THE BUDGET 11 MARCH 2020

TODAY’S BLOG

THE BUDGET 11 MARCH 2020

In order to save you time, I watched the Budget and even had a neat little animated logo designed for the occasion. Prior to the Budget I had hopes of some significant pension reforms – to simplify pensions whilst also hoping for the possibility of a fairer tax system, which means different things to different people – I would probably settle for a more straight-forward one.

In fairness to Rishi Sunak, becoming Chancellor when he did must have felt rather like a “hospital pass”. By which I mean a term used in rugby, where you are passed the ball so that you are the last one to face some enormous opponent who will surely flatten you and send you to hospital for treatment.

As he prepared for his Budget, we were all aware of the gathering momentum of “coronavirus” and the global collapse of the stock markets as investors seem unable to comprehend the impact on trade and the current oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. No small matters and certainly sufficient to cause significant “alarm”.

The Budget

INCOME TAX

Rates remained unchanged – so depending on whether you are a glass half empty or half full, if you allow for inflation, that’s worse, but better than an increase.

  • Personal Allowance: £12,500
  • Basic rate (20%) on the next £37,500
  • Higher rate (40%) on income up to £150,000 (but loss of personal allowance at £100,000 ars previously)
  • Additional rate (45%) on income over £150,000

The only allowance to improve marginally was Capital Gains tax (increased from £12,000 to £12,300), which will be of little comfort today.

PENSIONS

The Lifetime Allowance has increased by inflation to £1,073,100. The precision of this number speaks volumes of the Treasury’s desire to collect every penny.

Anyone earning over £300,000 can only contribute £4,000 to a pension (including employer payments). Otherwise, some relief for Hospital Consultants as the Tapered Annual Allowance was inflated by £90,000 to impact those with incomes over £240,000. This keeps tax calculations complex and required, but likely to kill off public sympathy for the cause to simply abolish the Tapered Annual Allowance. If you really don’t understand this, it probably doesn’t impact you.

ISAs

There remain at a very healthy £20,000 of tax-free growth and tax-free income when withdrawn, unlike a pension which has tax relief and provides taxable income. This also tells you something about the Treasury.

A Junior ISA (JISA) has been greatly increased to allow for a significant £9,000 into a JISA each tax year from 2020/21. No real benefit for adults, but of course a bit of a nod to those funding University. Though this could turn into a large fund over time and some thought ought to be given to how most 18 year-olds handle money.

INHERITANCE TAX

No changes

BUSINESS OWNERS

Those wishing to sell a business that they built will now have much higher taxes to pay on sale as entrepreneurs’ relief was slashed. The 10% tax rate on sale of a business still applies but only on the first £1m rather than the first £10m. That idea that your business is your pension… well, think again the new allowance is lower than the Lifetime Allowance.

CORONAVIRUS – CORVID19

Various special measures have been “initiated” to enable people to have some form of basic minimum income (statutory sick pay) from first signs of illness and self-isolation. This is an attempt to head off concerns that those needing to earn cannot afford to be ill and therefore continue to pose a “threat” to the rest of us. Whether it works remains to be seen – I suspect call centres will be jammed for some time.

As far as I can tell today, a few things are in short supply and probably more expensive than a week ago – toilet paper, hand sanitiser and wisdom.

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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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 BUDGET 11 MARCH 20202020-03-12T16:59:07+00:00

Elle

Elle

There are few films that I have seen that are as disturbing as Elle. Yet is it also a wonderful movie that I’d encourage anyone (over 16) to see. Arguably this is one of the most reflective tales of the current societal state of disassociation, but reduced to the sketches of the personal life of Michele Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert). I might go a little further to suggest that there is arguably a little too much thrown into the film, but that all rather depends on how you interpret.

Make no mistake, this is a traumatic movie. It begins with a rape scene which sets the story in motion and how the viewer reacts to this and the subsequent information. The setting of a severely dysfunctional family provides the context for the series of choices that emerge. There is no attempt to explain or pacify the viewer. This is a harsh, brutal look at “real life” and contemporary life.

A day of signficant trauma

I am conscious of tension that I really don’t want to spoil the film for you, yet wish to convey some of the plot. What is explained is that Michele is the daughter of a devout Catholic man who had managed to repress some of horrific feelings, which are then released in a day of carnage in her childhood and her mass murdering father is imprisoned. There are no explanations or justifications. What follows is assumed to be built upon the backlash of hatred towards the family. It is this trauma upon which Michele gradually builds her life. Relationships are inevitably strained and detached.

