It’s A Wonderful Life

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

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


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

What we fail to clearly explain

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

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

That thing about honesty..

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

What if?…

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

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