IT COULD BE YOU… BUT ITS UNLIKELY

TODAY’S BLOG

IT COULD BE YOU… BUT ITS UNLIKELY

If you have been a client for more than a week, you will have gathered that I like, want and encourage clients to hold some cash. The key word is some. This will be different for everyone and depend on several things. Your planned projects over the next 36 months and the emergency buffer you believe is appropriate should your employed (or self-employed) income cease. If you draw a pension from an annuity, the State or an old final salary pension, those are guaranteed and won’t stop until you do.

10 YEARS ON

Cash rates as we all know have been very low for a decade or so now. Holding cash in a world of rising costs over the “long-term” isn’t good for your wealth. By way of comparison 10 years ago a first-class stamp was 46p, today it is 85p…. ah you sensibly plan ahead and use second class, 36p has become 66p.

If I am generous about cash deposit rates, using a Cash ISA rate, a typical “decent” rate in 2011 was 2.75% today its about 0.4%. Remember, costs have gone up, the interest you have been getting has reduced. Holding cash for 10 years… that warrants a discussion, but let’s just assume it’s the same emergency “help me sleep at night” reserve. In June 2011 the rate of inflation in the UK was 4.2% today (data from May 2021) it’s around 2.1% and you will have likely heard some noise about it rising having jumped  from 0.5% in February.

How safe if your safety net really?

FEAR IS EATING YOUR WEALTH

There is no way that I would attempt to encourage you to place all of your money into investments, but unless you are preparing for Armageddon, I cannot see much logic in holding large sums. We can help get better rates for those with sums over £100,000 but its still peanuts, even using a decent cash management platform.

PREMIUM BONDS

Some of you like NS&I Premium Bonds. They are a bit of fun, the Government’s way of raising money without raising taxes, borrowing from taxpayers. Whilst NS&I are not backed by the FSCS cover of £85,000, they are backed by HM Treasury, so… pretty safe. Premium Bonds are really a lottery without loss of your stake money. The chance of your Bond winning even the smallest prize is now 34,500:1…. Rather less than your chance of contracting covid or going on holiday. So to have a reasonable chance you need at least £34,500 in Premium Bonds and preferably £50,000 (the maximum).

We are a small firm, so the sample size may not be terribly helpful, but in the 30 years or so (over 360 draws) that I have been doing this, not a single client has won more than £1,000 from a single Premium Bond. None of our clients have won prizes in the high value band (£5,000 to the two £1m jackpots each month).

I do understand that there is a charm about Premium Bonds, but the maths just doesn’t stack up for you. There are 25million NS&I customers – that’s getting towards half of the UK. The draw for June saw the usual 2 jackpot winners and a further 190 people that won £5,000 or more. The bulk of “winners” some 3,101,040 of them won £25 (97.89% of winners win £25). The total winnings (all prizes) was £91m.. which sounds a lot until you realise that £77.5m is those £25 payments. There were, wait for it.. 109,286million entries (qualifying £1 Premium Bonds). The chance of winning anything is certainly 3.1m in 109,286 million… that is a very small chance of winning. Most think of the big £1m jackpot, the chance in June was effectively 1 in 54,643,229,674, yes you get a bite at the same pie each month, but so does everyone else. So to put this in context you are 1 in 67,081,000 as a member of the UK population and you might be picked for a gong or almost anything.

The other thing that people forget is that £1m, which for most of us would be nice to have! isn’t the same value as £1m in 2011. It buys you rather less because of the decade of inflation, yet the prizes don’t really increase, because they are nice, neat, round numbers. Its a bit like the TV gameshow “Who Wants To Be A Millionnaire?” which first aired on 4 September 1998… thats now nearly 23 years ago! A million isn’t what it was, yet all of us were brought up to believe that it was a vast sum of money, which when we were children, it was. In fact £1m in 1998 is about the same as £1,840,000 now, but that doesn’t make a good strap-line for a TV show does it. To put it another way £543,478 now (roughly) was £1m in 1998.

The truth (remember I promised you that) however uncomfortable it is, is that holding cash will provide the sense of security but you will experience your spending power reduce each year. Admittedly not all the things we buy rise at the rate of Royal Mail, but have your basic costs really reduced or stood still? I suspect not.

