TOO MANY COOKS

TODAY’S BLOG

TOO MANY COOKS

We have all heard the phrase – “too many cooks spoil the broth” well, I’m not sure it quite applies, but any assessment of the high street restaurant business will likely suggest that there are far too many restaurants. Rather sadly Jamie Oliver’s restaurant empire has had to call in the administrators. The business has been in difficulty for a while and it seems that the sword of Damocles has now fallen.

I’m rather sad about this news. I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but to me, Jamie Oliver always seemed like an honest, decent man, trying to make good and trying to change the lives of his staff, young people and to a greater or lesser extent the eating habits of the UK. I’ve enjoyed dining in many of his restaurants and had some special occasions at Fifteen in London and Cornwall.

JAMIE OLIVER GROUP SOLOMONS IFA BLOG

What’s on the menu?

The administrators will now attempt to salvage the business, though the restaurant business is particularly fickle with diners generally leaving once there are signs of trouble. It isn’t possible to tell if the business was run well or not, whether it was a sign of the times or over ambitious. We all know that Jamie’s culinary skills are rather good, and his brand is everywhere – or at least wherever cookery books and items are for sale. His fame and subsequent fortune all resulted from the initial “Naked Chef” series.

Running any business can be stressful at times, or even constantly. Running a large restaurant empire where control can quickly evaporate, is a stress that I certainly would not wish to take on. There are very few people that could. Jamie Oliver made a very good go of things, opening Fifteen, his first restaurant in 2002. He is only 44 and it has been an incredible 17 years. Many entrepreneurs can withstand major setbacks, but not all. I do hope that he manages to reflect on his accomplishments rather than the final “failure” once the last orders have finally been taken.

Sadly, lots of jobs are at risk, let’s hope that the administrators can get things back into shape. The Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group Ltd operates 25 restaurants across the UK, including 22 under Jamie’s Italian brand, in addition to Jamie Oliver’s Diner at Gatwick Airport, Barbecoa and Fifteen London.

Bookings at the Jamie Oliver Cookery school have been cancelled, gift vouchers for cookery school or restaurants and Groupon vouchers are being reviewed by the administrators, but in short, it doesn’t look good if you do and the use by date may become rather irrelevant. I for one hope that they manage to turn this around and that Jamie continues his relentless mission to help us all eat better. He has been a genuine inspiration to hundreds of jobless young people starting with his Fifteen restaurant in 2002. I wish him 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

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

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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TOO MANY COOKS2019-05-21T18:26:11+01:00

Investing in a Business

Investing in a Business

One of the ways that Government attempts to create jobs is to encourage and stimulate small businesses, start-ups or recently started businesses. The Prime Minister wants these to scale up, not simply start up. So as a regular investor (which in my world we call a retail investor) there are various ways that you are incentivized to be part of this wealth creation.

Tax effective incentives

Venture Capital Trusts, Enterprise Investment Schemes, Small Enterprise Investment Schemes are all such investment structures designed to encourage you (with tax incentives) to invest into new businesses. Generally, though not always the case, these would be businesses looking for money, to which traditional banks don’t, can’t or won’t lend. Since the credit crunch, despite the Government pouring billions into the system, most lending to small businesses has not increased. Indeed any chart on the topic would suggest that Banks are positively less than helpful.

A Different Approach

As we approach the end of the tax year, various specialist companies will produce offers for these tax efficient investments. The rules for them are fairly complex, primarily because they  (the rules) seem to get changed each year. It would certainly be true to say that the degree of investment risk is generally much higher than say investing into most normal investment funds that track an index. As with most things, there are good and not so good and some downright awful. Despite being 3 or 5 year investments, in reality they are long-term investments, where the positive rewards may take some years to bear fruit, and as with almost every business, extracting money from them requires a carefully considered exit strategy and ideally several potential buyers.

The company you keep

In the latest Trainspotting film, (T2, which is a return to Edinburgh and the characters from 20 years ago) two of the characters (Renton and Simon) decide to have a proper go at running a “business”. Despite being “creative thinkers” and possessing “the gift of the gab” rather more is required to run a successful business.  Sadly, their skill set and personal focus do not lend themselves to a successful outcome. Some investors could be forgiven for thinking that the degree of risk being taken is similar to that of investing into non-mainstream investments. However the only thing in common is the capability of the management of the business. Good managers can turn a bad business around, but equally a good business can be ruined by bad management. We all know that there are some very unsavory characters in business, some even cross-over into politics. Trainspotting has a particularly nasty character. As is always the case, people are key. In this form of investing, it is certainly the case that a good business plan  requires a good management team to implement it.

