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An Act of Trust? My Cousin Rachel

An Act of Trust? My cousin Rachel

There’s a new reworking of Daphne Du Maurier’s 1951 story “My Cousin Rachel” that is currently in cinema’s. A romantic throw-back to a time when men wore britches and women had little to call their own, thank heaven we have moved on. This is perhaps a timely reworking of the story, visiting the issue of inherited wealth with a passing nod to the patronage of the landed gentry, whilst their labourers gather the proverbial scraps from under their table.

Philip Ashley (Sam Claflin) is an orphan, taken in by his Cornish, landowning bachelor cousin Ambrose. Sadly for Mr Ambrose, he becomes unwell and heads to Florence, where he is initially restored by the sun and charms of Rachel, who he elects to marry. His illness shortly returns, resulting in his mysterious death, leaving a widow and Philip to face the prospect of an early inheritance. Suspicious of foul play, due to letters from his dying cousin, Philip is determined to punish Rachel for what he believes she has done. “Whatever it cost my cousin in pain and suffering before he died I will return with full measure upon the woman that caused it.”

Under a Spell

As a somewhat naïve and hot-headed young man, he is mesmerized by his cousin’s widow when she arrives at the estate. All plans to punish are swiftly reversed and forgotten, because he “likes to look at Rachel”…. who is played rather brilliantly by Rachel Weisz.

I will not reveal any more of this thoroughly enjoyable tale, which will perhaps get you reflecting on whether women are viewed any differently today than they were then. In fact to say any more would not help your own reflections.

The thing about inheritance

However, I can say that the story is an example of why you need to have a Will and that it is reviewed regularly. Moreover (a word I use knowing the angst caused for my old French teacher, who swore it was redundant) it also displays some of the pitfalls of a Trust, or at least a Trust that reverts to a beneficiary who is only 25 and is unhelpfully naïve and besotted.

This is a common financial planning problem – at what age should someone inherit wealth? particularly a life-defining amount. For all the planning that can be done, this will inevitably boil down to how the Trust was established and who the Trustees are and to be blunt, how responsible the beneficiaries are.

In the story, Philip can rely on the steady hand of family friend and Trustee Nick Kendall, (Iain Glen) who whilst being a voice of reason, is also compromised by his hope that his daughter Louise, (Holliday Grainger) will marry Philip and thus be financially secure.  The Kendall’s suspicions are alert for conflicted reasons. Often selecting a Trustee can be a difficult task, the basics are that they must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind, and not held at her Majesty’s pleasure.

Selecting Your Trustees or Executors

Many clients will of course naturally wish to select family members or friends, there is nothing wrong with this, except that most families have at times, strained relations. Friends may change. The responsibility of being a Trustee or Executor is no small matter – just ask anyone that has been one (or is). This is why these important legal documents, which assure your beneficiaries of your provision, are reviewed regularly. In our post-modern society, people move around the world, not simply the county. Death at a distance (a fate that befell Ambrose) is rather more complex than that wedding you have been invited to abroad.  So when selecting Trustees, always use your head which may well conclude that those that share your surname are indeed the right people, but do think about this carefully.

Anyway, here is the trailer.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

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Beatriz at Dinner

Beatriz at Dinner

It’s the London Sundance Film Festival, Salma Hayek is in town with her new movie “Beatriz at Dinner”. The story revolves around Beatriz, a massage “healer” who works at a cancer centre in Santa Monica. Apparently she also does the ocassional home visit. One such client is Cathy, the wife of a very wealthy businessman Grant. Upon completing her massage, Beatriz cannot start her car, is unable to leave the lavish gated community and is invited to stay for dinner, which is a small “work-do” with Cathy and Grant.

The scene is set for polar opposites to break bread together. The guests are all fantastically wealthy and are celebrating another successful development project which will likely have an environmental impact, but make them lots of money. The king pin is Doug Strutt, something of a small parody of the current thug that is president of the US. A man who bullies his way to wealth and clearly sees amassing more and more as a “game”.