You need to use your money in assets that grow and generate wealth. Talk to me.

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

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

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The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

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IT COULD BE YOU… BUT ITS UNLIKELY2021-06-28T17:42:50+01:00

A PATCHWORK QUILT

TODAY’S BLOG

A PATCHWORK QUILT

One of my old History teachers used to regularly cite the phrase “history is a seamless garment” which he quickly attributed to AJP Taylor (his own Tutor I think). I am not so sure, perhaps it is more of a patchwork quilt.

One of the many common gripes investors have is the great paperchase that they (and we) have to undergo on a regular basis. Well intended regulation, designed to protect has created a mountain of collected paperwork. Sadly, most of it is entirely useless with illustrations that will never be accurate (because they assume a world that none of us live in) and leave you wondering why you bothered with them.

This deep frustration is compounded when mergers and acquisitions happen. Most investors are left to become detectives of their own past, trying to piece together old pension companies and employers who have similar names that are then changed over time as they become consumed by the largest businesses who have largely survived through inertia.

Last week Old Mutual became the new formerly known as. For the “contemporary” music buffs amongst you, this is not the same problem that “Prince” had with his owners, err I mean production company… as he elected to become a “squiggle” so as to avoid confusion that he was not Prince, but the artist (formerly known as Prince) now “squiggle”.

I wonder if Pension and Investment companies might one day become simply are symbol, even then, it wouldn’t really help most of us with our own filing system. We came close recently as Standard Life Aberdeen Investments, tried to make itself edgy, using the name ABRDN. Read that aloud phonetically (a burden?). Some time ago Skandia attempted to use a colon – see below : (at least that’s what I assumed it was).

Solomons IFA blog all in a name

THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE

Anyway, back to Old Mutual – a name that was always going to struggle as a new, innovative brand, they have now become Quilter, (now the headline makes a bit more sense right?) which is (as they all are) a mash up of various companies now selected and reselected to create something that might hopefully suit someone. I am not having a go at Quilter, its simply another example of name changes that I’d suggest may not be “permanent” the irony of this being the name of an insurer amuses me.

Quilter, like those before them, will have written to you if you have an Old Mutual arrangement, or a Skandia Investment Solutions, Skandia, : or Selestia. However, it’s possible that you treated it as unrequested junk mail, not recognising the branded envelope.

The big winners are the printers, paper suppliers and design agencies who all get to re-do their work of a few years ago again, or again again.

However, in this instance, as Selestia, Skandia Investment Solutions and Old Mutual were all really like a basket into which other people’s funds were placed, you have the added benefit of a myriad of fund name changes as well. If you are confused, you have my genuine sympathy and I would encourage you to exercise patience with your shredding, being sure that you are destroying the right documents as even the policy/account/plan numbers may have altered to suit a new computer system.

In fairness to these gigantic businesses, it must be a terribly difficult task to move everyone onto the same technology solution which requires human checking and one of the reasons they amalgamated was to remove as many costs (humans) as possible making the job rather harder than it needed to have been. Still, I am sure that the new digital system that cost the GDP of a small country will not require an upgrade for at least another round of drinks. They may of course find that the benefits of new technology are a double-edged sword, with the ability to move away being easier than moving internally.

So, if you have any questions about the patchwork of possible arrangements that you may have, please ask. Hopefully Quilter will not have us all in stitches. I’m certain that your call is truly important, so much so that finding staff to take it remains the clearest priority.

Alternatively you can let us, your financial planner, worry about this stuff so that you can get on with your life.

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

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

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The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

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A PATCHWORK QUILT2021-06-21T12:44:45+01:00

WONDERVISION

TODAY’S BLOG

WONDERVISION

Its not a typo, I am well aware that the latest Marvel series is WandaVision, which far from being about superpower, is all about the very real human feelings of grief and loss. So no, today I am not talking about that.

This morning (too late?) ok, so tomorrow morning when you wake up, I’d like you to think about how many companies have been involved in your morning routine. Let’s face it, morning routines have been fairly routine for months now, so this may require very little effort as many of us are on autopilot.

