CRAZY RICH ASIANS

Crazy Rich Asians

I have to admit to being a little uncertain about the title of this film in 2018 and frankly the film itself did little to convince me that it didn’t fit. Yes this is a story about rich Asians, but not what I would describe a crazy. For certain, there are many examples of a dysfunctional family, but no more than most families.

The film has taken the US “by storm” with box office receipts there already more than $120m. This is a love story, a “rom-com” though the jokes were not exactly coming thick and fast. The point of difference is that this is an Asian cast making a film about “normal” Asians that do not fall into the typical stereotypes that we have become accustomed to seeing in the West. At the BFI preview last week, the international cast were very keen to make the point that for them, this was a significant film about their identity, shown in a positive light. Representation within a mass market is something that male white westerners like me will never really fully appreciate because “we” make up the vast majority of the market. I am not going to disagree. However, stereotypes in film are shorthand to make a story move along.

Been Here Before?

I enjoyed the film for its entertainment but cannot in all honesty say that it is particularly good or revolutionary (other than representation). The plot is that of most basic fairy tales with the “rags to riches” heroine confronted by those that wish to preserve and prevent her access to a “higher social class” typically taking the form of the wicked step-mother, here it is simply mother (Michelle Yeoh) and grandmother (Ah Ma). Hardly revolutionary! The males are essentially invisible, due to workaholic lifestyles that keep them away from their families, those that are not already dispatched to British Boarding Schools. Yet this, we are supposed to believe is what Nick Young (Henry Golding) is conflicted by, his love for his Cinderella, Rachel Chu (a US University economics professor) or running the Young family empire in Singapore. Rachel (Constance Wu) is oblivious to the Young family fortune, arriving in Singapore to meet Nick’s mother, more concerned about the US and Singapore cultural differences than any financial ones. Thus, dramatic tension is formed… and the feeling that you have seen this before.

The story unfolds as the couple arrive in Singapore to attend the wedding of Nick’s best friend (hereto unmentioned) Colin and his fiancée Araminta. Through the nuptial preparations Rachel faces backstabbing, envy and malice primarily from those that believe that she has usurped them on their own gold-digging quests. Like the proverbial fish out of water, she seems to forget all the skills that make her a professor of economics at a New York University….

Show Me The Money

I had wondered where issues about money might arise. Perhaps we would learn some deep secret about family, tradition or cultural wisdom that would offer a pithy alternative to the excessive consumerism. Sadly, there was little evidence that Asians are any better at handling wealth than anyone else, no great pearls of wisdom, no Eastern enchantment or sophisticated puzzle to solve.

There are small nods to a sense of inadequacy for the have-nots and a very minor sense of embarrassment for the “haves” the examples provided are forms of excessive spending. Everything is big and done to impress for the Instagram world – no different from anywhere else. Nothing unique at all. There are some tacky and tasteless homes, but no different from that chap that has a Tower. The excessive parties are simply that, self-indulgent and really rather daft. I don’t think I’d call it “crazy” I’d probably describe it as thought-less. That said, this is aimed at Americans, where any word is used to mean “very”. Very Rich Asians would be a more appropriate title, though in fairness, “Some Very Rich People in Singapore” doesn’t have the same marketing slickness to it.

Here is the trailer, the film is on general release from 14 September 2018.

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

CRAZY RICH ASIANS2018-09-25T09:49:53+00:00

Mary Shelley – Design a Life

Mary Shelley – Design a Life

Most probably know something about Mary Shelley. A new film outlines pieces of her life that when reassembled, form the basis for the story of the neglected, forgotten creature. Whilst the acting is good enough (just about), I regret to say that the tale itself is too slow and stiff, much like the author’s creature. The film is wedded to the notion of historical accuracy, the passage of time is painfully laboured. We can marvel at the sheer determination of Mary as she faces challenge upon challenge, most of which are fabricated by society due to nothing more than how she was pieced together herself by way of her gender. A world in which men quickly scoff and take credit for all things good, detach, ignore or abscond from any sense of responsibility. The notion of giving birth to something loathsome is evident both within her gothic novel and life story, yet it forms the basis of many metaphors today.

