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When should you get financial advice?

Ed Bowsher
by Lovemoney Staff Ed Bowsher on 19 November 2012  |  Comments 22 comments

Most people could probably benefit from seeing a financial adviser, but when are the best times in your life to see one?

When should you get financial advice?

Last week I wrote an article about how the regulations for the financial advice industry are changing. Advisers are going to have to be more transparent about their charges and they’re also going to have pass more exams.

I think these changes are good news. I also think that most people would benefit from visiting an adviser at some point. But you may still be wondering when you should make your first visit. Immediately? In ten years? Every year?

Life events

One answer is to say that you should visit an adviser whenever there’s a major change in your life. These are the most commonly cited changes:

- Marriage

- Having children

- Buying your first property

- Death of a partner

- Approaching retirement

For example, if you’re about to have your first child, you might want to get advice on how to save for your child’s future. Your adviser could help you pick the best Junior ISA.

Your adviser might also help you find the money to pay for the extra costs associated with children. He could help you budget and possibly cut your tax bill.

Similarly, if you’re approaching retirement, your adviser could help you figure out how much income you’re likely to get when you stop working. If you discover that your income will be lower than you expected, you might decide to delay your retirement or at least go part-time rather than stop work completely.

And if you’ve been saving into a pension pot as you work, you may need help to get the biggest possible income from that pot, either by buying a top-paying annuity or choosing an alternative strategy.

Particular product

Moving away from life events, another approach is to visit an adviser when you realise you want a specific product.

So maybe you’ve read an article on Lovemoney about life insurance and you realise that you need to buy some protection. You could then visit an adviser who could direct you to the best product for you and your circumstances.

Get the big picture

Asking for advice when you want to buy a specific product isn’t a bad idea, and you can see two advisers endorse this approach in our video: Should you go to a financial adviser?

But personally I think the best approach is to go and have a full financial check-up with an adviser. You can really do this at any stage in your adult life and I think it would benefit most people.

The starting point is to think about the goals you have for the rest of your life. Here are some questions you could consider:

- Do you have children/do you want to have children? How much financial support do you want to give those children?

- At what age do you want to retire? How much income would you like to have in retirement? What do you want to do in your old age – travel the world?

- What are your career aspirations? Would you like to set up your own business? Or maybe go back into education?

Once you’ve worked out your non-financial goals, an adviser can help you figure out how much achieving these goals would cost and whether they’re realistic for you.

Then you and your adviser can review your current financial situation and look at any insurance policies and investments that you may have.

At that point you and your adviser can draw up a financial plan for you. This could include budgeting targets you need to achieve on the way to your overarching lifetime goals.

If you’re not retired yet, your plan will at least partly focus on building wealth for your retirement.

On top of that, the plan may also include provision for ‘protection’ or insurance. That could include life insurance.

The beauty of drawing up a plan is that you will then link your financial goals to the goals for the rest of your life.

Danger

If you make financial decisions in isolation – without looking at your ‘big picture’ – there’s a danger that you’ll make mistakes.

For example, let’s say you’ve made six investments into unit trusts in the last ten years.

All of these investments might make sense on their own, but if you put them altogether, you might find you were taking on too much risk. That risk could be compounded if your pension was also invested in similar high-risk assets.

Do it yourself

Now I know many Lovemoney readers will say that they don’t need to go to an adviser. And that’s fair enough – if you’re willing to make the effort and do some research, there’s a good chance you’ll make good financial decisions. Especially if you read Lovemoney!

What’s more, I don’t dispute that some advisers have given rotten advice to their clients in the past.

That said, I do think a DIY approach brings its own risks. You might pick some investment funds that perform well, but you might miss out on some tax-saving opportunities.

Or you might buy life insurance that will protect your dependents if you die, but miss out on insurance that could give you an income if you became ill.

So for me, it makes sense to see an adviser and get him/her to look at your ‘big picture.’ Then you’ll be more likely to make the most of your money and the most of your life.

More on advisers and financial planning:

Ten questions you should ask a financial planner

Should you go to a financial adviser?

How to find the best adviser

Bureaucrats get it right for once!