RISE AND OBSERVE

To the matter at hand. I am going to assume that you are waking in your bed, with a pillow in your own room. Can you remember where you bought these from? Or who made them? How about your bedside table, lamp, clock, book (and pen?) what about your nightwear, sheets, carpet? How much “stuff” can you observe that you have bought before you have even put a foot into your slippers or directly onto the floor? A surprising number already I imagine. Where is your smartphone at this point? Do you have lots of applications running?

The image below is one that I have been using recently, but it is very flawed, there are about 100 companies shown here, there are about 1600-1800 in the global equity part of your portfolio. So that’s about 5% of the list. Note the size and position of each logo means absolutely NOTHING.

SOLOMONS IFA - INVESTING 1800

X-RAY VISION

Now for the superpower, imagine that you have x-ray vision. You can see all the components of all the objects around you, the springs and stuffing in your bed, the wires and plumbing, the bricks, plaster, cement, the metal window locks, the PVC, glass, the screws, nuts and bolts. How about all those automatic things that are also supporting this modest existence of yours? The utility company, your broadband provider, your insurance policies, water supplier, your bank accounts and so on. A vast number right? So many you probably gave up or did not attempt to count.

Most of those products and services are provided by companies found listed on the world stock markets. They are also in your portfolio, no matter how big or small it may be. They are there. This is investing. Deploying your money to back businesses that we all use, many of which we do not even realise. Even with the huge rise in technology where you will be using software on hardware that perhaps you are so familiar with it does not even register until its replaced, upgraded or fails…much like (exactly like) all the things you have just observed.

You own a part of all of this. A small part, but your money is backing those companies to improve what they do. We all know that the future will be different, and some businesses will need to adapt to the changes or fail, but new ones will emerge for things that none of us can imagine clearly (if you can, please get backing (money) to make it).

This is what your investments do.

Should you wish to see the mini-series WandaVision about Wanda and Vision, it can be found on the Disney channel, another holding in your portfolio.

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

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

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GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

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WONDERVISION2021-03-16T08:48:52+00:00

Nucleus and James Hay

TODAY’S BLOG

NUCLEUS AND JAMES HAY

The world of Financial Services can often seem dull, but many of us that have been around for a little longer than a week are very familiar with the frequent merging of financial services companies. This morning it has been announced that Nucleus have accepted an offer to be acquired by the James Hay Group. Many of our clients have holdings on the Nucleus platform.

Change is unsettling, the reality is that we can never prevent change, we simply must face it. Nucleus is, to be blunt, a rather brilliant company that we have been using for many years. The technology works and the culture which in no small part directly derives from David Ferguson have been a beacon in my sector. One of integrity, innovation, and transparency.

James Hay is a very large financial services company that mainly specialises in pensions. We have always been able to use them for our clients. We review the platforms we use each year and this is based on various criteria from “does it work?” to financial resilience. In truth, it would be improbable that Nucleus remains your platform forever – technology will always evolve.

Nucleus and James Hay

THE EVOLUTION CONTINUES

On the face of it, this looks like a sensible and good deal, but as always, we will keep things under review. Should we advise something different, we will do so. However, at this stage that would seem highly unlikely. We will watch the usual criteria and hope, as I am sure both firms do, that 1+1=3 where there are improvements and advantages (such as price reductions for clients on either or both).

David Ferguson, the Nucleus CEO who I interviewed for our last edition of Spotlight, says

Since we launched in 2006 we’ve always put the customer centre stage and while that has made us a little bit different it’s carried us to £17.4 billion in AUA and to a point where the sentiment of our users and our people has never been better. Becoming part of this enlarged group gives us a key role in a much bigger story where we can create a leading independent platform of scale with a high tech, high touch proposition and philosophy. I think the combination of our people’s talents and the size of the opportunity can see us carefully navigate the roadmap to deliver on this collective medium-term goal. I look forward to getting to know our new colleagues and moulding a group culture that is centred on doing the right thing and building a market-defining product that really delivers for advisers and their clients.”

I remain open-minded and aware that change ushers in anxiety. There is nothing significant that has altered but in time we hope for improvements, if these are not forthcoming we shall of course review the platform we are using for you. Please also note that one of the many reasons for selecting Nucleus is that there are no exit penalties. It is my hope that this will simply be nothing more than an advantage.