This virtual reality

In many respects, what we accept as normal, or ordinary without a questioning mind can leave us all somewhat detached from reality. It also leaves us poorer within a context that could be so much better. This is not a film about victim mentality, but of passive, detached voyeurism. Whether that be the obviously disturbing video game violence or the inability to value relationship. A religious persona that masks deep violence and crime against other. A simple a lack of honesty or inability to take responsibility, all the while soothed by a plethora of cute cat videos and nice cars. We are the sum of our choices.

The sum of your choices

So, what on earth has this to do with financial planning? I would argue that your choices are significant. A choice to do nothing is still a choice. People worry about money, but do little to address those concerns, making the choice to defer, to delay. Time is against us. It is the one resource that we all have equally today. The choices you are making compound into a result. Financial planning provides the space and opportunity for you to reflect on what you genuinely value, to challenge your own thinking and the narrative of our consumer culture. However, we all have a past, some have experienced awful traumas, this needs to be addressed if a better future is to be created. We all have limitations, but almost all have unlimited desires. A sense of peace and direction can be achieved when these are identified thoughtfully and respectfully.

The lubricant of modern life

Many people are detached from their finances, seeing them merely as a necessary lubricant for getting through life. Yet finance is active, we invest globally. We know the power of money and the pain of not having enough. Money can be violent or it can bring respite and relief. Somehow a healthy balanced view towards money needs to be constructed by each of us, which can act as the map to get us where we really want to be. In short, to be engaged with your finances, your financial plan needs to reflect your values – the real ones, some of which may be painful.

Here is the trailer for this very good, but disturbing movie, which has collected several awards and for which Isabelle Huppert is nominated for an Oscar as Best Leading Actress.

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

Elle2017-02-21T12:23:43+00:00

Delicious

Delicious

I wonder if you have seen a new Sky 4-part mini series starring Dawn French, Emilia Fox and Iain Glen called “Delicious”. I don’t think I’m giving too much away by saying that it is the story of an apparently successful, once divorced remarried chef, who has an affair with his first wife, who it turns out is the real culinary genius.

Like most good stories, the drama of ordinary lives holds our attention when under the scrutiny of dramatic pressures. The series exposes the problems beneath a beautiful façade of a middle-class life. Set on the idyllic banks of the Tamar river, an entrepreneurial temple of hotelier cuisine is the bling that diverts the eye from seeing what needs to be seen.

Just below the surface

There is an understandable and customary dig at middle-aged men but with a twist on the usual, predictable affair with a younger model, with Leo attempting to have his cake and eat it. A setting of fine dining, lends itself to the customary style over substance debate and of course the market price of every thing.

Wood for the trees

From a financial planning point of view there are numerous warnings that I would hope business owners can heed. One of the problems that business owners, or indeed anyone has, is that they are often too close to the problems to be able to see them clearly, let alone any workable solutions. It is certainly hard to fathom how any decent financial planner could not draw attention to what is revealed within the plot (which I shall not spoil).

Virtually reality?

One of the most popular criticisms of social medial is that it has encouraged us to live false lives, like those contained within magazines, or indeed within television or film. Whilst I’m sure this has some truth and resonance, this all rather depends upon each of our ability to be truthful, yet mindful of impact, timing and social etiquette.  There is nothing new about attempting to be something you are not, which is perhaps one of the oldest dramatic tools.

The truth can be painful

Of course, not everyone wants to see or hear the truth, particularly when it is going to require some change. I sometimes wonder if this is what puts most of population off from seeking financial advice. Deep down most of us know that we need to master our money lest it master us. A financial plan is designed based around your values, grounded in truth and enables you to see ahead to any potential “surprises”. In essence making sure your plans for style have substance.

Here’s the trailer for the series on Sky.

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

Delicious2017-01-27T11:11:25+00:00

Business Owners Beware

Business Owners and Employees Beware

Business Owners and Employees need to be aware of fraud that could cost a business its existence. Technology is fantastic, it enables us all to do things much more quickly and also opens up so many new opportunities. However, we all know it is a double-edged sword which can work against us. I imagine that everyone with an email address has had some form of email scam or fraud – everything from the rather obvious “I need you to help part $X million in your account and will pay you a share” to much more sophisticated scams.

The real problem is that in a world where you make purchases all the time from people and businesses that you have never “met” invariably this reduces your ability to spot a scam. There is an interesting story on the BBC website about how the Accountant to a business was pressured into sending €500,000 from one of their clients’ accounts. On the surface it seemed legitimate, but thankfully was caught.