Bubbles that burst?

Naturally, Beatriz is an animal lover, who also happens to be a deeply traumatized individual who is unloved. The scene is set for a frank exchange of views and an expose on the gulf between the have’s and the have not’s, or the bubble of the one percent. However, this is a Hollywood movie, so the subject matter which may have tickled those involved with its prospects, fails to deliver anything of substance other than well-worn caricatures. I might suggest that whilst the idea seemed interesting at the time, perhaps it fails because the story is a gnats wing from life in Beverly Hills.

In the Q&A session, Salma Hayek didn’t help matters either with her ramblings about purity and frankly failing to grasp the pain of character she plays. Perhaps because she is the daughter of hugely wealthy Mexicans and has married a French billionaire, that she has far more in common with Cathy and Grant than she may care to see.

Eyes to See

In reality, it is Grant and Cathy that are more representative of the liberal elite. It is they that are confused about friendship and relationship. Whilst having all of life’s finery, they fail to see their own hypocrisy and ignore the damage done to accumulate. Of course there is a degree to which most of us are like this. It is easier to ignore the exploitation of which we are both benefactors and victims. Indeed the neurosis of buying fairly traded anything is one of many grey lines that we navigate on a daily or weekly basis and with our largely comfortable lives we can afford not to be affronted. Whether that’s the fruit and veg or the “made in somewhere without” of our garments.

Finding Your Number

From time to time, I do wonder if this is what people think a financial planner does – make you rich. Whilst I am obviously not anti-money (I hope that is rather obvious) there is a point, which is called “enough”. Most do not know where this is – as it is undoubtedly a very individual answer. All good financial planners help reveal your “number” what you need to do all that you have affirmed to be your wishes and intentions. Yes with plenty of assumptions, slack for margin of error and disasters. This is a world of difference from Doug Strutt, who by failing to identify what he values, he constantly seeks unfulfilling highs which take him further and further away from a connected life. He takes life as way of finding it. His walls become higher and higher in every sense.

Choices

Money has the power to liberate and bring choice, how it is made brings many challenges in our global economy. However we possess choices too – whether to carefully consider at what we want from life or to simply get caught up being the next king of the hill. The uncomfortable truth is that our choices impact others. Yes we all need money but from that assertion springs a lot of questions.

Here’s the trailer.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

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The UK General Election

The UK General Election

Over the long run, the market has provided substantial returns regardless of who lives at Number 10. This is not a piece that I wrote, but it is worth sharing as it makes a very useful point. Think and act long term.

Next month’s snap election is the first national vote in the UK since the EU referendum. While the election’s outcome and overall impact are unknown, there is no shortage of speculation about how the election will impact the stock market. Below, we explain why investors would be well-served avoiding the temptation to make significant changes to a long-term investment plan based upon these sorts of predictions.

Here’s a chart to consider – Growth of £1 invested into the Dimensional UK Market Index between January 1956 – December 2016…. some 60 years, which is rather like investing at 30 and living until 90.

Note smallprint:

For illustrative purposes only. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Index is not available for direct investment, therefore, their performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of an actual fund. Dimensional indices use CRSP and Compustat data. See “Index Descriptions” in the appendix for descriptions of index data.

In plain English – this is really an example to demonstrate the wisdom of long-term thinking (and investing) rather than the constant short-term anxiety and to be blunt “mucking about”.

Investing is not meant to be gambling

Trying to outguess the market is often a losing game. Current market prices offer an up-to-the-minute snapshot of the aggregate expectations of market participants— including expectations about the outcome and impact of elections. While unanticipated future events (genuine surprises) may trigger price changes in the future, the nature of these events cannot be known by investors today. As a result, it is difficult, if not impossible, to systematically benefit from trying to identify mispriced securities. So it is unlikely that investors can gain an edge by attempting to predict what will happen to the stock market after a general election.