In the interests of the absence of doubt, I have never directly owned shares in any financial services company. In the beginning advisers were very much part of the Nucleus set-up and it was a requirement for them to have some financial stake in the company as part of its backing. I felt that this was a potential conflict of interest and didn’t buy shares (so I do miss out on this deal). I believe that I was the first or certainly one of the first advisers that Nucleus permitted access without buying shares. I may be wrong on that, but that’s what I understood to be the case.

In summary – I am not concerned, if this changes we will make changes – as you would expect.

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

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

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GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

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Nucleus and James Hay2021-02-10T09:33:37+00:00

ITS IN YOUR INTEREST

TODAY’S BLOG

IT IS IN YOUR INTEREST

You may have noticed a press release by National Savings or more accurately, NS&I – of for most of us “the post office”. Sadly, we all know that cash savings rates have been in the doldrums since the financial crash and took yet another nosedive (who would have thought it possible?) in March once Covid became something that the Government actively noticed.

Over the last few months, I have been suggesting various cash deposit solutions and NS&I has been one of them. Now that rates are at rock bottom (hopefully they cannot get worse) it is a good time to review where your cash is and what rate you are receiving.

SOLOMONS IFA AUTUMN 2020 ARRIVING

MORE HIGHLY RATED

As you may have gathered from previous posts, we can provide access to online cash management solutions, these are designed to achieve two things. Firstly, to get a better rate, secondly to keep funds within the £85,000 FSCS protection limit. An additional benefit is that you only need to apply once, as rates come to an end you simply reselect the best from those available via the service. There is no additional paperwork or hassle trawling to find the new “best buy” only to discover it has ended or is about to.

Get in touch if you wish to know more about this, it is a service relevant to individuals, business owners, Trusts and Charities (so pretty much everyone).

Anyway, here are the changes announced by NS&I this week.

PRODUCT RATE NOW RATE FROM 24/11/2020
Direct Saver 1.00% 0.15%
Investment Account 0.80% 0.01%
Income Bonds 1.15% 0.01%
Direct Cash ISA 0.90% 0.10%
Junior ISA 3.25% 1.50%

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

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

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ITS IN YOUR INTEREST2020-09-23T15:12:57+01:00

PATIENCE OF VALUE

TODAY’S BLOG

VALUE INVESTING

David Booth, the Executive Chairman and Founder of Dimensional wrote a piece that I would like to share with you. As you may know here at Solomons we believe in taking a long-term view of investments because they are designed to provide long-term sustainable wealth. Chasing returns appears easy as markets rise and fall, yet this as we have demonstrated time and time again is a fools errand and is not a robust, repeatable investment strategy, save a continual erosion of your wealth. Investing in equities (shares/stocks) provides the best chance of long-term inflation beating returns. A globally diversified portfolio with a bias towards smaller companies and undervalued ones (value) has plenty of evidence of outperformance over the long-term. However patience is required during periods where this does not appear to work (which if you think about it is part of the reason why it does). Anyway, here is David.

DAVID BOOTH

If studying financial markets for 50 years teaches you anything, it’s to keep things in perspective. During times of great uncertainty, like we’re experiencing now, investors may feel tempted to project today’s headlines forward or forget the useful lessons we’ve learned from the past.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately in the context of the growth vs. value stock debate.

Too often, news headlines distract us from taking the long view. They create a sense of urgency around what’s happening in the market right now. But we have nearly a century’s worth of data, and decades of financial science, to look to for guidance. That evidence reveals many investment lessons. For example, over long periods of time, stocks have generally outperformed bonds. This makes sense when you think about it. Stocks are riskier than bonds, so you expect to earn a premium return.

Most investors are probably familiar with this so-called equity premium, but they may be less familiar with the market’s size and value premiums. The same basic logic applies, and the same record backs them up. Historically, the stocks of smaller companies have outperformed those of larger companies. And relatively inexpensive stocks have outperformed more expensive stocks.

