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Slammed

Slammed?

I am no art critic. I am a punter when it comes to the experience of art. On occasion though I am left confounded, is this my inability to understand or is this yet another example of the Emperor’s new clothes?

I was at a slam poetry event the other evening. Despite appearances, there really isn’t much that is new about slam poetry.. it is poetry performed by its creator, much how I imagine Chaucer to have gained attention. In most cases it is a powerful experience of rhythm, sound, words and soul as the poet lays bare his or her experience for assessment. Slam poetry is normally competitive, so the performing of the piece is yet another important aspect. However, this is where my perhaps luddite-ness shows, in that the latter overtakes the former, in short, the style over content.

The disconnection I feel is due to the evident accolade and approval that the performance evokes from the assembled crowd. When this is someone of whom I have heard, but never experienced, yet seems inaccessible, invokes the tendency to dismiss all that is not understood as lesser or at least pretentious. I enjoy Jazz, but don’t get some of it. I’m perhaps a little concerned that even if it were explained, I still might find myself feeling indifferent.

I Just Don’t Get It

Contrasting the power of the social, “political” energy of the first set, with incredible, moving, powerful performances from Zena Edwards, Kat Francois and Joelle Taylor the second act, to a layman like me felt more like the event had been hijacked away from the power of the present moment and even the offbeat presumably experimental jazz of Albarn and Coxon did nothing but detract. I say this as someone has paid to board a plane specifically to see a show of new work by Albarn… twice (2007 and 2013).

Diction my, I overpacked ’em

Then I reflected on the way that the language within my own field is often accused of creating impenetrable barriers of jargon and double-talk. The simple idea of talking about money and a plan for life is both nauseating and terrifying that most avoid it or leave it to those who clearly belong in the club of suits, spreadsheets and the occasional Latin text to themselves. The packaging is part of the problem, like the over-engineering of yet another Amazon delivery, almost screaming the box within a box within a box for which the contents is neither necessary nor demanding.

Access All Areas… well, if you are VIP…

The financial services industry is in grave danger of becoming (if not already become) the inaccessible, perhaps misunderstood, detached clique that certain performance art presumes to chastise, yet mirrors. In danger of drowning the life giving and societal changes that the likes of Edwards, Francois, Taylor and Godden offer… or perhaps more accurately, rightly demand. This energy of the current climate (Windrush, #MeToo and street violence) voiced, dreaming and inspiring change needed a bigger platform, not simply the entrance foyer of the British Library.

Despite the sublime funky tones of Don Letts, time, energy, disappointment with the second “set” resulted in an early departure, so yes, I did not stay to “see it through”. I failed to take in the entire piece, but to be blunt, by then it was too late, in every sense and I would simply have to live with the consequences of my choices, being wrong (not for the first time) or simply being slightly further away, which was a pity as I never got to see The Last Poets who are celebrating 50 years of collaboration.

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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Slammed 2018-05-21T14:54:55+00:00

Lady Luck – The Domino Effect

Lady Luck – The Domino Effect

I have a growing awareness of my good fortune.  I might call it luck. This week I was on a training course and we had a very good talk about diversity. We examined the topic from several perspectives, but for the sake of time, this was for application to our own firms (how we employ and empower staff) and also for clients and prospective clients – how we engage in a way that is authentic and accessible.

There is no doubt in my mind that I am fortunate. Lucky to have many “natural” and geographic advantages. Lucky in so many ways and many that I will probably never truly appreciate.

The session prompted some thinking and will inform some of the decisions I make in the future. New, helpful, relevant information tends to do that, doesn’t it?

Luck is not a Superpower

On the train home, I thought about the new film “Deadpool 2”. OK, it probably isn’t everyone’s “cup of tea”. It is an ironic, send up of the superhero, by a superhero. Violent and full of choice language it pokes fun at itself and the cinematic world. There are many comedic moments, which are best understood in the context of superhero films, this is not really a family film, yet it is about family.