Why you must draw up a financial plan

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Comments (22)

  • Mike10613
    Love rating 626
    Mike10613 said

    We live in a country full of consultants and advisers, even the consultants have consultants and the advisers have advisers and they all need regulators. All this complication has led to a system that no one seems to understand. That has led to an industrial nation becoming a nation of people sitting behind desks thinking they know best. They tell us to take out insurance, credit cards and compare the bleeding market. They get the big bucks and the bonuses. We get screwed with high interest rates and hidden charges. We see what little savings we have, disappear when the Bank of England turns on the money making machine for the rich, who can never get enough.

    I'll take my own counsel...

    Report on 20 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  5 loves
  • BobbyW
    Love rating 10
    BobbyW said

    Apart from moan the hind legs off a donkey, what do you do for a living Mike?

    Report on 21 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • fenemore
    Love rating 251
    fenemore said

    I am sorry Ed, but I have to agree with Mike10613 - the "advice" industry is now completely out of hand, borne out of the loss of manufacturing in this country. There is an old saying - "Those who can, do - those who can't, teach!".

    The delusion under which we are all supposed to live, is that "they" (the advisers), know better than "us". It has been my experience that in fact the opposite is the case, and this especially applies to the financial services industry.

    I carry a reasonable amount in a simple instant-access savings account with my bank. This has resulted in a number of phone calls from them "advising" me that my savings could do much better if I invested it in one of their "funds". My response is this... "so you want me to invest in a fund from which YOU will receive an initial commission plus an annual percentage of the pot no matter how badly it does? If it makes a profit we both gain, but if it doesn't, just how is the bank losing?"

    That is usually enough to shut them up.

    I completely fail to see the need for financial advisers, independent or otherwise. All the information you need in order to make a sensible decision is out there in the public domain. You do not need to be an expert - all of it is quite simple for the average person. Do your own research - understand what it is you are getting into. I am not saying that you wont make mistakes, but they will be no worse than an "adviser's" and you wont have paid someone for it!

    Report on 21 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • jthain
    Love rating 2
    jthain said

    In my personal experience they are a bunch lying thieving ********.

    Report on 21 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • BobbyW
    Love rating 10
    BobbyW said

    Yes fenemore you are right, all the qualifications that all financial advisers have are pointless and a waste of time. You can do it yourself - Not to belittle your "reasonable amount" in your savings account but who cares?

    When it comes to protecting your familys financial future, when it somes to ensuring you get the most appropriate mortgage deal (not only based on rate head line hunting but based on being accepted in the current situation for anyopne other than A1 clients with stacks of income and equity/deposit), when it comes to investing for your future retiring, when it comes to investing this pot for an income for the rest of your life. If you are well enough equipped to adequately arrange all this yourself good on you, but you are in the minority.

    Good luck Fenemore, I am sure all the qualifications you have will stand you in good stead to do all of this yourself, and if you make a mistake again who cares? You cant complain about mis-advising yourself can you?

    If you dont want to take advice then dont, if you dont care about properly protecting the things that are important to you then why the hell should anyone else. Just because you dont need advice dont tar everyone with the same brush. Most people would benefit from good solid ongoing financial advice.... Not you..... Oh no you are too good for all that rubbish.

    Taking a guess here - you are a retired teacher. BING!!!!! Probably primary school.

    Report on 21 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • RMN05
    Love rating 15
    RMN05 said

    "Most people would benefit from good solid financial advice" An admirable statement, but these postings are related to an article about our country's financial adviser "industry", therefore a massive contradiction bedevils those 2 concepts.

    Does our gravy train financial adviser industry still not recognise the sentiments, that by the time their fees and management costs are filched from people's funds, their so called investments/pensions or whatever other financial instrument is recommended net little more than if moneys had been placed in prudent well chosen deposit based accounts.

    I prefer to live with moderate expectations, and not have to cope with the choking resentment from taking the "financial advice" that succours these charlatans.

