Our money expert explores whether you might need a financial check-up.

Type the words ‘financial health check’ into Google and in less than one second the search engine will yield a staggering 556 million links to websites. Were you to spend just one minute on each, it would take 1,057 years to complete the exercise, assuming you spent every hour of every day browsing. This bizarre statistic emphasises how much information each of us can draw upon at the click of a mouse. But is it any good?

There’s a role for digital guidance, but sometimes most of us prefer to sit face-to-face with someone we can trust and explain what it is we’re trying to achieve, financially-speaking.

In fact, it’s worth considering whether you need a financial health check in the first place. Here’s a handful of reasons why – which will save you browsing the internet for the next millennia.

Lifestyle changes

Perhaps the most obvious point at which you may wish to drag out those old files comprising bank and investment statements, pension-related paraphernalia and details of alternative investments is when you’ve experienced a significant change in your life.

Whether you’ve recently married, moved house, started a family or undergone a major career change, it’s reasonable to suggest that a sweeping modification to your lifestyle warrants a corresponding examination of your saving and spending plans.

Beware of inflation

Occasionally, different aspects of your financial life may appear to be ticking along rather well, prompting you to believe there’s no need to start meddling with them. Indeed, you may feel that when you check your current account bank balance online and see it rising month by month, everything is good with the world.

However, a burgeoning cash balance sat in a low-interest current account invariably loses value thanks to the corrosive effects of inflation. Accordingly, you should consider keeping the balance relatively static in order to meet unexpected costs and transfer any surplus into your savings as frequently as possible.


Gone are the days when people stayed in the same job for life. Nowadays, by the time we reach middle age, most of us have had several employers, so it’s hardly surprising that a good proportion of folks lose track of their pensions and can be a little hazy when recalling how much is in each of them.

Around 10pc of people lose track of at least one of their pensions, so there is enormous merit in hunting through your paperwork to trace a forgotten pension via the UK’s pension tracing services.

Check correspondence

Junk mail is a pain, but not everything that drops through your letterbox or into your email inbox is necessarily rubbish.

In fact, it’s worth asking yourself why a provider of financial services would continue writing. Admittedly, mailshots initiated by banks and credit card companies are usually distributed to millions of addresses, but are they contacting you because you were once a customer? Does the bank write because you still have a savings account with them? If a credit card company continues to send mail, is it because you haven’t used their card for a while? Before you dump the letters, it’s worth checking them as their content could be more significant than you imagine.

Changes beyond your control

Political changes can have an impact on our finances and considering your response in advance is much easier than reacting after they’ve already taken place.

Alterations to the financial landscape (and by extension, to your personal finances) can also occur following an unexpected interest rate rise, a change in tax legislation, or further increases in the state pension age.

The medical-style analogies beloved by banks and insurance companies may be excessive, but their underlying message should not be ignored. Many of us attend to our physical wellbeing as we accumulate a few more grey hairs and our financial affairs deserve similar consideration.

For more financial advice, check out Peter Sharkey’s regular blog, The Week In Numbers.

This column is for general information only and cannot be relied on as financial advice for individuals. Consult your professional adviser.