Inspired Money

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FAQ

What writing services are available?

What about other writers and specialists?

What about corporate work?

What are Nic’s own credentials as a writer and editor?

Yes, but is he really any good?

What about his financial knowledge?

Tell me about media training

What kind of courses do you offer?

What about financial coaching?

Can money coaching really change my bad financial habits?

What about consultancy work?

What makes Inspired Money’s consultancy services special?

Isn’t there an inherent contradiction between journalism and corporate work?

But doesn’t corporate work put the journalist at risk of being “bought off”?

Where is Inspired Money headed?

Are you planning to upgrade Inspired Money?

What if people need independent financial advice or want to buy a pension?

Will Inspired Money offer financial advice further down the line?

Is there life outside personal finance?

Any more questions?

 

 

 

 

What writing services are available?

Any. In the past 15 years, Nic Cicutti has covered a wide variety of subjects, from financial issues such as pensions mis-selling and the collapse of Barings Bank, to the Staffordshire social services “pin-down” scandal, crime and IRA bombings. Writing styles have ranged from broadsheet to tabloid.

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What about other writers and specialists?

Nic has numerous contacts in personal finance journalism. He can identify the most appropriate author, designer and sub-editor or other technical specialists, commission and edit copy, offering a complete turnkey operation for any publication or website.

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What about corporate work?

Recent writing by Nic and colleagues he commissions includes company brochures, pamphlets and guides, email mailings, website content and newsletters. Companies they have worked for include many of the UK’s top life insurers, fund management firms, financial advice firms, banks and building societies.

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What are Nic’s own credentials as a writer and editor?

Nic has spent almost 10 years working for national newspapers. He was personal finance editor at The Independent and editor of FTyourmoney, the Financial Times personal finance website, while also writing for the paper itself.

He still writes for the FT and also for the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Esquire magazine and many other financial titles.

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Yes, but is he really any good?

Over the years, Nic has won a wide range of journalism awards for his personal finance writing and editing, the most recent of which is Bradford & Bingley’s prestigious Scoop of the Year in November 2002.

FTyourmoney won Personal Finance Website of the Year award for two years running, in 2002 and 2001.

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What about his financial knowledge?

Many years of writing about personal finance, researching hundreds of issues in depth, explaining them to readers in simple language – and then returning to the subject again and again - tends to leave an indelible impression on most good journalists.

Hardly surprisingly, Nic passed Parts 1 and 2 of the Financial Planning Certificate, the three-part exam for independent financial advisers, at his first attempt in 2002.

It has to be said, the tests were not hugely rigorous – not that it stopped a few would-be advisers in his group failing them. When he finds the time he’ll try to bag Part 3 and, in time, take things further.

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Tell me about media training

What proper media training can do is to set out some guidelines, give those new to the press greater awareness and experience, refresh the knowledge of those who already deal with the media, weed out bad habits and provide insights into how journalism works.

Most skills can be taught, including writing press releases, appearing in front of a camera or handling a press conference.

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What kind of courses do you offer?

There is no one single way to deal with journalists and their inquiries. Each depends on a wide range of factors, including the subject matter, the journalist and the company itself.

All training is personalised and based on the specific needs of the organisation that requires it. Courses can run between half a day and three days, though the latter would clearly be for complete novices and/or dunderheads.

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What about financial coaching?

Most of us tend to have a very uneasy relationship with money. Often, spending money becomes a substitute for other things missing in our lives.

Some of us never learned to budget as well as we might, or are unaware that there are better ways of achieving the same financial ends with less effort and expense.

At times, we don’t have proper strategies in place to help us invest, pay off a mortgage or plan for our retirement. We have the wrong credit cards, loans and bank accounts.

Money coaching can help in all these areas. All it needs is a combination of honesty and the willingness to look at our finances differently.

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Can money coaching really change my bad financial habits?

No. Self-motivation and practice is what changes people’s financial habits. Outside coaching can help. But you have to do it for yourself.

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What about consultancy work?

Our consultancy services operate at various levels.

On the editorial side, they can range from simple editing tasks, online navigation and “look-and-feel” to more complicated matters such as magazine or website launches and re-designs.

We also help financial institutions to improve the services they offer to consumers, whether in relation to products, service delivery or any other areas where they interact with their customers.