    Report on 21 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • MK22
    Love rating 169
    MK22 said

    Many moons ago I was in a position where every year we listened to the great and good of the financial industry telling us their expectations for the 12 months ahead. Every year when their expectations were not met, we asked them to explain the reasons why. Never once did we get an answer. And thereby hangs the problem. It is not hidden fees, it is not even their competence, it is the fact they NEVER put their money where their mouths are. The regulation that is actually needed is that when you act on financial advice and you lose out, the person who gave you that advice compensates you. It would sure concentrate the minds of the advisers!

    Report on 21 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • jamiecfc1
    Love rating 42
    jamiecfc1 said

    As an accountant who has go through the pain of regulation through my institute every year it makes me cringe every time I hear of people taking advice from so called "Financial Advisors", yet have never asked them what their qualifications are to be offering them the advice. In my experience (other than the odd exception) FA's are on a same par as estate agents, interesting also to note though that Lloyds TSB have now joined just about every other bank in not offering a financial advisory service (and have "made redundant" all of their FA's..) Maybe they know something we don't?

    Report on 22 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • fenemore
    Love rating 251
    fenemore said

    BobbyW - not even close - retired software engineer.

    I don't believe I am in the "minority" as you put it. All the miss-selling over the past few years has made a lot of people very nervous and confidence in "advice" is at an all time low. Banks seeking out deposit account holders in order to "help" them achieve higher returns borders on the unethical - for it is not ME they are trying to help, but themselves.

    Report on 22 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • BobbyW
    Love rating 10
    BobbyW said

    Excuse me...... From an Accountant? You are the biggest blind robbers out there, never heard of a calculator??

    What benefit do you provide that a simple tax calculating spreadsheet could not? Talking about charging commissions what about your fees (as an industry whole)? Shocking.

    Financial advice is more than pensions/investments, its about protection, inheritence tax planning, buying your first family home, making sure if you are ill you still receive an income, making sure if you die your family are not left in financial ruins, making sure if you are seriously ill your mortgage is paid in full.

    Yes it is about saving for the future both in terms of rainy day emergency funds as well as long term pensions but you guys are so blind you cant see the woods for the trees.

    @ Fenemore - Get a grip on reality, misseling of what? PPI? - You tell me what proportion of claims have been polices done though IFAs? Practically negligble. Why? Because these were sold by the unqualified sales/target driven bank/electrical goods representative not by qualified FA's. YES electrical goods representative - The 16 year old part timer that works on a Sat/Sun to subsidise their drinking nights with their buddies - With no qualifications to give any advice on LIFE never mind finances.

    Open your eyes people if you fail to prepare then prepare to fail - That is in every aread of your life NONE MORE SO THAN IN A FINANCIAL SENSE.

    I could not care if YOU dont want to prepare for the future but dont you dare criticise the people who do, you have obviously ALL had a bad financial experience with an IFA/FA that has cost you thousands of pounds of your own hard earned cash? Whats that No you havent? Could have fooled me with all your moaning..............

    Report on 22 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • rorya
    Love rating 0
    rorya said

    I really want to believe that IFAs can help me.

    However, I have met with several over the years. I have never yet made a profit on any product they have recommended. Each one has been a loss.

    I have found most of them to be arrogant with a "know all" attitude. I give them the whole picture which they don't want to hear. They are only looking at 5 years ahead. And the latest one said he could not help me at all as I was looking for a new job. So he could not even help me with where to place an inheritance sum bequeathed to children. So I went and researched the savings accounts available and placed the money. What was I supposed to do - wait until I got a new job and just leave the funds in my current account earning nothing.

    I would love to meet a good IFA. I need to do some pension planning and sort out some more savings; but the people I have met so far give IFAs a bad name.

    Report on 24 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • BobbyW
    Love rating 10
    BobbyW said

    @ Rorya, the best way would be to ask your friends and family. If they have had a good experience they will be sure to recommend them to their IFA. I always find referals are the best way as the original client has been happy with the service their is less risk of getting someone who is useless :-)

    Report on 26 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Meduza78
    Love rating 18
    Meduza78 said

    based on what i read in the first three posts, i remembered: the country that let their produce move to asia relies on services. financial advisers provide such services, too. it is a lie that a country can thrive only on services if it means that money are not coming in from abroad, as it is in holiday destinations (which britain clearly is NOT). instead people move less and less money around within the country (as the money is sent elsewhere) and those people get more and more miserable. the borrowing bubble has started to feel its end and again: the same poor people feel the consequences. unless the advice is free or only for a symbolic fee, i am not willing to take any. on the other hand: what quality the advice can be if it is free?

    i might see an adviser regarding my retirement, but after all, i will listen to my gut whether i will follow the advice or not.