There is a palpable sense of the position that money affords those that have it and it is also difficult to escape the notion of the fact that this is essentially a film about young, tempestuous love, which is fuelled with financial advantage – not from Mary, but certainly the men in her life. The loss of her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft (age 38 in 1797) something of a pioneering feminist a few days after her birth is not explored. We, like Mary are left to guess at such a legacy and the “well-read” men she encounters appear not to have heeded Wollstonecraft’s work “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman”.

The Escapist Poets

The poet, Percy Shelley (Douglas Booth) who Mary (Elle Fanning) meets at 16 when she is sent away to Scotland to avoid further fractions in her relationship with her step-mother. Percy, 21 at the time, falls for her and eventually follows her back to London, only revealing that he is already married, to someone who he now does not love. The bohemian free movement between relationships he presumes meets with Mary’s support. The men in Mary’s life are not good with numbers, both her father and Percy struggle financially and get out of their depth. A skill in one area of life does not include another. Percy eventually borrows against his future inheritance. All, it seems, because he has fantasies about how he should live.

One Night in Geneva

Lord Byron’s (Tom Sturridge) appearance merely provides yet further resources to alleviate the boredom through various traditional means of escape. I cannot recall quite where I heard it, but I remember someone telling me how they thought that the 1816 dinner-party in Geneva where both Frankenstein (Mary Shelley) and Vampires (John Polidori played by Ben Hardy) were created would be a marvellous night to be a guest at the table. Yet, the night passes damply without any real sense of occasion at all.

History has given credit to Byron as one of England’s greatest poets. What I suspect the film is trying to convey is the sense of his rather selfish sense of entitlement. At 28 he was the eldest of the group in 1816. Polidori being 21 Percy Shelley 24 and Mary just 19. The men, for all their indulgences did not live long afterwards.

Facebook – Victorian Style

Sadly, this film does not do justice to the more radical views of Mary Shelley, instead contorting the story into something that is more like a petulant teen romance. Her own children conspired to hide her feisty nature by doing something of an early Victorian PR work on her character. Mary Shelley was a woman with much to say about society, yet even today most mistake her creation’s very name.

Stories are important to me; your story is the one you tell and want retold (to some extent). Therefore, it seems logical to live by design – on your own terms, how you wish to, not dictated by others. Your finances need to be the architecture around your lifestyle, supporting and ensuring it can continue, but unless you reveal your story to your adviser, how on earth is that possible.

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

Mary Shelley – Design a Life2018-07-25T07:24:12+00:00

Monsters and Men: Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom

Monsters and Men: Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is yet another version (the fifth) of the 1993 hit Jurassic Park. What was once, a milestone for special effects, now rather like the re-engineered dinosaurs is all too familiar. This may have something to do with the financial success of the immediate predecessor, which was the biggest in the series in terms of actual takings ($652m) and this latest film has already taken $333m since June 22nd. Hence the reason for hashing together the same story with minor alterations.

As predictable as the story is, there was a growing unease as I found asking myself “why have I paid to watch the same movie yet again?”. Perhaps that is precisely the point. Why on earth to we never learn from our mistakes of the past, or at least seem unable to.

Fallen Kingdom might be a metaphor for the monsters that we tolerate within our midst. The stereotypes that seem intent on only advancing methods of ruining lives rather than improving them. Men paid to fulfil the orders of the rich, psychopathic and powerful and who never question loyalty to anything other than their own self-interests. That which was once thought long extinct has risen and is now marauding local communities whilst wearing a rosette. The monsters are amongst us, Pandora’s box is open.

Spoiler Alert… really?

As the movie is so much like any of its predecessors, the notion of a spoiler alert seems somewhat redundant, but here is one. There is a sequence in the movie where dinosaurs are auctioned to the usual crowd of despots, criminals and oligarchs. Some are merely using these for “big game hunting” but some to terrorise. The latest “newly improved” DNA adjusted monster is proclaimed to be the ultimate killing weapon. A dinosaur that can be controlled. The control is administered with a laser-sighted automatic weapon, pointed at the victim, dino locks on, and then the bug red button is depressed to release a sound that sends dino into a killing frenzy. This work of deadly genius fetches $28m. Now I have a couple of problems with this. Firstly, if you can point an automatic weapon at your intended target, why do you need a dinosaur? Secondly, if this is the ultimate soldier, a winning bid of $28m seems a few billion off the mark. Have they ever seen the “Defence” budget?