The focus of this election is Britain’s exit from the EU. But, as is often the case, predictions about the outcome and its effect on the stock market focus on which party will be “better for the market” over the long run. Exhibit 1 shows the growth of £ 1 invested in the UK market over more than 60 years and 12 prime ministers (from Anthony Eden to Theresa May).

Markets and 10 Downing Street

This exhibit does not suggest an obvious pattern of long-term stock market performance based upon which party has the majority in the Commons. What it shows is that over the long run, the market has provided substantial returns regardless of who lives at Number 10.

Equity markets can help investors grow their assets, but investing is a long-term endeavour. Trying to make investment decisions based upon the outcome of elections is unlikely to result in reliable excess returns for investors. At best, any positive outcome based on such a strategy will likely result from random luck. At worst, such a strategy can lead to costly mistakes. Accordingly, there is a strong case for investors to rely on patience and portfolio structure, rather than trying to outguess the market, in order to pursue investment returns.

INDEX DESCRIPTIONS

Dimensional UK Market Index: Compiled by Dimensional from Bloomberg securities data. Market capitalisation-weighted index of all securities in the United Kingdom. Exclusions: REITs and investment companies. The index has been retroactively calculated by Dimensional and did not exist prior to April 2008.

Investments involve risks. The investment return and principal value of an investment will fluctuate so that an investor’s shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost.

Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. There is no guarantee strategies will be successful. The information in this material is provided for background information only.  It does not constitute investment advice, recommendation or an offer of any services or products for sale and is not intended to provide a sufficient basis on which to make an investment decision.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

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Be Careful What You Wish For..

Be Careful What You Wish For…

I wonder if you have ever thought about how you would live life if you won the lottery. Probably most of us have given this a moment’s thought at some point. Our society seems to hang on the belief that money makes everything better. The Financial services industry be unrecognisable if there wasn’t an underlying message that money is the answer to pretty much every question. Of course, money can make life better and we certainly need it. As you will often hear me say, money provides choices.

Trust No.1

Enter Dave Dawes who won £101 million with the Euro Millions draw in 2011. A truly life altering amount of money that most of us will never experience – thankfully. Anyone suddenly gaining “wealth” is always going to struggle with the consequences, the most fundamental being – a suspicion of pretty much everyone. So, it follows that the worst thing you can do is agree to a press conference about your newfound fortune, which is of course what the lottery organiser wants a winner to do.

Forget Fair

Most people have money struggles, not necessarily lacking money, but most have some “baggage” and everyone has an opinion. It is obvious that life is not fair and money is merely one example of it. Yet increasingly there is a belief of entitlement. Anyone with a modicum of common sense understand that wealth is invariably not earned and never earned single-handedly. The best entrepreneurs freely acknowledge the help of others. Inherited wealth is not earned by the recipient. The entrepreneur may well be some sort of genius, but it’s also partly luck – with their genes, health, education, family, connections, geography, ethnicity and so on – sure, probably worked hard… but acknowledge the good fortune as well. It ought to be plainly obvious that being rich has nothing to do with being a “nice” or “good” person and frankly it doesn’t have anything to do with how hard you “work”. It is virtually irrelevant.

Hero or Villain?

Clearly we have some cultural confusion about money as well. Robin Hood, Dick Turpin, The Great Bank Robbery…. all thieves, yet for many are held in high regard as bringing about some sort of fairness by taking from “the rich”. As we enter the general election wars of empy words, expect more of the same. A more interesting point of view about our love of pirates is shared by Kester Brewin in his book “Mutiny” which is worth a read.

When someone wins money, various “journalists” will do their very best to work a story one of two ways – either the person is really “nice” and “deserves” it, or isn’t and doesn’t. I get the sense that Mr Dawes has experienced life in the media as the latter – and of course we simply do not know the truth. The revelation that Mr Dawes’ adult son Michael felt that his father should give him rather more after he spent all of the £1.6m already given to him, resulted in a court becoming involved. Michael clearly had expectations about his inheritance or support due to his father’s wealth. He quit his job and (it is reported) enjoyed a lifestyle costing around £25,000 a month. Mr Dawes felt that his son had received quite enough. The judge in the case recently ruled against Michael who had been pressing for lifetime financial support. The relationships are evidently in tatters. It turns out that Dave Dawes actually gave away a lot of money to family and friends, but the amount was quickly overlooked by the proportion in the case of his son. I wonder how differently things may have been if he had “only” won a million?