Time Pressure

Often fraudsters will use the pressure of time for a deal or lost opportunity (increasingly common in many marketing campaigns as it is). However, some firms produce lots of information – for example online diaries, showing when people are available (capitalising on times when they are unavailable). So a sense check is often the first thing you should do. Where money is concerned, a good financial planner is someone that you will have a trusted relationship with. So he or she should have a pretty good idea about your plans – assuming that you provide information honestly and that suitable questions have been asked.

In the case the BBC highlight, the Accountant was informed that the money was to be used to buy a business in Cyprus. One would hope that the business would have discussed such a plan with the Accountant in advance (if true) so it would not be something out of the blue. Similarly, a financial planner, really should have a good idea of when you might need money – for school fees, a wedding, a property purchase and so on. In practice few expenses should be a “surprise”. This relationship is likely to mean that fraud can be spotted more easily, but in no way guarantees it.

Anyway, be mindful that anyone that has access to any of your accounts – business or personal might unknowingly sign off something believing it to be true. You are responsible for your accounts and need to ensure that you have a process to sense check financial transactions. Here is the BBC item. Click here to see.

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

Business Owners Beware2017-01-27T10:56:10+00:00

Experience of a Lifetime

Experience of a lifetime

Well, here we are in December. The world remains in a state of anxiety about a plethora of challenges and even here in Britain, many are suffering from the weather conditions which make for a difficult Christmas.

Christmas reminds me of many things, the nagging feeling that Christmas seems to have arrived quickly and that time is moving along all too rapidly. Whilst many are struggling simply to find shelter this Christmas, much like the central characters in the nativity story, I am reminded how harsh life can be for many people and how quickly circumstances can change. 2015 has certainly had more than its share of crisis and disaster.

Whilst our media and deep mid-Winter are full of bleakness, I remain thankful that I live in the relative safety of Britain, despite all our problems. Yet I am also reminded that life is indeed short and there are still many places that I’d like to see and things I wish to “witness”. Apart from the usual trappings, the Christmas break is also an opportunity to reflect on the coming year, for many this will include planning your next holiday, perhaps one from your bucket list?

 

Trip of a Lifetime

One of my clients runs a boutique travel business and it occurred to me that there are a number of similarities in what we do. There are certainly lots of questions about where you want to go and importantly an independent mindset that is able to put together suitable great experience. What I had not appreciated was that it actually costs the same amount whether you use the expertise or not. I have certainly used the web to book holidays in the past, spending hours, trawling through endless options, but simply had not appreciated that someone else could do this for me, an expert, and it wouldn’t cost any more!

Mercator Travel have several brands which they use to focus their expertise on specific regions of the world. For example, south or central America is currently a great destination for those seeking something memorable and rather different. If you are anything like me, I have forgotten what I gave and received last Christmas, yet I never forget holiday experiences.

As a boutique business, they place great emphasis on creating a wonderful experience and getting all the little details right. Apart from ensuring that your trip is planned perfectly, the business is built around providing a top drawer service, with the aim, like every good business of creating a great reputation and clients that return. So if you are considering a great trip in 2016 may I suggest that you check out a couple of their websites.

Just in case you think there’s something in it for me – there isn’t. I am interested in helping all of  our clients, profiling those that run small independent businesses and of course those wishing to get more from life with a lot less hassle. Do give them a call on 01932 424252.

Postcards from the Edge…

Financial planning isn’t meant to be dull, its about your life and helping you to figure out what you want from it. This is often difficult for most people to verbalise, there’s something within our British-ness that makes most of us reluctant to express this. How you spend and give your money is one of our freedoms and invariably for the vast majority there is often an unspoken connection of shared experiences and a sense of purpose just beneath the surface. There is little point in building up wealth if you don’t get to use it.

One of my peers shared an idea with me that he finds works well with his clients. He asks them to send him a postcard from wherever they have been. He displays these in a book in his reception. The idea being that there is a huge variety of clients and the places they visit yet all share the freedom to enjoy some of the money that they have worked hard to save. He gets lots saying “enjoying spending the inheritance… pension” or whatever. The point being that financial planning when done well brings the freedom to make empowered financial decisions – many of them are a lot of fun. So perhaps I will ask you to do this in 2016 as well.

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

Experience of a Lifetime2017-01-06T14:39:21+00:00

Becoming Tribal

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Becoming Tribal

I have been experiencing the promise of a great solution to improve what it is that we do for our clients, and how to attract more of the right sort of clients. At this point in my use of and experience with the new software, I am finding that I am, what Richard Tripp calls, becoming tribal.

