES
”Robert has managed to deal with many complex issues and given very high levels of customer service - first-class service all the way.ANDY MCCLINTOCKINVESTMENT DIRECTOR, THE UK MANUFACTURING ACCELERATOR
”Prior to meeting Martin Wilcocks, I had very little faith in financial advisers due to previous experiences. Martin is honest and transparent and he has restored my faith in financial advisers.MARK FOSTERMANAGING PARTNER, FOSTERS LAWYERS
”In the end, my mum’s investments weren’t worth enough for it to make any sense to Rob’s business but, being the generous person he is, he offered to do the necessary admin for free. It saved us an enormous amount of trouble. He then put us in touch with another advisor who (again at no charge) saved us a fortune when my mum passed away earlier this year. Mary Wilcocks went out of her way to meet my sister to pass on files and paperwork, again at no cost. I only started talking to Rob about my own finances relatively recently. I have moved my pensions under his advice and feel in very safe hands. My husband and I are now going through a longer-term financial planning exercise with Rob. Unlike me, my husband had never met Rob, and he’s an economist and an academic but he immediately recognised that Rob knows his stuff. I will happily sing his praises. He’s been helping me for about two years now. He is incredibly knowledgeable and helpful and very generous with his time and advice.ANTOINETTE OGLETHORPEOWNER, ANTOINETTE OGLETHORPE LTD
”We insured our shareholdings, and through a trust it allows the four of us to buy back each other’s shares on death, or illness, which is very important for the company to keep control, but also for our families, who receive the value of each shareholding as a lump sum.STEVE DUNNMANAGING DIRECTOR, ASPEN LTD
”His advice has been excellent and he is always there for us if we ever need him.PHIL O’NEILLWIRRAL
”Martin arranged the finance I needed to buy the white lion pub - the last free house on the wirral. It had always been in my plan but due to banks not funding pubs I was stuck and Martin sorted it.ANDY COCKRAMPROUD OWNER, THE WHITE LION
”I was looking for a more personalised advice service. I felt like I was just another number to my last adviser. I was initially hesitant about moving from a very well established and big investment firm to Martin’s smaller family business, and I set out my concerns in a note to him. He has delivered on both a professional and personal relationship level, and from our discussions and meetings, I expected nothing less from him. I‘d had a few bad experiences before meeting Martin but what has become evident is he runs a very professional family team with high standards and having made the move over I feel the right decision was definitely made. We look forward to having a very long and successful relationship.ANDY PERRYDIRECTOR, COUNTERLINE LTD
”Every client we have passed to Martin has been very happy. It’s not easy to find a good financial adviser and I think Martin has proved time and again he is one of the good guys.BEN EDWARDSASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, AFFORD BOND ACCOUNTANTS
”Martin gave me sound and simple investment advice that made sense and within my financial plan we have also worked out when I can retire and buy my sailing boat.STEPHEN LACEYLOUGHBOROUGH
”Martin is a breath of fresh air, explains things properly and his advice has been first class.ROSS BAIGENTFOUNDER & DIRECTOR, CATACLEAN GLOBAL LTD