    Report on 28 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • kstein
    Love rating 5
    kstein said

    Bobby,

    You are clearly a Financial Advisor otherwise you wouldn't be having your rant so let me start with one comment at a time:

    - Excuse me...... From an Accountant? You are the biggest blind robbers out there, never heard of a calculator??

    - Does this calculator do all the calcs on its own specific to the minefield that is the UK's tax system? I guess it can also calculate all my share dealings (Tried it and it failed - funnily enough even the accountants spreadsheet got it wrong - Wish we had your magic calculator) corporation tax, VAT Returns, financial audits etc etc etc. These guys provide a more legitimate service than you "financial advisors" ever will

    What benefit do you provide that a simple tax calculating spreadsheet could not? Talking about charging commissions what about your fees (as an industry whole)? Shocking

    - See Above - UK Tax system far from "simple"

    Financial advice is more than pensions/investments, its about protection, inheritance tax planning, buying your first family home, making sure if you are ill you still receive an income, making sure if you die your family are not left in financial ruins, making sure if you are seriously ill your mortgage is paid in full. Yes it is about saving for the future both in terms of rainy day emergency funds as well as long term pensions but you guys are so blind you cant see the woods for the trees.

    - To be honest you could be right but as your attitude is showing on here Financial Advisors are nothing more than people who harass others and cant take no as answer. Infact your poor spelling indicates you have written this quickly and with a slight rage however All of the above can be found easily on the internet and as you say below speaking to your more experienced family members who will kindly enlighten you what protection etc you need in life and for free. They have done it, seen it, got the T-shirt. A 25 year old boy trying to push income protection onto you probably doesn't even know what he's selling

    @ Fenemore - Get a grip on reality, miss-sellng of what? PPI? - You tell me what proportion of claims have been polices done though IFAs? Practically negligible. Why? Because these were sold by the unqualified sales/target driven bank/electrical goods representative not by qualified FA's. YES electrical goods representative - The 16 year old part timer that works on a Sat/Sun to subsidise their drinking nights with their buddies - With no qualifications to give any advice on LIFE never mind finances.

    If a Financial Advisor was in the position to sell these they would. Infact they probably did and do when selling such stuff like income protection etc

    Open your eyes people if you fail to prepare then prepare to fail - That is in every area of your life NONE MORE SO THAN IN A FINANCIAL SENSE.

    I could not care if YOU don't want to prepare for the future but don't you dare criticise the people who do, you have obviously ALL had a bad financial experience with an IFA/FA that has cost you thousands of pounds of your own hard earned cash? Whats that No you haven't? Could have fooled me with all your moaning..............

    - Are you actually trying to claim that "financial advisors" care about other peoples money? I had a financial advisor once who made me £400 over 4 years on the stock market. I binned him. Within 2 years ive returned more than 200% from the markets doing it myself. I must be more qualified than him but just out of interest what qualifications does a "financial advisor" have exactly? No need to answer that as I found the answer on google (ironic isn't it?) - The qualifications are nothing more than part time courses probably run from a crappy little college somewhere

    If anyone is interested and feel like having a laugh:

    http://www.unbiased.co.uk/ifa-qualifications

    Report on 29 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • PoohBah
    Love rating 23
    PoohBah said

    Whatever the merits or otherwise of consulting an IFA, the fact that the page borders of this article are (at the time of writing) filled with exhortations to obtain financial advice by visiting the site of a well-known insurance company suggests to me that Lovemoney are anything but a disinterested party, and that this article amounts to a shameless plug for one of its advertisers.