Yet, whilst this is news (the court ruling was yesterday). It is about as old a tale as there is. The prodigal son springs to mind, at least with some similarities. Money, for all the good it can do, can also create tremendous damage. As the numbers get larger, the walls tend to get higher. Money is not evil, but its lack or abundance can certainly create the appearance of it.

A financial planning conversation is designed to reveal what you really want from life. Money is part of the conversation, but this is an opportunity for you to reflect on your values and what is genuinely important to you – whether you have a lot or a little. Importantly, we will help ensure that you do not live beyond your means, there is not a limitless supply. Only your imagination is limitless.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

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The Eye of Truth – Mindhorn

The Eye of Truth – Mindhorn

It seems that we are living in a time of “alternative facts” of course we aren’t it is merely that certain politicians and business leaders wish us to believe their point of view rather than reality. So perhaps there is a certain sense of good timing for a bionic eye that enables truth to be seen. However, as with most things, the irony in this instance, is that the possessor of the bionic eye, (Mindhorn) is blind to his own shortcomings.

Mindhorn is a new comedy about a TV actor “Richard Thorncroft” (Julian Barratt) playing a detective “Mindhorn” in the 1980s. Now many years later, the type cast, washed up actor is struggling to maintain his dignity in a world that has forgotten him. He is rescued by a serial killer; whose own delusions mean that he believes that Mindhorn is real. As a result, reluctantly the local Police call in Mindhorn for one last performance to entrap the villain.

Bodie & Doyle meet Steve Austin and Knight Rider

Being comedic, this has the potential to be a rip take of any and every TV detective since Bodie and Doyle at CI5 with references as broad as the lapels. How one man is stuck in the past of his glory days and failing to embrace the present, or indeed the uncomfortable truth of reality. Sadly, the film, like many, has all of its best bits in the trailer. There are some funny moments, but this is a fairly tame affair which could have been so much better, despite being rammed with an impressive collection of actors, who all must have also thought that the concept was good, but the final delivery…. Hmm. Take comfort in the fact that there are as many twists as there are in a straight piece of wood, which certainly could not describe the acting, but recycled pulp is probably not far off the truth about the script.

Former Glories

On occasion, we all meet people that are an echo of their former greatness. Whilst I can accept that with age limitations do apply, particularly the laws of physics! It seems such a missed opportunity to not live fully irrespective of age. I’m sure that like me, you meet many that do. Retirement can seem like a fairly scary subject for some people. What on earth will they do with their time? Just endless rounds of golf and bridge? Well, I can assure you that the retirees that I advise all have very active lives, in fact most are more active than ever before. I’d argue that retirement is nothing to fear at all – infirmity however, well, that’s a different thing entirely.

A Vibrant Retirement

So any financial plan, should really be set up for a full and vibrant retirement, one that reflects what you wish to do and how you intend to spend your time. Of course things may change over time and for some, infirmity may become an unwelcome compatriot, so some thought also needs to be given to the “what if?” of this prospect…. Which may or may not occur.After all, even the Duke of Edinburgh has only just annoucned that he will “retire” later this year – and he’s 96 in a few weeks time! Financial planning is very much about taking a look into the future and making some changes now, if you don’t like what you see (albeit with loads of assumptions). It is never a sense of constantly trying to restart the glory days like Mindhorn. There are some things that need to grow, some that need to die and some that simply need to be tried.