He’s Coming to Get You…

The closing sequences of the film are utterly daft, with said monster tracking small child through an American “mansion” (one cannot escape thinking that this is designed with a theme park ride in mind) in the pouring rain, locating her bedroom, like something more out of Monsters Inc. Second (friendlier monster called “Blue” saves the day, thrusting beast onto the magnificent ancient remains of triceratops skull. The ancient overcomes the new. Girl then exposed as being a work of genetic magic herself, then releases remaining captive dinosaurs into the local community, who we are now told will have to co-exist and live with the consequences. Well, its about as daft as some of the political waffle that we all see on “the news” in its various forms.

Behavioural Issues

The monsters are arguably within us all, some are more obvious – displaying their basic qualities and frenzied outbursts, be that on twitter, Question Time or perhaps in a local IKEA store, the local pub, the centre of London or lurking in the shadows quietly moving the pieces into place as less regard for life and communal harmony become evident. There are moments when I despair, yet continue to live in the hope that civility, fairness and peace will eventually triumph, which first has to start with my own behaviour.

So the financial lesson – investor behaviour will make or ruin you. Following the crowd, being led by the noise, “everyone is doing it” intoxicated by the illusion of not needing to think will be a quick and painful way to watch your money flee to a new home. Know what and who you are dealing with, don’t mess with the cages, just because you can, does not mean you should.

Here is the trailer for the movie Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom.

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

Monsters and Men: Jurassic World – Fallen Kingdom2018-07-09T11:35:12+00:00

First Reformed

First Reformed – a Phone Call from God

One of the benefits of being in London is that there is a lot going on. As you probably know, I love the arts and so attending the London Sundance Film Festival is something that I now do when possible. On Friday evening I had the good fortune to see First Reformed, it was a special screening with Ethan Hawke, (who most will remember as Todd from 1989 Dead Poets Society) introducing and discussing the film by Paul Schrader who turns 72 in July and continues to make movies.

Schrader is a writer and Director, somewhat controversial with scripts from Taxi Driver, Obsession, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ and Mosquito Coast to name a few. This new film is a powerful story about a former soldier, now clergyman coming to terms with some very difficult truths within a complex world.

The Activist Struggle

On the one hand it is a response to the feelings around the collective denial about the scale of the environmental problem that we all face. The story centres around May (Amanda Seyfried) and Michael (Philip Ettinger) who are expecting their first child. As environmental activists Michael despairs at the prospect of bringing a child into a doomed world. Toller (Ethan Hawke) provides counsel and comforts them as they struggle.

Toller has his own struggles, his own family military traditions resulted in him encouraging his own son to enlist, who was subsequently killed, resulting in his own marriage collapsing. This appears to have thrown him into church life and he is given a tiny, historic church with a congregation to match, in stark contrast to the business-like operation “Abundant Life” who have all the advantages that size brings in the form of resources but lack the one meaningful element of intimate connection.

Tradition, Honour, Discpline your Excellence..

The story explores ideas about authority, leadership and tradition set against a backdrop that requires much more thoughtful responses and integration of ethics. Money, greed and avoiding seeing what is discomforting all posed as the “proper” way. There are deep challenges to the American way of life within this film, as there are in Taxi Driver and other Schrader movies. A deep sense of injustice and a desperation to restore the balance of power reside at the heart of this dark tale.

We all have out blind spots. Sometimes these are helpful, they may even enable us to function. However, on occasion we must address difficult subjects and make some changes – hopefully, changes in our actions that are harming our own and only environment can be made in time to spare us from our folly. There are lots of reasons to he hopeful in life, but this movie reminds us of the challenge and perhaps a nagging feeling that there, but for the grace of God…

I did not like the ending at all. It was evidently written by a man, there is a bit when May, a heavily pregnant woman, finds a form of bliss in that awful Terrence Malick kind of way. I will not spoil it for you, but it didn’t work for me, the rest of the film was rather good until that last moment, but then, perhaps that is entirely the point. We all get to make choices each day about our behaviour – whether to recycle or to pollute. In a similar way, each day we get to choose, whether to plan for our future or ignore it yet again. Time waits for no one and ultimately, we will have to live with the consequences of our actions.