There’s solid theory behind thinking about investments in this way, but the premiums don’t necessarily show up every day. In fact, there can be long stretches when they don’t—stretches that can test the faith of investors.

I haven’t met many people who expect stocks to return less than US Treasury bills. And yet back when we started Dimensional Fund Advisors in the early 1980s, we found ourselves at the end of a 14-year period where T-bills actually outperformed the stock market. I remember a cover of Businessweek magazine proclaiming “The Death of Equities.” People then were saying the stock market would never be positive again. Of course, investors have since experienced one of the longest bull market runs in history.

We’re experiencing a similar historical variance right now with value stocks. Over the past decade, growth stocks have largely outperformed value stocks. But it’s important to keep things in perspective. According to Dimensional’s research, while value’s performance in the US from 2009–2019 was in line with its historical average (12.9% vs. 12.7%), growth significantly exceeded its historical average (16.3% vs. 9.7%). In other words, value has performed similarly to how it has behaved historically—it’s growth that’s been the outlier, performing better than expected. Financial science suggests you should enjoy these unexpectedly good returns, but don’t count on them repeating.

In my view, the rationale for investing in value stocks is as strong as ever: The less you pay for a stock, the higher your expected return. This is simple algebra. Still, some people are questioning whether the value premium has somehow disappeared. If value investing no longer worked, we’d have to throw out our economic textbooks and develop a new algebra.

I’m often asked what investors can do during times like these. The key to capturing any premium is to maintain consistent exposure to it. While we understand that the value premium may not show up every day, every year, or even every decade, sticking with value stocks can help you capture that premium over time.

No one can predict when premiums will show up, but we know they can show up quickly. In fact, some of the weakest periods for value stocks compared with growth stocks have been followed by some of the strongest. On March 31, 2000, growth stocks had outperformed value stocks in the US over the prior year, prior five years, prior 10 years, and prior 15 years, according to research conducted by our firm. As of March 31, 2001—one year and one market swing later—value stocks had regained the advantage in each of those time periods.

Why such a dramatic swing? It’s human behavior to stick with what’s working, and during periods when growth stocks are outperforming, many investors keep piling into those stocks. But many long-term investors think of it another way: The expected return on relatively cheap stocks is getting higher, which means more opportunity. As I like to say, value stocks are crouching lower now so they can spring up higher later.

Over half a century of observing markets, time and again I’ve seen that returns come in spurts. That’s why getting into and out of the market repeatedly is such a bad idea—you’re too likely to get caught on the wrong side of your decision. You can’t time returns. And you can’t predict them. To capture the historical premiums, you have to stay disciplined.

My long career in finance has taught me that there’s great value in keeping perspective, which includes keeping perspective on value. As my friend Robert Novy-Marx says, “I wake up every day expecting to see the value premium.” I, too, wake up every day expecting value stocks to deliver higher returns for investors. Time has only strengthened that conviction.

David Booth
Dimensional Fund Advisors

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

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

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PATIENCE OF VALUE2020-09-09T11:18:50+01:00

WHAT SHALL I DO ABOUT MY SHARES?

TODAY’S BLOG

WHAT SHALL I DO WITH MY SHARES?

First, let me be clear – I am not a stockbroker, I am not licensed to provide advice on specific shares. So, I cannot and will not advise the purchase of one share over another. What I can do is provide you with some generic information.

All proper investing will invest in shares. Today I am simply discussing investing directly into shares (i.e. you hold a piece of paper – that shows you have shares in XYZ company). The other way to invest in shares is via an investment fund.

ADVANTAGES OF SHARES

You can be specific about what you invest in. There are no ongoing charges for your shares if you hold them unless you do so via a trading platform which typically has monthly fees and specific minimums. You do your research, buy the shares, sell them when you want. Some provide a dividend (which is a taxable income and out of profits), some do not.

Diversification

DISADVANTAGES OF SHARES

Your money does not go very far. Today at the end of June 2020. The share price of Morrisons is £1.90, Sainsbury’s £2.09 and Tesco £2.29 to name three well known companies in the supermarket world. So you have £10,000 to invest, excluding any stockbroker charges (which there will be – for each trade (a purchase or sale of a particular share) you want to create your portfolio which you call Supermarket Sweepstake. I will not go into how or why you select shares, there are many people offering “tips” for free or at a price for rationale and research, but let me say that after 3 decades I can assure you that over the remainder of your life neither I nor anyone else will be able to successfully predict the who and what, but will also fail to consistently, repeatedly outperform the market through their research, genius and luck. Not a soul.