I have read hundreds of books about entrepreneurialism, business and leadership.In fact its probably what I spend the most amount of time in my personal development outside of my immediate discipline as a financial planner. This is in part because I love business, to some people that sounds weird, but others of you will get it. I love seeing businesses thrive, creating jobs and value. I have always been interested in entrepreneurialism and business, which is why I did a Business Studies Degree after school, though frankly it was not the experience that I had hoped it would be. Unfortunately it wasn’t the right fit for me at the time, over the 4-year sandwich course, I enjoyed no more than a handful of lectures and the most memorable was about design, by someone who wasn’t even part of the Business School.

Anyhow, Richard Tripp has a great 30 minute video, highlighting the problems that many (probably most) businesses suffer from, which probably helps explain the high business failure rate. So if you are a business owner, or are planning to start one, have a look at his video. I’m not suggesting you sign up, but certainly have a look at www.povmethod.com

Dominic Thomas: Solomons

Becoming Tribal2017-01-06T14:39:35+00:00

Does your website need a redesign?

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Does your website need a redesign?

Most web pages include lots of “furniture”, such as branding, navigation, images, advertising and lists of other useful things you might want to look at. Indeed, when we land on a plain text web page we tend to think it is something from the dark ages of the early Internet. These days we expect colour, graphics, video, useful links and so on.

However, new research suggests this could all be working against us, as website owners.

Blinded by science?Blink

Neuroscientists at University College London have identified a phenomenon they are calling “load blindness” – the more information that we see, the more we don’t see it. This is a particular problem in certain professions such as being an airline pilot or a surgeon, where lots of visual information has to be processed. However, it is clearly also an issue for web pages.

What the researchers found was that when we are presented with lots of information in one go, our awareness for that information decreases. Indeed, the scientists found that the impact was the equivalent of turning the lights down to dim – we just can’t see as much.

The problem for web designers, though, is how do you include all the necessary information without leading to “load blindness”?

Information overload

When you only have a small amount of information presented, added extras lead to distraction. So if you design a simple web page with one banner advert, for instance, the advertisement distracts the visitor, leading to loss of attention on what you might be wanting them to read. However, if you overload the page with extra “furniture” the distraction level appears to drop – therefore suggesting that you might get more engagement. But this new study suggests the opposite – it implies that your visitors don’t actually see as much as you think they do. The overload of information is effectively closing their eyes to what you want them to see.

What this study is really suggesting to us as website owners is that we need to think carefully about the pages we produce. Too little visual information can lead to distraction, too much visual information can lead to load blindness. Either way, many web pages could be getting traffic, but not actually having the required impact. It could explain why bounce rates are so high, on average; people simply do not see anything when they land on the pages because there is too much to see.

It is not the extent of the information that is the problem – you can have web pages with thousands of words on them. It is the amount of visual information that can be seen in a glance that is the issue. Too much “furniture” on your web pages could mean that people simply do not see what you want them to see.

Graham Jones

Does your website need a redesign?2017-01-06T14:39:37+00:00

Adapt or die – warnings of an online world

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Today Graham pulls no punches as he outlines the need for businesses to have a proper strategy for utilising new technology fully or face the plight of those that didn’t adapt quickly enough, such as Kodak or Polaroid.

Most businesses could collapse in the next decadeadaptation

Let’s face facts: the digital world is fundamental to all businesses. Even if you sell offline or operate mainly in the “real world”, the digital world has an impact on your business. Whether it is for communications, such as email, or as a starting point for buyers researching your business, the Internet is central to customers.

The problem is that most businesses themselves use the Internet as a “nice-to-have” and not as central to their business. When I speak to Chief Executives and point out this difference they nod their heads in agreement. But then they say it is “impossible” to change their business to focus on the Internet because it would involve too much change.

Now, though, they are in for a shock. The highly respected consultancy firm Forrester has said that unless businesses make this change they will “face an extinction event” within the next decade.

forresterdigitalgraph

They are saying this because their latest research shows that only 21% of companies have a clear vision for the future use of digital within their business. That’s in spite of 90% of firms agreeing that digital will revolutionise their sector within the next 12 months….! And they are not the only consultants sounding the warning bell – just three months ago Capgemini published their own research suggesting that businesses simply have to make the Internet central to their company, regardless of their sector or industry.

According to Forrester, businesses are now just “bolting on” the Internet to their existing business structures. But what is required, they say, is a complete “re-set” – a fundamental shift in the way businesses are structured and run. Business leaders I meet are totally unprepared to do this because of the seismic shift required. Yet the warning from Forrester is stark: do it or die.