First Reformed is due to be released in the UK later this year. Here is the trailer and it may well be one of Hawke’s best to date.

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

First Reformed2018-06-04T15:50:43+00:00

How The Light Gets In

How the Light Gets In

My Bank Holiday weekend was spent in Hay on Wye, not for the literary festival, but for the parallel festival – How the Light Gets In. It’s a festival run by the Institute of Arts and Ideas, primarily discussing and debating philosophy, economics, power and art. This year the agenda was packed with some excellent speakers, many of whom should ruffle feathers and rattle cages. In essence to inspire thoughtfulness.

One of the talks that has remained with me most was from Kwame Anthony Appiah, who delivered the 2016 Reith lectures. He is a professor of Philosophy and Law. He made the case against meritocracy, something that I had previously imagined and understood to be a fairer system, whereby effort is rewarded in life, rather than where and to whom you are born. He fairly quickly dismantled my perhaps, lazy views with sound argument. In particular the way that parents, at least most of them, are prone to a natural tendency to give their own children every advantage possible (understandably).

Fairness and Merit

If we are to have a fairer society, (I am not naïve enough to believe we are likely to achieve a fair one) then these issues need consideration. The suggestion that money is earned and deserved for hard work is fairly common, but of course it is commonly inaccurate. No doubt many work hard and are rewarded well, financially. However, many work very hard (provision of labour) perhaps working 3 jobs and this is of course, not rewarded in anything like the same measure. We know this, yet ignore it, basically telling ourselves that this is life, perhaps we are smarter and able to employ our minds rather than our bodies, or that we are rewarded for the value we add, not the functions we do. In practice it is of little comfort as an explanation and does nothing to redress imbalance.

Natural Bias

Inheritance tax is arguably one way to test if you believe in meritocracy. If you were unable to pass on wealth, your offspring would not have the advantage of a capital sum to help them. Yet hardly anyone likes inheritance tax, it feels very much like the last kick to the stomach from a system that has already taken what feels like more than its share of tax, without suffering the indignity of further taxes for dying. Yet any sense of meritocracy surely dies upon receipt of legacy. Note I am not arguing for 100% inheritance tax, merely pointing out that most of us have a sense of fair play, that is perhaps not as fair as we may wish to think… which of course is a matter of opinion.

Appiah was not suggesting we introduce such taxes, indeed he pointed to the reality of luck, chance and time. Mozart’s gifts would have been useless in a society that only possessed a drum. Einstein would have failed in a culture of wall paintings. The point, perhaps is that we forget our great good fortune, genetic, historical, familial and financial, all of which have a significant effect on our own “success” which may have relatively little to do with who we really are. There are countless other possible lives we could have lived had circumstances been rather different, something captured rather well in a recent episode of Legion.

Versions of You

As I build a financial plan for a client, we consider many possible versions of the future, goals, dreams, desires, hopes… whatever, but essentially yours. The reality we must all face is that when it comes to the future, we have to start with where we are, we have options (many) whatever our chosen course, which may well alter, we have to actually start the journey, not wait for it to arrive.

Oh, if you are interested, How the Light Gets In announced a London event on 22-23 September, to be held at Kenwood House, should you wish to check it out for yourself…. click here for more.

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

How The Light Gets In2018-06-04T15:58:41+00:00

Mood Music

Mood Music

There is a rather wonderful new play in town – Mood Music. It is a must see (or must read) for any budding musician, attempting to start a career, with exacting performances from a cast, presented with a script and characters to really embody. They do so at the Old Vic and I wonder if this is perhaps something of a statement about a previous head of all things, now exposed for aspects of his behaviour, perhaps I am reading too much into things..

Ownership

Mood Music explores the blatant abuse of power and use of young women in particular. The tensions, contradictions and hunger for validation. This is a timely play if nothing else, but something else it certainly is. A wickedly brilliant insight into the mind of a psychopath, a man detached from any sense of responsibility, guilt or shame. We get to see the workings of some brilliant therapists, whose laser-like precision on identifying root causes, the projections and transferences are dismissed as fraudulent by one who is desperately wrestling with her own sense of fraudulence and by another who merely toys with words that simply have no meaning, where everything is blurred.