Choose wisely

So (and here is where you imagine Ewan McGregor reading this) if you think that you might want to choose to invest in small businesses, choose to create jobs, choose wealth creation, choose something a bit different, choose a dose of tax relief, perhaps you should be thinking about choosing to invest into an EIS, SEIS or VCT. As with T2 it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, (or drug of choice).  Generally, you’ll need a minimum of £25,000 to invest. This is for those that do want to choose some of the companies that will make a mark on the next 20 years. Those that are comfortable with the risk. Those that are choosing to invest for the long-term and have a clear idea of what they are getting into. Then investing in businesses can provide a rewarding experience. But choose wisely. Here is the trailer for T2: Trainspotting.

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

Investing in a Business2017-02-02T13:21:49+00:00

Financial Planning in a Box

Financial Planning in a Box

It is easy to believe that the world is an unsafe place, full of people determined to do us harm or ill. We all know about the continuing extremism and acts of terror, but are increasingly aware that the answers provided by world leaders seem misguided at “best” and “just as bad” at worst. Politics is one way we tend to divide ourselves into camps of allegiance, yet this is simply one of many ways to put each other into a box, indeed perhaps your understanding of financial planning is in a box – or a certain type of box. Perhaps we could remember more about what we share alike than what differentiates us.

Tick Box Approach

Marketing is perhaps the ultimate tool for putting us all into a specific box and if this is done to identify who might benefit from a product or service, then there’s nothing that I can see that’s wrong with it. We might exclude ourselves or be excluded for good reason, the problems come when we are excluded without any valid reason. It ought to be win-win if I am excluded from the mailing list of skydiving weekly – I have no interest in skydiving and cannot believe that this would change. Those marketing skydiving courses or related products are not wasting their resources attempting to offer me great deals. That’s a win-win as far as I can tell.

Outside the Box… or how about a different box?

So, I was challenged and encouraged by a TV advert “All That We Share” from Denmark (and no I’m not on their mailing list either!). A friend shared it and it is a great reminder that the boxes we put each other in can vary enormously, yet the media (not all) and politicians (not all) seem intent on placing us into more limited, confrontational boxes. Its title might have a message for those of us that use social media too – what we share, how and to whom. Anyway, have a look for yourself.

The financial planning angle…

What has this to do with financial planning? Well very little – except to say that your financial plan should be about your life, your values and your future, not the things you think advisers want to hear (a yacht, fast car, enormous house and huge portfolio). These might have a place in your financial plan, but until we meet to discuss it, I’d rather assume nothing and wait to hear your story.

The right fit

So, when it comes to our own marketing, we are looking for people that we can help. That means – helping to improve, organise and structure what you have better, so that it works for you, saving you time, reducing anxiety and bringing about a sense of “peace of mind”. Obviously, we need paying, which means you need to have resources to do so, but its more than that – it’s also for people that are looking for a long-term professional relationship from which we can work on your plan together.

Anyhow, here is the video.

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

Financial Planning in a Box2017-01-30T13:19:14+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

More thoughts on Brexit

More thoughts on Brexit

I have spoken to a number of clients, all of whom expressed great sadness at the outcome of the EU referendum. I’m sure that some of our clients voted to leave for very good reasons (such as the EU being a huge bureaucracy that seems unwilling to change its ways). If you could cut through the bile of the media and politicians, then there was a debate to be had. Sadly, many are ill-informed about the actual issues, facts, experts, historical context and any sense of idea about what the impact really might be.

Many are still deeply distressed about the result, because it feels wrong. It feels as though something has been stolen from us all. Our nation, which is one of the most tolerant and safest places for anyone to live, has appeared to give the impression that we simply don’t care about others any more. We have had enough… “we want to take our country back”.

I am one of those that is deeply angry. At times, I have lost the internal conflict and said some things which probably doesn’t help. I apologise. I have been fed up that most of the commentary within my sector is written by white men, who are fairly wealthy and have little experience of racism in person and because they don’t see it, assume its not very bad.

Another stereotype – give me a badge

I am deeply concerned about the way that the far right appear to have been given permission to behave in a manner which feels like a threat to the core of this country, or what I think this country is. I have watched and read in dismay at stories and videos of some horrible incidents. There is an air of menace, interrogation and intimidation. As a large, bald, white male, sadly I appear to match the general stereotype of a thug. I feel the need to wear a badge that says the equivalent of “I didn’t vote for this, I don’t want you to leave, you are safe with me”. What I still fail to understand is why so few seem so unwilling to recognise that this was always the likely outcome. People that I respect and admire greatly, of all creeds and ethnicity.