Domino (Zazie Beetz) claims that her superhero strength is “luck”. Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) mocks her, claiming that “luck is not a superpower… it’s not cinematic”. It is unreliable and outside of anyone’s control…yet Domino uses her natural skills which are enhanced by luck, which of course makes for an amusing sequence of events in the movie.

Checking back to real life, many of us may fail to appreciate the luck we have. Few can fully do so, some give it a different name. However, when it comes to reliability, luck sometimes isn’t a lady (Guys and Dolls). Luck is not a plan, it is not a super-strength and it definitely has no place in a financial plan, unless your plan is to gamble.

Coming to terms with Carnage

Markets are what they are, hostile for those that do not appreciate how they operate, they have their own “natural laws”. One is a correction. Equities are volatile, we need them to be, that is precisely what provides long-term growth and value. Yet almost everyone behaves as though it is your enemy. The media will fill its vacuum with tales of Armageddon like carnage that neither Deadpool or The Juggernaut could possibly match. Yet this is the unvarnished truth… markets are volatile, they fall, and they rise again… repeat, ker-ching…

The great untruth, is that risk can be removed, that there is growth without pain. Risk can only ever be swapped, not removed.

OK, so here is the trailer… click play at your own risk, lots of F-word and violence. You’ve been warned.

Oh.. if you do go to see the movie, as with all Marvel films, there is more to come within the long rolling credits.

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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Lady Luck – The Domino Effect 2018-05-17T19:57:55+00:00

The Leisure Seeker

The Leisure Seeker

Those that are not retired have many rather cliched ideas about retirement. Invariably these involve lots of leisure, cruises, golf and gardening. Most of the retired people I work with often voice that they are busier than ever, its simply that they don’t have to turn up for paid work.

The Leisure Seeker is a gentle movie about the Spencer’s, John (Donald Sutherland) and Ella (Helen Mirren) who decide to take one last once in a lifetime trip together in their recreational vehicle, a leisure cruiser. Their adult children are left confounded at what they perceive to be irresponsibility, given that John is clearly suffering from signs of dementia.

Memory Lane

The couple take a trip down memory lane, with mixed results. Johns dementia creates a scenario where his confusion about who, where and when he is, leads him to expose some deeply buried secrets. He is also paranoid that Ella is having an affair with Dan Coleman, who he believes is the secret motivation for their trip together.

The cruel irony of John’s dementia means that he is not even aware of the loving nature of their trip, a special excursion to Hemingway’s house in Key West, John’s literary hero, of whom he has recounted many insights to his English students throughout his career.

How does it End?

Any good financial planner will inevitably address the question of your life expectancy. All planners work on the basis of attempting to ensure that your money lasts just a little longer than you do. Naturally, this is educated guesswork and requires regular reviews. However, we also need to be mindful of the difficulty of an ending of a life. Simplifying arrangements where sensible to do so, without ruining years of sensible investment strategies and estate planning.

The film exposes the need to discuss these issues with someone trusted, certainly it would make sense for your planner to have an idea or awareness of your intentions, as it would be for your family, though the emotional dynamic of family relationships makes such a conversation problematic and rich material for drama.

The truth is that all of us face an ending, it’s simply a question of how, why and when. Here is the trailer for the film, which being small, is now reaching the end of its run in selective cinemas.

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 Leisure Seeker 2018-05-15T12:11:04+00:00

Honesty… maybe better than you think

Honesty… maybe better than you think

The internet and media in general would probably leave most of us wondering about the state of humanity. If people can be as nasty as they sometimes appear, what hope is there for honesty? Well, rather than write a piece about this, here is one that Mark Rober, an American has prepared already.

This 9-minute video is about (an admittedly small sample) 200 wallets deliberately dropped or “lost” to determine the general honesty of those that found them. He attempted to allow for gender, income and geography in his test. Here are his findings

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
Honesty… maybe better than you think 2018-05-14T15:41:48+00:00

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom

I wonder if you saw a video clip of a family at Beekse Bergen Safari Park, who for some strange reason left their car to look around. Another park visitor caught their lucky and close escape from a pack of cheetahs. Whilst the video isn’t that clear, other than the obvious “what possessed them?” I was aware of that the mother clutching one of her children was the last to reach safety, somewhat deserted by her husband. It reminded me of a 2015 film “Force Majeure” in which the male parent absconds from his duty.