    Report on 29 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Arblaster
    Love rating 43
    Arblaster said

    Whatever the merits or otherwise of consulting an IFA, the fact that the page borders of this article are (at the time of writing) filled with exhortations to obtain financial advice by visiting the site of a well-known insurance company suggests to me that Lovemoney are anything but a disinterested party, and that this article amounts to a shameless plug for one of its advertisers.

    I take it you mean Aviva.

    That's OK. You get the best insurance and the best advice from them They're very good.

    Report on 29 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • BobbyW
    Love rating 10
    BobbyW said

    @kstein - Confused as to why that makes you laugh but hey-ho each to their own if that tickles your fancy I suggest that you get out a little more.

    Maybe its that you dont understand the level of qualifications? I suggest you research ..... maybe a little more research than you carried out before making your comments or on the "IFA" that served you so well earning you £400 in 2 years... By the way what research did you do on them? None? Well knock me down with a feather, what did you use a phonebook and eeny meeny miney mo????? If you go out for a nice meal and its rubbish (like your research) do you go back? No, so why stick with a useless financial adviser?

    Like I said, Investment is only a part of a Financial Advisers role but you seem to dwell on it (like I do with your pitiful research)

    IFA's WERE in a position to sell PPI, and DID sell PPI!!!!!!! My comment was to show that there have been a small amount of these "mis-sold" as they were sold with advice.... My advice to you is to do your research before you comment on something you know little or nothing about - and I dont mean the fact that you were unaware of whether IFAs did or didnt sell it.

    Think your "25 year old boy trying to push income protection" is completely irelevant and dont see where that came from. I never claimed that IFA's care about other peoples money, as an adviser I am interested in a clients financial well being. Is that the same as other advisors? I am not in a position to speak for others in the same way you can not speak for me.

    Would I do my job for nothing? No. But there are not many people who would. I can go to sleep at night knowing I have done my utmost for my clients and am safe in the knowledge that EVERYTHING I do is in their best interests. My job is primarily around protection in this day and age, and while the readers of this page are likely to be more financially astute than most, there are a lot of people who appreciate the job we do, they obvioulsy dont have the time nor inclination, unlike you, to research the internet for 25 year old boys - I assume thats what you normally research as you certainly havent researched anything else you mentioned.

    Report on 04 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • LastChip
    Love rating 92
    LastChip said

    Well, poor BobbyW!

    Hit a raw nerve have we?

    The truth is, anyone with common sense and more so than ever, with Internet access, can gain enough information to make equally educated decisions about their finances.

    Years ago, I invested in a financial course, sent to me each month for about two years. It was a fee based subscription, contained absolutely no advertisements and was written by top people in their respective fields at that time. During that period, it covered everything from basic savings to sophisticated investments that few would even have heard of. That small investment has paid off handsomely. For example, the reason this post is so late in the discussion, is I've just returned from a couple of weeks winter sun in the Caribbean, so you can use your own judgement as to whether I succeeded in my aims or not. Semi-retired by 55, I was happy to do a little part-time work for fun and to stop boredom. But I was at liberty at any time to tell my employers to take a hike if they did anything I didn't like. At that point in time, I'd never consulted an IFA. The only time I'd come into contact with insurance salesmen (years ago), had resulted in diabolical products with huge commissions that I ended up paying for.

    So Financial Advisers are certainly not essential to anyone's well-being. Just a desire to take control of your finances and use a common sense approach to investment.

    Now I'm going to reverse the discussion. About a year ago, when I decided I wanted to actually fully retire, owing to the diversity of my investments, my final choices on a pension strategy was wide, complicated and varied. I was the first to recognise, I did not have sufficient current expertise to come to a solid decision about how I was going to approach that decision, so I pondered about how to resolve the issue. The answer I arrived at (after significant research, as you guys have a stinking reputation), was to consult a Chartered Financial Planner, which you should recognise as being at the top of your profession.

    This guy is not a 25 year old, but a very mature gentleman, who has already moved to a fee based service, well ahead of the regulations, and which was one of the prerequisites I was looking for. He is unquestionably expensive, but if you want the best you have to be prepared to pay for it.