Anyway, back to my daft Supermarket Sweepstake, you think Sainsbury’s will outperform (over what period and why??) the other two but are not so convinced that you put all your £10,000 in just Sainsbury’s so you buy £4,000 worth of shares in Sainsbury’s and £3,000 in each of the others. This results in the following portfolio (roughly).

  • 1913 shares in Sainsbury’s
  • 1310 shares in Tesco
  • 1578 shares in Morrison’s

The above could be achieved with three trades or could be more than that if shares were bought gradually across a day or any other period. Every trade has a cost (and a tax).

I HOLD LOTS OF SHARES, SO I MUST BE RICH…

You hold “a lot” of shares, but you only hold them in three companies and in my rather daft example you hold them all in the food retail sector. This is an example of extreme concentration risk – just 3 actual companies, all doing the same thing,  in the same sector, in the same country. If for any reason supermarkets cannot operate as normal, you will likely see a reduction in their value – or of course other competitors make their trading life rather harder.

Income from the dividends is taxed. If you sell the shares the gains are taxed (though the gain may be within your capital gains tax allowance).

WHY A FUND?

A fund, particularly a fund made up of the entire index, will hold all the shares in the index. If that is regional or specific (i.e. FTSE 100) then it will hold some of all those companies. A global index will hold the lot (pretty much). In the case of the FTSE 100, that is 100 companies, as for a global index – well thousands of companies.

The downside of a fund is that someone is managing it, ensuring that it sticks to its mandate. The cost of management can vary enormously, part of an adviser’s job is to select funds that are suitable for you and cost is an element of the criteria used. For example a good fund we use costs about 0.22% of £10,000 that’s £22 for the year most funds however charge much more and some charge a bit less. As the size of the fund grows the investment costs are more – because they are a percentage.

That said, a comparable stockbroker service is also managing the portfolio, they many be remunerated on trades (an incentive to  constantly change stuff) or performance [or both!] – in which case they may be rewarded for high returns from highly concentrated holdings, but not penalised for low or negative ones… which leads to the inevitable conclusion by the nice gent in the suit to take quite a punt with your hard earned loot, no reason not to is there old chap?

DIVERSIFICATION

The main purpose of the fund is that is provides diversification – holding hundreds or thousands of companies as shares. Some will also hold other types of assets too, depending on what the fund is attempting to achieve.

Both the funds or directly held shares are subject to taxes – on gains and on income. A sensible thing to do would be to put these into an ISA – which is really nothing more than a wrapper that makes the contents tax free.

These days most stockbrokers will need a minimum of £250,000 to build a diversified portfolio of shares, but even then, it is likely that they will use funds. That is because it is hard to get the benefits of diversification without a reasonably large amount of money.

Diversification is really shorthand for “spreading risk” – adhering to the adage – “don’t keep all your eggs in one basket”. This helps dramatically reduce the likelihood of total loss. Holding shares in just three companies that all went out of business would be a total loss, the chance of every company going out of business across global stock markets – well that’s the apocalypse and you will not be worrying about your portfolio.

FINAL NOTE

I am not against you having a small amount of money to play with, an amount that you can afford to see disappear. You can sign up for any trading platform you like, do your research. My only tip is to stick to the industry or sector you know about (your own). Muck around to your hearts content, but do not show me your numbers or genius, it will fade. Everything reverts to mean (average).

I have never watched Supermarket Sweep but I did find this rather old clip from the US show. To my strange mind it is full of metaphors about investing and the mania some display about markets. At the end of this, you need to satisfy your own goals, not those of your peers, friends, markets, media or anyone else, its your life, it needs to be your plan.