Where necessary, additional expert advice can be brought in to provide further layers of skill and knowledge.

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What makes Inspired Money’s consultancy services special?

One doesn’t spend a decade reading reams of documents, talking to thousands of consumers, financial advisers, company executives, Government sources and assorted hangers-on every year without forming a sophisticated consumer-focussed view of what is going on in personal finance.

That knowledge and insight is essential for a writer. It is also a resource for anyone else who wants a deeper understanding of consumer issues, of why people act as they do, what they want and what they hate about personal finance.

That expertise can help companies deliver a better service and to improve the products they offer their clients.

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Isn’t there an inherent contradiction between journalism and corporate work?

A fair question. At times, as we’ve discussed above, it is genuinely possible to generate a win-win scenario for both consumers and an industry that is supposedly there to meet their needs – yet often fails.

At other times it is simply not possible: the interests of both sides (and there can be sides to this, regrettably) may be too far apart to be bridged by any pretence of goodwill.

If any conflict of interest could raise its head, we simply don’t accept the work, preferring to refer business elsewhere.

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But doesn’t corporate work put the journalist at risk of being “bought off”?

There is a danger of becoming “tainted”, of not wanting to do harm to an institution that only a month before may have offered the journalist a lucrative piece of work.

The only way round this undoubted dilemma is to be 10 times more vigilant. It means setting down rules about what you will and won’t do for a company, or the “hospitality” one accepts, to give an example.

There are people working as “pure” journalists who think nothing of leaping on a plane to exotic locations for spurious week-long “briefings” that could just as easily be carried out over the phone or at a company’s offices.

In Nic’s case, he has a justified reputation for hard, fearless journalism. His work is highly respected by his peers.

Anyone in the financial services industry will testify to the fact that regardless of who commissions Inspired Money they can expect no special favours.

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Where is Inspired Money headed?

Inspired Money tries to do a number of things. It outlines the various editorial and consultancy services on offer from us.

At the same time, it tries to provide regular commentary on events taking place in the financial services world, passing on information and tips to consumers.

For those who want to know more, it also offers a long list of other sites for visitors to go to where they can deepen their knowledge and understanding of personal finance. If you have found a helpful site, let us know and we will happily consider linking to it.

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Are you planning to upgrade Inspired Money?

We will be adding fresh content to the site as often as possible. Up to once a week would be nice. You can register for our updated bulletins elsewhere on this site or by going here(link to registration service).

In future, it may also be possible to offer additional services, to provide more guidance to consumers, helping them to make better financial choices.

That may mean allowing them to select and apply for various products, with appropriate help and tips on what to look out for – and on what to avoid.

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What if people need independent financial advice or want to buy a pension?

Inspired Money is not authorised to give independent financial advice or to recommend pensions, investment or other regulated products to consumers.

We can give “generic” guidance – the basic nuts and bolts stuff, what people should and shouldn’t be doing and why, what considerations they should take into account when planning their finances and so on.

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Will Inspired Money offer financial advice further down the line?

It is unlikely. In future we may, subject to resolving regulatory and other issues, be able to provide details of some of the top independent financial advice firms to go to in respect of various financial planning needs.

The aim here would not be to give out names or provide links on a one-size-fits-all basis but to match a financial need with an appropriate expert whom, on the basis of existing experience and further careful investigation, we trust and respect.

But all this some way away and we would welcome Inspired Money users’ thoughts on whether to take this further and what they would be looking for.

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Is there life outside personal finance?

It doesn’t feel like it sometimes! But seriously, in his spare time Nic is a scooter fanatic. He uses a vintage Lambretta to get around London and even further afield. When the thing actually works, it beats the congestion charge, if nothing else.

Nic attends scooter rallies in the UK and abroad, likes a drink or two and enjoys dancing (badly) at 60s Northern Soul allnighters. But no talk of parkas in his presence, please: mods and scooterists are two completely different life forms.

For his sins, Nic supports Ipswich Town Football Club, the nearly-but-not-quite Premiership team. He lives in hope and anticipation of better times ahead.

Finally, Nic likes walking and takes a couple of weeks off every year to burn off calories. He likes to take his long-haired collie, Sally, on his walks. But she’s not always as keen on the exercise.

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Any more questions?

If you have any more questions for Inspired Money, some of which you believe could usefully be featured on this page, email us at .

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