I’m originally from Scotland, but I’ve been working abroad for a number of years and now live in Italy. I had all my finances with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) but I needed help with a tax return and I was referred to AAB Wealth by a friend.

I’ve had lots of different people give me advice over the years – some good, some bad and so I chose carefully. Although I had a really good relationship with RBC, I hadn’t ‘looked them in the eye’ and that’s very important to me.

I spoke to AAB a few times and instantly felt comfortable with them. Although they are a different generation to me, they understand me and have a good grasp of where I want to be. Because they’re a slightly younger team you know they’re going to be up-to-the minute with the latest rules and can suggest things you haven’t considered.

Taking early retirement

I’d worked as a mechanical engineer all round the world and as such hadn’t spent much time with my wife. I was offered early retirement and it took me about 40 minutes to decide to take it! I was only 52 at the time, and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

I’m not mega rich, but after AAB and myself did the sums it was clear I’d got enough to see my wife and I through, and what’s more important? Do you need £100m in the bank or do you need enough? Enough is the key word.

I transferred all my investments to AAB and have never looked back.

Trust and reliability

I have formal meetings with Andy once a year, which is a great chance to chat. I’ve spent lots of time getting to know him, and we get on really well. I didn’t realise how important this trusted relationship would be until recently though.

In May this year, my wife Dina was diagnosed with a tumour in her uterus. We were told there was a chance she’d need an operation and that it would cost £30k. I phoned Andy and he didn’t need to convince me. What’s the point of saving £30k and no one to share the rest of our portfolio with? However, I still needed reassurance. He gave me that instantly; he said “James, just look at it as a percentage of your portfolio.” It was the wee push I needed.

The next issue was accessing that money; I needed it by the end of the week but normally it would take at least 10 days to have access to that amount. I didn’t want Andy to cut any corners or get into trouble, but he was able to organise it all smoothly his end, and made it available instantly.

Unfortunately it wasn’t as simple as Dina having an operation; she’s now undergoing chemotherapy and we’re taking things day by day. But the main thing is that I had that money when I needed it and we can still take trips through to Rome to get treatment.

So the message I want to get across is when you’ve got a rainy day, don’t hesitate to use the money. I’ve got an aunt who is 84 and needed a hip replacement five years ago. She can more than afford it but has been procrastinating since.

It’s the old saying, don’t be the richest person in graveyard. Use the money – that’s what it’s there for!

Peace of mind and reassurance

When it came to the £30k, I would have done it anyway, but I just needed that extra push, and reassurance that I was doing the right thing. That’s what great advice is all about; having someone there who can take that pressure and responsibility away. But also, action things for you too.

I know this because I recently had to deal with a provider myself and spent 15 hours on the phone trying to manage it. Despite requesting in writing to deal direct with myself, they refused and insisted on speaking first with Dina which caused unnecessary stress.

This is why we so appreciated that it was just one phone call to Andy and a follow-up email and it happened immediately. It’s that quality of service that’s so valuable when you really need it.

Taking the time to build relationships is, in my opinion, well worth the time, and often overlooked in this digital age.