At this time of year, we see various creatures nurturing their young, well… at least if you manage to get outside amongst any green spaces… whilst I realise that the nurturing instinct is not exclusively female and not all females experience it, it is perhaps generally true. The instinct to protect is “natural” to many.

Delegating Poorly…

Over the years I have met hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people to discuss their financial planning. There are many common themes, but the one that is common amongst couples is where the wife leaves most of the “money stuff” to the husband to sort out. There’s nothing terribly wrong with this, if he does…

Often, men live and behave as though they are indestructible. Perhaps you live with one that doesn’t tend to make too many trips to the doctor, dentist or whatever… Whatever their reasons, many do not take the prospect of illness or death terribly seriously until they are much older. They often rely on benefits provided by employers – the death-in-service cover and so on. Yet any employer benefits will cease, should the employment end. Frankly I would only ever view them as a bonus rather than the solution.

Whether you have children or not, in the event of a serious or long-term illness or perhaps even death, there is almost certainly a financial consequence. It is too late to address this gaping hole once you find yourself in such a scenario. I would urge you not to rely on employer benefits, I have seen the folly of this. I would also encourage every couple to ensure that they have ample financial protection, don’t leave it to one partner to “sort it out” ultimately you may be living with the consequences of poor delegation, I have chosen my words deliberately.

It’s not just couples

Single people also need to reflect on their financial security if they could not earn a living. I know this is morose, somewhat awkward to think about, but I have seen too many people needlessly struggle because they didn’t set up a suitable amount of cover.

Whilst the couple in the safari park may have somehow found a reason to get out of their car, the bubble of a relationship is of no help when the real-world breaks through, which it will, it always does…

Ready for the video from CNN

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
Animal Kingdom 2018-05-14T10:48:17+00:00

A Certain Future

A Certain Future

Our culture is full of clamour for certainty… tell us the future? Why was your forecast wrong? (as a Radio4 presenter seem to berate The Bank of England this morning). Why didn’t you foresee such and such? It seems that we all want certainty – perhaps to affirm our own beliefs about life and people, or perhaps because deep down we know that life is anything but certain.

It appears this quest for certainty is intense at present, I say “seems” because I doubt that’s true, but we are bombarded with messages that would leave most rational folk with a deep sense of anxiety due to climate change, Brexit, technology, feckless politicians and a sense that perhaps, perhaps… the bullies are winning.

If only…

Investors are unsurprisingly startled by the normal behaviour of investment markets, when the “corrections” come. There is always anxiety over when is the best time to invest and when is a bad time to invest. None of us wishes to appear foolish.

Yet the basic law of investing (not speculating) is that markets are volatile, short term investing is unwise, long-term investing in a globally diverse portfolio is the best, most logical way to grow the value of money over time. In exchange you must live with seeing the “value” rise and fall rapidly and daily. If only we knew the future and had some certainty…

The Phlebotomist

I’m here to tell you that there is none. Yet we will search and research for it, developing theories to help us navigate the condition of life. This in mind, I was intrigued by a brief review of a new play “The Phlebotomist” by a young playwriter (Ella Road) which considers a not too distant dystopian future, where a blood test can reveal what illnesses you will suffer from, all rather like a credit score, but a health score.

I understand that this is explored in the context of a dating app, when people are forced to consider their choice of partner, given this pre-warning information. Sadly, I am not able to see the play at Hampstead Theatre which is sold out and runs until Saturday 19th May 2018. I hope that its success will lead to a wider, longer run. If you are going, please let me know your thoughts.

Life would be very dull if we knew what would happen. A sense of “Groundhog Day” is deeply unsatisfying. This fragile life, for all its faults is delightful (or potentially) precisely because of the lack of certainty.