Here’s the trailer for Mindhorn. It makes a compelling pitch as a comedy, but sadly lacked the final punchline.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

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Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

The myth, fantasy or religion of the superhero or saviour is pretty much embedded in every culture in the world. For those of us that grew up watching Spock, Kirk and Bones boldly go where no man had gone before, the idea of a mixed crew facing new existential threats in new frontiers is nothing new. The global melting pot that is post-modern America, is represented in contemporary superhero saviours.

Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the many branches of Marvel comic superheroes. Unlike many of the more two-dimensional superheroes that are “good” and fight “bad”, the Guardians are a more eclectic mix of pirates with a conscience, out to save life-kind. Any reading of most myths would likely suggest that subtlety is an unlikely prerequisite for the role of hero, saviour or guardian and this motley crew are as subtle as the obligatory movie soundtrack sale (ker-ching!).

Sadly, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is a rather more obvious copy of previous attempts of the same story, almost a direct copy of “Return to the Forbidden Planet” which is derived from “The Tempest” by Shakespeare. The CGI is obviously better, but essentially, it’s the same.

Superhero your financial plan?

So what on earth can a financial planner gain from a Superhero film? Well, perhaps a reminder that relationship is at the heart of everything and those that are obsessed with their own ego, the narcissists, are just about the worst people to hang out with. However, perhaps allowing for the more nuanced subtlety that real people (and real clients) require, there is one particularly vital lesson for investors. It is this. The perfect world does not exist…. life is brief.

The real world is as complex and as messy as the people that inhabit it. Investors seeking illusory risk-free bumper returns, yet despite regulation, your inbox or “newspaper” is probably crammed with offers of them. Investing in property because you believe equities are “risky” is a misunderstanding of both. We might want jargon free, easy to understand financial products (most could be substantially improved) yet we live in an imperfect world where often all is not as it appears and our own desires may not necessarily be the best path for us to take. Simple is not always better.

The Perfect Life?… good luck with that

We live in a world of fairly immediate gratification, yet there are consequences to every decision. What we require, all of us, is wise and good counsel, that is designed for our best interest, not necessarily the convenience of “perfection”, which is invariably disguised as more earthy, pithy virtues such as redemption or restoration of broken relationships… or perhaps simply finally attaining the approval of a parental figure, through the acquisition of “stuff” that is the equivalent of those unnoticed (or noticed) gold stars.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff 
As dreams are made on: and our little life 
Is rounded with a sleep.

The Tempest, Prospero Act 4, Scene 1.

As for Guardians, well it’s a bit of fun and in a world where distraction from the trials of life is the invisible drug that keeps most of us going, it will doubtless make a fortune. I hear that the third film is already commissioned. Here is the trailer for the latest movie, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2… and no it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, however Guardians is all about the ordinary doing the extraordinary when sharing a common cause together as a family, tribe or group of misfits.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Email me to get in touch

Their Finest

Their Finest

In these days of some rather confused notions about patriotism, any film that looks back to “the good old days” is likely to cause a few raised eyebrows. This year, films that look back at events of World War II now have a slightly different resonance. There will be several significant films released in 2017. One that has already been released is “Their Finest”.

The film is essentially about crafting a patriotic, encouraging story (propaganda) within the constraints of the reality of grave uncertainty about the future. Whilst “The War” is an obvious milestone in history, (and I might argue still has a legacy that we are living with) this is also a significant turning point in the progress of women in the workplace.  Catrin Cole (Gemma Arteton) has a flair of creative writing and together with an ensemble of men, unfit for fighting, begins her own battle for perspective… she is brought in to write the “slop” by which is meant “women’s dialogue”. Facing more than bombs falling on London from Hitler, she faces the culture of the day that appears to see women rather simplistically.

Churchill and of course Hitler, both believed in the power of film to inspire and convey their own messages. Today we are perhaps a little more sophisticated when it comes to deciphering the messages contained within, although elections tend to suggest otherwise.