    I had a free meeting with him and we weighed each other up, with me being very blunt about what I required and us jointly deciding whether we could work together. I warned him about any attempt to con me. I wasn't suggesting he would or would try, but better to, lay the ground rules of engagement. The result of that meeting was positive. He respected my bluntness, and I got a good feeling about him after asking some probing questions, he actually knowing what he was talking about.

    You will also know it is a requirement an IFA does an investigation into his/her clients financial situation. It was in depth and at the end of it, he asked me if I would be happy for him to classify me as having an above average knowledge of finance. I agreed. His passing comments were and I quote; "you haven't put a foot wrong have you".

    So lets get this into perspective. You don't need an IFA to tell you the best ISA to invest in, or any other straight forward basic investment. Simple research on the Internet will tell you a lot more than most IFA's. Neither do you need an IFA for anything else (except as described below), provided you are happy to research your investments properly. Tip to anyone reading this, managing risk and diversification are your best friends.

    You may need an IFA for specific products, that are not available directly to retail clients, or if like me, you have a specific purpose in mind.

    What you guys don't like, is it reduces your potential client base considerably. IFA's are two a penny and you're going to have to be very good to survive. Chartered Financial Planers at the moment, are a rare commodity and can charge good money for their services. That's the bottom line.

    Report on 06 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • BobbyW
    Love rating 10
    BobbyW said

    Oh what a blinkered world we live in. I love the way people make assumptions. Thanks for your input lastchip, you can all go back to your hating financial servies again. Who needs "crappy little colleges" when you can have study material posted to you eh Einstein?.... sorry meant Kstein?

    I am glad you spent your leisure timeover a period of (wasted) hours to then go back to someone who gives financial advice, what was the point of that?

    I would not spend 2 years of my life learning plumbing via open university to fix my shower I would pay some one to do it and spend the time with my family or (if applicable!!!!!) friends.

    Each to their own in terms of how you spend your time, but well done on retiring early... Now you have all this spare time maybe you could learn something else of (limited) use for the future, we are all going to die so maybe they do courses on funeral directing?

    Report on 10 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • LastChip
    Love rating 92
    LastChip said

    Oh dear oh dear BobbyW. You've missed the point completely.

    Self eduction is not to be despised, but to be encouraged. It is not me with the blinkered view, but your good self. With so much venom, you're getting side tracked with trying to defend your rather weak arguments.

    The time I spent on the course has paid for itself time and time again - that's why I no longer had to work from 55 (but chose to). Far from being wasted time, it created a strong background for sound financial decisions throughout the rest of my life to date and I expect providing my brain remains intact, will continue into the future.

    How on earth can that be time wasted?

    Even after all these years have passed, the course gave me sufficient knowledge, to know when I needed to pay an expert for advice. There's nothing wrong in my world in knowing and accepting your limitations - something that you can't seem to grasp.

    You truly are a sad person and I pity anyone coming to you for advice. With that sort obnoxious attitude and chip on your shoulder, you won't see the wood for the trees. You certainly haven't done yourself any favours here.

    Stand back and ask yourself, after my rant, who am I likely to attract as potential future clients?

    You really could write the answer on the back of a postage stamp.

    No need to do courses on Funeral Directing, the stock exchange has a rather nice stock called Dignity - DTY, but I doubt you've ever heard of them.

    Report on 11 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • BobbyW
    Love rating 10
    BobbyW said

    Oh Dear, I am not using Lovemoney to attract clients. Sick of people out there LIKE YOU belittling the people that are trying to do an honest job, you are just a smugbaws and I stick to my "if applicable" comment about (your lack of) friends because no one likes a Norman-know-it-all like you Nigel-No-Pals, so do me a favour take your condescending tones back to the Caribbean and gies piece.

    Report on 12 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • LastChip
    Love rating 92
    LastChip said

    BobbyW, that last post isn't even worthy of a reply. But I'll say this and it will be my last post on the subject.

    From your very first post in this thread, you were attacking people. You like to dish it out, but can't take any criticism, whether it's justified or not. In this world, there are various opinions, some of which you may agree with and some which you may not. But that doesn't make them invalid and if you actually stop and think about other points of view, just sometimes, they may be right.

    Report on 12 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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