When you look at successful businesses online they are mostly businesses which focus their firm on the Internet – Google, Facebook, Amazon for instance. But it is not just technology-based companies like these online startups which have embraced digital as central to their business. Back in 2012 Starbucks transformed itself into a digital centric company.

Business leaders, used to a non-digital world, find it hard to make the transformation necessary. So, what is the solution? The first step must surely be to conduct an immediate review of the kinds of people setting strategy and plans for your company. The data from Forrester and Capgemini both point to the need to use the services of those “digital natives” in central roles in your company. The future of your business could well depend upon giving the strategic reins to your grandchildren.

Graham Jones

Adapt or die – warnings of an online world2017-01-06T14:39:39+00:00

Business owners heed lessons from online retail

Solomons-financial-advisor-guest-blogger-G-Jones

Graham Jones is a man that knows a thing or two about the web and our relationship with it. He is an internet psychologist with a lot of useful insights, in particular for those that own or run a business in the UK. Here is his latest piece to get business owners thinking – which includes me. So let me know how I can help you too.

Business owners heed lessons from online retail

Where do you go to buy things these days? The chances are you use a variety of sources – local shops, out-of-town retail parks, town-based shopping centres and, of course, the Internet. However, increasing amounts of evidence show that the starting point for our purchases is the web, with Google being our “number one” place to go to start our shopping journey.

webshopping

The latest piece of research comes from the incentives company, Parago. They found that the majority of shoppers begin their decisions about what to buy on the web. It means that if you are not using your website as central to selling, you are missing out – big time. Only for groceries, building supplies and pet supplies do people choose a retail store as the first port of call – though second on the list is either Google or Amazon for those shoppers.

But look deeper into the figures. They show that your products and services need to be found on Google – but that you also need to be on Amazon and have your own retail website too, if you are to pick up the most shoppers. Indeed, even for subscription services, people prefer to look for you on Amazon than in social media.

The study also found that the time taken to buy something is now down to 2.25 days. That suggests that if you don’t follow-up website visitors immediately, then you are losing out on sales because the decision to buy will have already been made if you wait more than a day or two to contact people.

In other words, to sell these days you have to be fast and you must have the web as central to your sales process.

Graham Jones

Business owners heed lessons from online retail2017-01-06T14:39:39+00:00

Finanical Planning for Business Owners

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Financial Planning for Business Owners

Every business has its ups and downs… well maybe there are a few exceptions, but it seems a fair generalisation. There are lots of reasons for running a business, but “simply for the fun of it”, is not a sustainable approach as most businesses drain the owners of time, energy and money. There may be (and hopefully there is) a really valuable service or product being provided through the business – after all that’s what will make it successful. This invariably is based on a conviction and passion about serving a particular need in life, not everyone’s but certainly a “target audience”. So a business can have many valid merits and virtues. However it also needs to work for the owner and many business owners forget that it needs to serve them too. Indeed I would argue that it needs to serve them first, if it doesn’t it is unlikely to be sustainable and therefore end up serving nobody. Whilst customers don’t wish to be taken advantage of, the sensible ones know that a healthy business is far better than one on its knees, struggling to survive; it inspires confidence for future service and reliability.

What is your why?

Business owners therefore need to think through what they really want out of the business. This may change over time, it probably will. Importantly though, you need to pay yourself before everyone else. This doesn’t mean being greedy, it means ensuring that you aren’t left with, well… what’s left. The principal of “pay yourself first” is well established and most employees will be familiar with it. You get a salary and then your bills are paid.. but noting that someone else gets paid at the same time – your State pension (NI) and the taxman – who clocked on many years ago that being paid first, each month is a reliable way to secure that payments arrive.

Business Owners have far more options

However, for the business owner it goes deeper. Paying yourself first also includes money for the future – such as a pension pot. This shouldn’t be left as a last expense, but a first expense. I was working with a business owner this morning, who is building a successful company and gradually employing more staff, taking on new premises and so on. As with all business owners there are more options and solutions for great financial planning. Those we discussed today were never selling the business, but building it so that dividends can be paid until death, but with others (a good pair of hands) taking over the management at some stage (ideally well before “retirement”). Another option is to build a value into the business, so that someone else might want to buy it and figuring out, how much the after tax and sales costs the sum needs to be. Thirdly, simply get the company to pay into a pension scheme, a business cost and part of the owners remuneration. There are other options too, but great financial planning will outline the options, help quantify the figures and build a plan that achieves the right results, knowing what returns are needed. All in all, empowering business owners to look after themselves, so that they can look after their staff and their customers.

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

Finanical Planning for Business Owners2017-01-06T14:39:39+00:00
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