The music industry is rife with the scenario portrayed in the play, yet we are also reminded that it exists in all walks of life. It seems that hardly a week passes without yet another “great” being exposed for their very base, flawed behaviours. The media which brought fame and success is now a very real double-edged sword, or perhaps more accurately providing a new meaning to double exposure.

Financial services is yet another sector that is largely run by psychopaths. This is perhaps why the regulatory punishments that are handed out have, for very large businesses (Banks) made such little difference. The penalty is invariably worth the short-term gain and one thing that seems reliable is the investors short-term memory (we tend to forget how badly some have behaved) and general inertia (we don’t move our accounts).

Still not enacting the Kill Clause

I recently came across a mailing from a large bank, that over the years has been in hot water on a regular basis, yet even now, with their charges in black and white, almost clear, there is a sense that even this will not be enough to motivate investors to leave. I wonder if this is so do with behavioural economics – an unwillingness to admit error and move on, hoping, despite the historic evidence that this time will be different. Well, today is different, just like every other day. Little actually changes.

The systems that support the vampire-like tendencies of those “in charge” threaten the well-being of us all, not because they go unpunished, but because they simply do not care. Detached from the real life of ordinary people, money becomes a game where scores are kept without any conscience or awareness of what the point is.

As for Mood Music, catch it at The Old Vic. Fantastic performances by all the cast, notably Ben Chaplin and it runs until 16 June. Some quite brilliant lines from playwright Joe Penhall.

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

Mood Music2018-06-04T15:55:45+00:00

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

Slammed2018-05-21T14:54:55+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

Honesty… maybe better than you think2018-05-14T15:41:48+00:00

Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross

The 1984 play by David Mamet opened in London last week. I had seen the 1992 film but had not the play. They are certainly different. To my mind the characters in the film generated more sympathy than those in the play. Whatever your view, the performances are strong, but perhaps not as strong as the language which is about as “locker room” as you can get, as clashing egos and dysfunctional ideas about masculinity are spat across the space between characters.

These are “men” that have a fluid understanding of truth, it seems that they believe that it serves their purpose to be economical with the truth. Selling whatever they can for as much as they can to whomever they can. We are all probably familiar with the hard sell and yet despite it being largely frowned upon here in Britain, we are all still regularly blitzed by people trying to grab our attention. This week I’ve had the customary junk emails, a few text messages and a call or two about an accident that wasn’t my fault and never happened. Selling, sadly, is a regular bedfellow of scamming.

Always Closing

Anyone in business will recognise the constant problem of attracting and obtaining new customers. Those that provide a particular product may only ever sell it once, as opposed to those that sell a service. It is telling that in the play, none of the characters really possess much by way of a sense of ethics. Sadly this is nothing new and of course the notion of hypocrisy (at best) lying (at worst) is familiar in almost any sector of society and unique to none. To the salesman (person) the enquiry or “lead” is their opportunity to close a sale. However bad or unethical selling can only lead to a failed business and one that closes.

A Brood of Vipers

I have never really understood those that knowingly and deliberately lie in order to make a sale. Financial services (my sector) is of course one where many sharks and charlatans have resided. Life may be harder for them now, but invariably they exist and find a way to part people from their money with apparent ease. Some “advisers” often refer to the “good old days” of financial services, by which they mean earning a commission for selling products. It may interest you to know that back in those good old days there were about 250,000 people selling financial products, primarily in person, often at your doorstep. Today there are around 25,000 authorised individuals who are able to provide advice and arrange “stuff”. Of those probably no more than 5,000 are financial planners, who, like me, don’t need to arrange “stuff” to get paid and provide a valuable service to clients, but of course most of us will arrange investments and the like as required.

Money Interest

Money is invariably the barrier to an honest conversation. In 2013 after much mucking around the regulator of the day banned most forms of commission (note I started the firm in 1999 completely removing commission). In January 2018 the rules will be taken to a higher level due to a European agreement (MIFID2). This will mean advisers and product providers need to be crystal clear about their charges and agree terms for their service. This is coming from a sensible, laudable intention of protecting investors, unfortunately I can see very few benefits at this stage, at least for those that are already provided with a costed and agreed service, as our clients are. If anything, people are more likely to make more bad decisions, focussed on cost rather than value. One of the new rules is quarterly valuations and prompt/immediate notification if a portfolio falls by 10%. These sort of actions tend to panic investors and shift their focus to the short-term rather than the long-term benefits of disciplined investing and having a proper financial plan.