Anyway, here’s a video from the cast of “The Phlebotomist” by Ella Road and directed by Sam Yates.

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
A Certain Future 2018-05-11T10:41:16+00:00

Lean on Pete

Lean on Pete

There has been a variety of research conducted about child poverty in Britain, regrettably I find it hard to decipher the politicisation of interpretations of the results of such reports. Lean on Pete is a fresh look, perhaps a more comfortable one, as it is set at a “safe distance” against the backdrop of the world’s most wealthy nation – the United States. Of course, we all know that many of the issues are pertinent in any developed nation.

The film centres around a Charley, (Charlie Plummer) who lives with his father Ray in what can only be described as poverty. The story unfolds how even someone with very little still has much to lose. He encounters some degree of encouragement in the form Del, (Steve Buscemi) a horse owner/trainer whose own version of coping with a life that hasn’t worked out as planned, compromises the security of all that he has. Some would say “desperate times call for desperate measures” yet when this is more likely to harm your own well-being, it seems entirely counter-productive.

Horses for Courses

Some warmth and tenderness arrive in the form of Bonnie, (Cloe Sevigny) a jockey that has already had more than her share of misfortune and setback yet even this more caring figure, is forced to overlook the love that Charlie develops for the horse in his charge “Lean on Pete” who is seen simply as a commodity. Home life takes a turn for the worse and the prospect of Pete being sold due to his own failing health is too much for Charlie to contend with, so he and Pete head off on a journey in search of the care and love that they both crave.

I really enjoyed the movie, which is currently showing in a small number of cinemas – but you can see it on Curzon Home Cinema. This is a tender film, revealing how quickly circumstances can alter, how money or its lack has considerable consequences for each of our stories. However, much you have, I was reminded of something I heard… you are the sum of the books you read and the people you meet. Sadly, this isn’t always good.

Against the Rails

Of course, Charley being a minor, isn’t a likely client for any financial planner, more likely the adults would be, though in truth, it is improbable that they would seek advice. Any decent financial planner will investigate the “worst scenarios” that life can throw at you, hopefully ensuring that you have adequate financial protection, certainly sufficient to prevent a very hard financial landing. Perhaps more than that, the regular, ongoing ability to check progress, seek an impartial sounding board for ideas and ultimately to identify and prevent “financial self-harm” that most people drift into without realising. It’s your journey, but a good planner is coaching and encouraging each step.

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

Email me to get in touch
Lean on Pete 2018-05-10T12:41:53+00:00

The Occasional Bad Apple

The Occasional Bad Apple

Apple decided a few months ago that they were going to make fairly radical changes to their App Store. This would result in many thousands or millions of applications either ceasing to work or require a dramatic overhaul.

Our own, rather successful app has been thwarted by this issue and as a result the IT crowd that created the app for us have been working away behind the scenes to ensure that it doesn’t suffer from the bad apple syndrome. Sadly, we cannot keep our unique icon or button.

I am delighted to report that the new, all-singing, all-dancing (well, maybe not) app is ready for you to use. It remains free of charge to you and anyone that you suggest might be able to gain some benefit from it. You will need to delete the existing app on your smartphone or ipad, irrespective of whether you use the Apple IOS or Android platform.

Your Next Step

All you need do is head over to the appropriate place and download the new version. You will find an app called “My IFA” and you will be prompted to input a code… which is solomons. Any questions, please email us.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/myifa/id1318240525?mt=8

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=uk.co.myfirmsapp.one.ifa&hl=en

Why Bother?

The app is rammed with very useful calculators and details about tax deadlines, as well as the more important HMRC allowances and keyfacts. There’s a mileage tracker for drivers claiming allowances, a receipt log and… well frankly, just have a look and play with it. Importantly it enables us to contact you directly (and vice versa) with relevant information (not junk spam). This is called push notification and its something that we would like to use more effectively as most of us spend a lot of time with our mobile devices.

Anyway, enjoy our free gift, let us know what else you’d like added to it if you get the chance.