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

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

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WHAT SHALL I DO ABOUT MY SHARES?2020-06-30T18:20:18+01:00

THE TROUBLE WITH CASH ISAs

TODAY’S BLOG

THE TROUBLE WITH ISAS

HMRC have published their data about ISAs to the end of the 2018/19 tax year. Their data is reliable or should be because you will recall that each ISA requires your unique National Insurance number. As a result, it is possible to provide accurate data about income, age, gender, and employment.

The deeply disturbing news is that the vast bulk of ISAs are cash ISAs. Cash ISAs are glorified deposit accounts, cash is not a sensible long-term investment strategy, it is a perfect short-term spending strategy. As cash rates have declined from not very much to virtually nothing over the last 20 years, Cash ISAs have basically failed to keep pace with inflation.

“BUT CASH ISAs ARE LOW RISK”

“But Cash ISAs are low risk” you cry, well… what you really mean is that the value doesn’t go up and down (volatility) your assertion would be right, but when you factor inflation into the actual real world, then Cash ISAs are pretty much basically always guaranteed to go down. The risk you run is one of running out of money and the power of your pound shrinks.

There may of course be good reasons for holding Cash ISAs, but based on income range, people over £30,000 generally have more stocks and shares ISAs than Cash ISAs – though its still a fairly close-run thing.

HMRC ISA SUBSCRIPTIONS

“BUT AT LEAST CASH ISAs ARE TAX FREE”

Cash ISAs are tax free, that is certainly true. What that means is that the interest paid to you on your deposit is tax free. All good… well, it was. Since 6 April 2016 there has been a personal savings allowance. Basic Rate (20%) taxpayers are able to earn interest of £1,000 without it being taxed. Higher Rate taxpayers have a £500 allowance and Additional Rate – well, of course we know that it is politically expedient to be seen to punish anyone earning £150,000 or more, so no tax-free savings for you!

WHY LOCK INTO A DEPRECIATING ASSET?

Taking a basic rate taxpayer with interest rates at something like 1.5% at best, then you would need more than £66,000 in your cash ISA before any tax would be applied to the interest. At 1% it would require £100,000. Higher rate taxpayers simply halve the numbers. As for the tax that would be applied on interest above that – well no more than a round of drinks for most people.

A quick trawl of Cash ISA rates today (30/06/2020) and the very best rate I can find is 1.25% if you want to lock your cash up for 7 years… why anyone would do this is beyond me. Then there is the aggravation of regularly looking for a better rate and the hassle of moving your really rather duff Cash ISA into a different one. Life is too short for this nonsense isn’t it?

Similarly, junior ISAs – why bother holding cash for a child for 18 years and missing out on investment growth over nearly 2 decades. It is madness. Investors and savers really must understand what risk really means.

The value of ISAs to the end of the data was £584billion, of which cash ISAs account for 46% yet make up 76% of all ISAs. The chart below (from the HMRC bulletin – so labelled Chart 4) shows the fluctuating but growing value of shares in ISAs. Remember all are being added to each tax year, but the vast majority of the money each year goes into Cash ISAs.

CONFESSIONS OF A CASH ADDICT

OK – so you have some cash ISAs. I am not saying you shouldn’t have them, but only do so if you intend to spend the money fairly soon (within 3-5 years tops). Otherwise you are missing out on a lot of growth and the ability to keep the power of your £ working for you. If you would like a review, do some of the legwork, compile a list of your Cash ISAs, the balances, the Banks or Building Societies that they are with and the current rate of interest you earn. If there is a fixed rate, confirm when that ends. Then send me the information.

RISING VALUE OF ISAS

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

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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THE TROUBLE WITH CASH ISAs2020-06-30T11:50:15+01:00

AVOID MINI BOND SCAMS

TODAY’S BLOG

AVOID MINI BOND SCAMS

Following on from my piece about cash management services I mentioned the problem of a growing number of scams. Cash savers looking for better rates of interest are regularly duped into believing that rates of 4% or more are currently achieved for cash. THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE for deposit accounts UK Banks or Building Societies when the Bank of England rate is 0.1%. Of course a few years ago such rates were common, but not since the credit crunch. So be warned that something that says it is the equivalent of cash when it is nothing of the sort. Genuine interest rates will not be much better than the Bank of England rate – perhaps 2% more, but very little else.