A Life Story or Story of Life

It reminded me that I often talk of “the story of our life” with clients. Thankfully, here in Britain, we now live largely at peace, able to shape our own destiny to a greater or lesser extent. This is of course in large part, thanks to those that fought for our freedoms in both wars. In many senses, as in the film, we know both the beginning and the ending, perhaps a few points along the way, but there is a significant amount of gap filling. It is these smaller details that make a film believable and likeable.

The same is true of our own story. Our lives are obviously rather more than a simple tale of birth, education, work, retirement and then death. The way “retirement” is discussed would suggest that it is simply the point at which you reach 65… or later. Yet of course life certainly does not stop at retirement (which can be at any age and I would redefine as “financial freedom day” – simply the day you choose to work because you want to, not because you need to). When we demonstrate to our clients, their lifetime cash flow, it is not a simple account of what money is available. Instead it is a truly interactive demonstration of a “spending plan” or perhaps better – a life plan. This is based upon genuine goals, milestones, desires and yes, a few wishes. It enables you to clearly see what the future might look like if you take a certain course and what it would cost. The skill of the planner is in the editing – carefully avoiding over-detailed plans, whilst ensuring that they remain consistent and true to the facts.

Living Your Finest

Like Catrin, we all get to write our own stories, we do not let others write them for us, however sometimes we all need the right encouragement and space to dream. We might even call this our own form of propaganda, which is why having an impartial planner is vital to ensure that our dreams are not pipe dreams, but a pathway of choices that fit into our own story. So that you can make it your finest work. Here’s the trailer for the film.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Email me to get in touch

The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending

If you are a client or if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you will know that I believe that we all have our own story. It may not be significant to most, but it is certainly significant to a few. At every funeral we are told a life story. Invariably by someone not terribly familiar with the details or even the rhythm, but told it is, or at least a version.

None of us know how long we have left in this mortal realm, indeed if the war of words between North Korea and the US develops beyond posturing, we may all have cause to seriously think about our mortality. Thankfully I am an optimist, hopefully self-made disaster will be averted and we can continue to have our more comforting perspective about longevity. However, as we witness on a daily basis, many do not live as long as expected.

We may prepare in various ways, seeking answers to life’s biggest questions. However whilst we live, we can to some extent recall and recount our own stories. I suggest creating a “Life Book” – a collection of memories, images, thoughts and reflections. Those that you wish to preserve and perhaps lessons that you wish to pass on. This is your opportunity to be clear about who you are and why you made the choices you did. A genuine opportunity to “open up”.

Life Book-ended

So I was intrigued to see the film “A Sense of an Ending” with an immediately recognizable cast, (Jim Broadbent, Harriet Walter, Charlotte Rampling and Emily Mortimer who propel us from the teenage years in the 1960s to the present day, the tale of those born in the 1940s. The story is based on the novel of the same name by Julian Barnes and relays the story of the nearly retired Tony Webster (Jim Broadbent). Tony is confronted by emerging pieces of his past and is driven to review his understanding of them as we are taken on a tour of memory adjusted lane. Not all the pieces fit as neatly as he would wish and certainly not as he had presumed.

Facing the future by reflecting on the past

For those of us that regularly take stock of our lives and seek to understand the influences and key moments within it, this may provide some insight into how our first draft is rarely the last. If you do see the film, let me know if it alters your approach to how you record your own life story. As I think Soren Kierkegaard said “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Financial planning is of course forward-looking, but as is often the case, to look forwards we must understand the past, which means facing our own.

Here’s the trailer for the movie “A Sense of An Ending”.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Email me to get in touch

Bare Foot Obsession

Bare Foot Obsession

There’s something terribly predictable about the new show to arrive at The Barbican. Obsession, staring Jude Law and Halina Reijn is the very familiar tale of old man, young wife, cuckolded by a visiting younger man. A storyline so old that even Chaucer may have asked “ Whyts newe?”… as it turns out, very little… even a few clumsy lines about being a beneficiary of the life assurance policy (for an unimpressive £50,000).