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 Occasional Bad Apple 2018-05-01T20:57:54+00:00

I, Tonya – it figures

I, Tonya

I have to admit to having only a vague recollection of the infamous events surrounding Tonya Harding in the early 90’s. Figure skating is not something that I know much about, I grew up within a family that watched a fair bit of sport on TV. I can just about remember John Curry winning his gold Olympic medal in 1976, but more significantly Robin Cousins, who was “a local” and became an Olympic champion in 1980. Then of course came Torvill and Dean who blew us all away in 1984.The new and somewhat controversial film about “the incident” is currently playing in cinemas and raises plenty of questions.

Chaos, Controversy and Context

Controversy centres around the accuracy of the portrayal of the facts, which are all important. The film attempts to clearly state that some of the “facts” are inaccurate, but others, are a bit more one word against another. In reality the film is all about relationships.  The Tonya Harding (played by Margot Robbie) of the movie is young and hard-edged having lived without much affirmation. She receives constant criticism from an authoritarian, punishing mother (played by Allison Janney) who regularly struck her. This provides fairly much ideal circumstances for a relationship with a man that regularly beat her up.  Sadly, all lack any emotional intelligence and none of them appear to have received much of an education.

The Real Thing

Despite a life of struggle, Tonya is certainly a brilliant figure skater. She is the first American female to successfully complete a triple axel. Clearly her home is on the ice. The film is clear that her success and support is lacking due to her inability to fit with the required image. It is suggested that she is thwarted by judges who simply don’t want her kind in the same circles. This of course is a mixed blessing, earning her fans. Harding managed to break the taboos and gained a place on the US team for the Olympics.

Behind the Curtain

The film is of course largely concerned with the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, a team-mate and rival, who is assaulted with a baton, with the aim of preventing her from competing. The movie contends that Harding had no involvement, that she was at the very worst involved in agreeing to send threatening letters to spook Kerrigan. Those that carry out the assault are portrayed as, frankly inept, half-wits who can barely operate a kettle.

Skating on Thin Ice

It’s an engaging movie, it lacks depth or analysis, but it’s a decent story. How much is fact, or a work of fiction is very much up for debate. As Harding has seemingly changed her version of events numerous times, there will always remain some scepticism over any claim to truth. What struck me was the resulting unfairness (in the movie) of the punishment. This implied that the thugs had a short sentence, whereas Harding had a life-long sentence of being unable to teach, coach or compete in any skating event, ever. This was her one unique ability, her one chance of being able to carve a career that could provide for her and her family. Kerrigan went on to win a silver medal.

Technical Merit and Artistic Interpretation

Harding had sufficient focus and natural talent to be hugely successful and make a good life for herself from skating. This was extinguished through folly. I was at a conference recently where a similar message was delivered. People self-destruct, human nature is the enemy of successful investing. A significant part of being a financial planner, is being a coach, helping clients to alter their investment behaviours from those that are more innate and self-defeating, to those that are based on a disciplined approach, with a long-term mind-set. In a lifetime of investing, remembering the one fabulous investment you made whilst blowing the whole plan, has only one possible result and it strips you of both your dignity and independence.

Anyway, here is the trailer for the movie which is currently in cinemas.

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
I, Tonya – it figures 2018-03-17T17:25:55+00:00

Good news for Equitable

Good News for Equitable Life

There is finally some good news for anyone that is still alive and has an Equitable Life policy. The company that came under serious financial and legal pressure some years ago having attempted to reverse its promises, is now planning to provide an additional payment to policyholders.  The Equitable has built up some reserves and now intends to distribute these to policyholders, all to be approved at the AGM on 31 May.

There is no news about how much, simply that there will be some payment, which is nothing to do with compensation (for which there was a report in 2008 for it to be “speedy”). The company closed to new business in December 2000, so your policy will be at least 17 years old. Equitable will be writing to policyholders in due course. It would seem likely that this only relates to people with holdings in their “with-profits” fund.

Good news for Equitable 2018-03-05T16:38:57+00:00