Accounts offering “interest” of more than this are not genuine cash. They could be legitimate, but not cash. The rise of peer-to-peer lending is often a touted as an alternative to a regular bank. There might be some good ones (they may be) but on the whole this is a new business taking your deposit and lending it out to other businesses or individuals at a higher rate than they pay back to you. No different from a traditional Bank, except that a traditional Bank has been doing this for years and has learned the hard way that lending needs to be done carefully… and whilst I am no fan of Banks, just think about who might borrow from such a lender… someone that cannot, for whatever reason borrow from a high street bank. Hey presto, higher risk of default.

MINI BOND SCAM

Mini Bonds are yet another layer of this, except they dont have to relend the money to legitimate borrowers (people trying to fund their business or enterprise where a mainstream bank won’t play ball). They can lend the money to anyone, sadly often to the Directors of the company running the mini-Bond. Thousands of savers have got into problems with these mini-bonds. Tempted by higher rates of “interest” which was then passed on to some pretty despicable humans. These were banned in January, but this month made permanent after mini-bond firm London Capital & Finance collapsed with £237m of savers’ money.

WHITE CAT

WHAT IS A MINI BOND?

There is no legal definition of what a mini-bond is in the UK. Most companies that have offered them, including London Capital & Finance, borrow money from ordinary savers, promising them a fixed return well above the rate available on most standard saving products. The mini-bond firm is then largely free to do what it wants with the money. Many have lent investors’ cash to third party companies (which sometimes has the same directors), bought other risky investments such as race horses or wine, or funded property construction. A number of companies that raised money in this way have collapsed with millions of pounds of savers’ money unaccounted for. The FCA claims that mini-bonds are not within its remit, while criminal investigations for fraud are rare and prosecutions even rarer. As a result, investors generally have no protection if things go wrong, and fraudsters can operate with little fear that they will be punished.

ONLINE ACCOUNTABILITY

One of the many problems with google and facebook is that they carry advertising and seem unwilling or unable to vet adverts for authenticity, though I find this very hard to believe as whenever I have attempted to run even the tiniest marketing initiative on Facebook, my “advert” has to get “approved” before it can run. So… no I don’t believe that more cannot be done. Anyway, savers who are not as sophisticated as the scammers invariably google interest rates and are faced with adverts offering higher rates… what’s not to like? Well just the fact that risk isn’t really explained and its all framed to look, smell, sound and taste like any other Bank. You need to know the real risks that you are taking. A mini-bond is a great way to part with your cash on a permanent basis, something that the stock market does not do until Armageddon (as you will not get to a £zero value if you have invested in an index unless everything is worth nothing – and I can only imagine one scenario where that could occur… the sort of scenario where a Blofeld Bond-like villain (hence the cat picture…) is holding the world to ransom, or the actual obliteration of everything we know. If this ever happens, you won’t be worried about your ISA or pension.

In the meantime, please beware of scams, watch out for the villains, they are rarely as easy to spot as Mr Blofeld. This reminds me of an element of my work which is to act as a type of bouncer to your finances. Some have asked me about my photo, suggesting I look a little “mean” (perhaps they meant grumpy). It is deliberate – anyone that has engaged with me knows that I am having a little joke. As a bouncer, or gate-keeper part of my role is to ward off those trying to part you from your money. Its meant to be a little amusing, (ok not hilarious) whilst holding a very valid truth – that I am on your team as a defence against the rubbish that inevitably comes in your direction, its not if, but when…

As for the calibre of the villains, well the fictional ones are best left to the likes of 007, those that are actual criminals, well… I have to leave them to the authorities whilst doing what I can to prevent them coming anywhere near you.

As for Mr Bond, from the perspective of 2020 there are many aspects of 007 that hang heavily today. A friend of mine recently mentioned that he had rewatched the entire Bond collection with his children, he reappraised his favourite Bond and saw the films in a different light. When it comes to cash accounts, please appraise with care – make sure you know your Bonds from your Mini-Bonds. Here’s a trailer for 007 in “You Only Live Twice” (1967) who, let’s face it, has probably lived more than twice already.

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

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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AVOID MINI BOND SCAMS2020-06-30T09:11:48+01:00
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