Once again audiences are treated to a minimalist set, which at The Barbican, feels like an empty expanse – which merely serves to underline the empty script. One can only assume that the bowling lane size TV screen that rises in the final sequence, must have consumed the entire budget. The Director, Ivo Van Hove seems somewhat obsessed with actors running barefoot across the stage and when not bare-footed, bare-chested which is not as radical as I suspect he believes. In truth, no amount of talented acting could really rescue this production, which feels and looks pretentious, carrying the gravitas of a sixth form script.

Coupling and Fracture

Whilst I’m not a relationship counselor, clearly most, if not all, relationships have periods of difficulty. Many, perhaps most, find a pathway through trouble, some do not. There are lots of assumptions made in financial planning, but making assumptions about current relationships over the next thirty years or so, clearly is problematic. That’s why it is important to express your values, not simply your goals for your life. Understanding, or at least, being aware of the differences in attitudes towards money, how its handled and what its for is fairly fundamental for most couples. Yet economic power, or the lack of it can wreck or enhance a relationship, depending on who you really are. A reality displayed regularly within various “media” who pick over the disintegration of any “celebrity” relationship.

So a decent financial plan will touch (carefully) on these issues, a really good one will help a couple to face areas of “non-alignment” and furnish them with thoughtful options. In drama, a bad script can sometimes be salvaged by good actors or direction, but not always. When it comes to financial planning, you write your own script and having an impartial observer can make all the difference to a worthwhile story.

The Car Man

As for “Obsession” it didn’t leave much of an impression. The dramatic tension left almost as soon as it arrived. If you wish to see a much better retelling of this story, without a script, I can thoroughly recommend the ballet, The Car Man by Matthew Bourne… a guy that knows a thing or two about storytelling without using words.

and here is the trailer for the play…

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

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It’s A Wonderful Life

It’s A Wonderful Life

There’s a picture that hangs in our reception room, it’s a fairly large still from the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Most people know the movie and will have seen it at some point. For many people it’s a “feel good” movie and invariably watched at Christmas.

The film touches on various themes, greed, capitalism, social enterprise, family, relationships, honesty, mental health, immigration, vice… a plethora of ideas that could be explored. Arguably, the central idea is really that of ‘what if?” What if George Bailey had never existed? How would the lives of others be different? The central point being that we all (generally) take the importance of our own existence too lightly. We are all unique, we all have something to contribute, a part to play and the lives of others, our communities would be different without any one of us.

 

Naturally, we all (well most) have a sense of humility about quite how significant our impact is, unless you are the type of person that invariably ends up taking credit for the actions of others. There’s a fair bit of that around the world at present, most evidently demonstrated by certain political “leaders”. This of course is nothing new, simply depressingly familiar.

What we fail to clearly explain

One of the greatest difficulties I have within my role as a financial planner is quantifying and explaining the difference we have made to clients by not doing certain things. To put it another way, what we have advised against, altered, prevented, discounted, ruled out – all as part of our normal actions. Our regulator and professional indemnity insurers are still rather more obsessed with what we arranged and did rather than what we didn’t. Regulation is still largely based upon what was “sold” not what was achieved. One investment company (Vanguard) attempted to quantify the impact of fairly routine discipline that a financial planner applies for clients. They calculated that this added about 3% a year to a client’s investment returns. They called this “Adviser Alpha”. They’ve been measuring and doing their sums on this since 2001.

However, for me this still falls way short of the value that we as your financial planner can add. How much value is added by ensuring clients have a Will? Appropriate life assurance? A proper plan? That they don’t run out of money? Being challenged to really express what they want from and for their own lives….and so on.

That thing about honesty..

In the film George Bailey has built personal relationships within his community of customers, so much so that when he experiences great difficulty, largely through no fault of his own, they rally around to support him. In our litigious culture of blame and extraction of money at almost any expense, it seems unlikely that such an incident could occur. Yet if we all pause for a moment to simply reflect on the sort of people we wish to be and to spend time with, isn’t it those who share a sense of honesty, trust and mutual connection?

What if?…

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Email me to get in touch