Unintended Consequences… again

Your in-boxes will become fuller of correspondence, which will in turn lead to either inertia or anxiety, perhaps both. This is likely to be followed by the current serpent de jour, dressed as a helpful paramedic, but actually seeking to suck a pint of blood or two for themselves – the ambulance chasers will find some way to bombard you and convince some, many perhaps that their portfolio will only ever rise and if it doesn’t or didn’t, please take a ticket and join the queue for those seeking remedy or the fantasy of one. To my mind the equivalent of worrying that an egg was broken when the intention is to make an omelette. If I’m sounding fed up or perhaps “aggressive” this is because, well I am certainly tired of pointless changes, but equally aware that we will need to do more work, for no benefit, which will result in higher costs and fees, which will inevitably be passed on to clients. It won’t really deter the liars or crooks, perhaps it will make like marginally harder, but those are people that never play by the rules and would never offer you anything of value.

As for the play, well it’s on in London near Embankment tube. It has not been updated (if it has I cannot see where). It has contains some very uncomfortable language – racism and sexism which jar and are not helpful to the underlying message of the play. Of course it deals with bigger topics such as the dog-eat-dog world that forms of capitalism create, where collaboration isn’t in evidence, but rather ruining your peers helps your own cause. Starring Christian Slater, Kris Marshall, Oliver Ryan and Don Warrington to name a few. Get your tickets here – (warning – very sweary!)

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

Glengarry Glen Ross2017-10-31T18:57:10+00:00

Another Concerning Survey

Another Concerning Survey

If you have followed me for any reasonable time, you will have gathered that I am fairly suspicious about surveys and opinion polls, primarily due to the very small sample sizes and the eagerness to extrapolate data from, well, frankly not very much.

That said, yet another survey has revealed more of the problems that, if correct, are concerning for the country. Paymentsense (a card payment service) clearly have an insight into how people spend money. They surveyed 1000 people last month (July 2017) of all ages, whether this is a truly representative sample… well, it won’t be. However, the findings are certainly of concern.

30% of UK Have No Savings

Firstly 30% have no savings at all for a “rainy day”. Of those that had savings 21% used them for a holiday and only 17% put savings towards their retirement. Here is where I also have an issue with the line of questioning (which is unclear from what I have seen) but this could have been interpreted as using cash deposits to add to a pension (into which they may already be saving). Some people may of course be already retired and have no purpose in “saving for retirement”. In any event, a pension would be what springs to mind when asked about saving for retirement, but of course there are a huge number of ways to invest into something which will ultimately provide an income and/or capital.

Nothing in reserve?

However, the headline grabbing figure is really the extrapolation of the data. This leads to the conclusion that some 45.5m people have less than one month’s salary set aside in “savings”. The population is now an estimated 65.6m, which obviously includes children, pensioners and anyone simply unable to work and “earn” income. The current “unemployment” rate is 4.4% (for 16-64 year-olds). In short, a significant economic blip would be likely to cause significant hardship for a lot of people if they lost their income for whatever reason.

Signs of uncertainty shown in house sales

As Government continue with plans to leave the EU and a growing awareness of the likely implications for UK jobs, it would appear logical to be concerned. Hence the property market isn’t exactly booming, but property prices do continue to rise (4.9% over 12 months to June 2017) according to the Land Registry, however the number of sales continues to fall from 98,152 in August 2016 to 69,545 in April 2017. As a matter of note, the lowest number of house sales was in 32,752 in January 2009. The highest was June 2006 with 153,465 (for all the UK). If it is of interest, over the last 20 years, the average property in the UK was £65,092 in August 1997 and now stands at £223,257 (June 2017).

If you like short animated films, then Borrowed Time is a delightful one and a powerful message. Here is the trailer (almost as long as 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

Another Concerning Survey2017-08-16T10:40:54+00:00