I know full well that Westminster has condemned racist acts in the past, and did so again yesterday (Monday) but to be blunt, lots of white middle class men (largely) invariably move their lips to a soundtrack that seems at odds with their actions. However “good” a Prime Minister David Cameron has been (which is of course subjective) he was the one that agreed to run the referendum and its result has created this deep state of unease.

We have clients from all backgrounds. We have friends, colleagues and neighbours. Many are deeply worried for their future because of the newfound “courage” that fascists have been handed with a vote to “leave” for which they read – tell everyone to go (it seems). We have to stand up against this, not afterwards, but in the moment, during. If that is a frightening prospect, well that’s the practice of standing in another’s shoes and what it means to stand against racism.

Yes there is a reason…

I understand that most of these people are poor, often poorly educated, a product of their circumstances and if they are constantly told that they are worthless they tend to believe that lie until someone else, proclaiming nationalistic values, provides a form of antidote with a sense of identity. However this is no excuse, just an explanation.

So however you voted, the reasons why those of us that voted “remain” were invariably beyond the mere numbers of costs, economics and bureaucracy. We know that immigration needs careful controlling, we know that integration could and should be far better than it is. But we also know that we are all lucky to be born here, which is all it is, a random roll of the dice.

Business is more than money, its also community

Perhaps this is not the place to talk about “my feelings” after all, I run a business designed to serve you to make better financial decisions. However to be candid again, the financial planning I do, that works best is all about personal values – yours (and mine) and invariably the money is the least important bit. If my job is simply to protect your wealth, then frankly this is also a part of that.

and here is an oldie… The Power of One.

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

More thoughts on Brexit2017-01-06T14:39:15+00:00

A Matter of Life and Death

A matter of life and death

It is one of the strangest aspects of conversations that I have with clients. It gets stranger and perhaps more difficult the older they become. We have to talk about a matter of life and death.

In essence, when all is said and done, financial planning is about trying to ensure that your money does not run out before you die. So we need to have a conversation about when that might be. We don’t know the answer. Death is a daily part of life, yet something that most of us manage to avoid talking about.

The motivation behind the question is obviously to attempt to make money last long enough, however it is also designed to prompt thoughts about what is life about, what do you want from it during this brief sojourn on this wonderful planet?

Thoughts may turn too quickly to estate planning and reducing inheritance tax, rather than considering the true inheritance that is being left…. the memory and impact of .. well…you!

I might (will) point to the financial impact of your loss to those dependant upon you, be they family or your business, but we all know that its much bigger and deeper than that don’t we. So good financial planning can take care of financial loss, but great financial planning will hopefully remind and inspire you to ensure that you make the most of the life you have now.

Another way to view death – acceptance

A dear friend of mine, who has had more than her fair share of grief drew my attention to this short video about death (and life). It combines images from various films and words of Alan Watts. It is worth taking the 3 minutes to watch it.

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

A Matter of Life and Death2017-01-06T14:39:26+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

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

What is the best way to save for retirement? Part 5

Solomons-financial-advisor-wimbledon-top-bannerThis is part 5 in the series “What is the best way to save for retirement?”

Using a business as a pensionfamilybusiness

Many of you, most of you, won’t currently be running a business. You are not excluded from this option. If you view a business as a type of bank account you wont go far wrong. The issue is generating revenue and making profit. A major advantage that business owners have is that they can put many things through a company as expenses, such as cars, pension contributions and so on. There are rules. However a business owner of a Limited company has shares in the company which pay dividends. The amount of dividends paid out can be adjusted regularly. In essence many people in this scenario pay themselves a low salary (low enough to pay little or not tax and national insurance). The rest of their income is paid as dividends, which have a lower tax rate than employed or self-employed tax rates. Yes this is daft, but blame the Governments we elect and HMRC not me. True businesses pay corporation tax, but this is currently only 20% on the first £300,000 of profits and profit is after costs such as salaries.

Unleash the entrepreneur in you

Over the years your business  can build up cash, investments, property, goods, services and so on – even goodwill has a price. As the business owner your main objective is to run a successful business that provides the income you want. However the structure of the business should not be overlooked. You might sell the business upon retirement, but tax may be relatively small in this respect due to entrepreneur’s relief, where the first £10m of gains are only charged at 10% tax. Why? Because the Government believes that entrepreneurs create jobs and wealth, risking their own capital in the process in the pursuit of a “successful business”.

On track

However, keeping to our target of £20,000pa from age 65 a business is a shell into which any of the previously mentioned options (pension, portfolio, property) can be placed. Indeed one can place a commercial property into a pension owned by a business…with the pension charging rent to the business which is then paid back as pension contributions. All entirely legal, encouraged and workable in the right circumstances.

Setting aside various taxation issues, to achieve our goal, you need to have a business that generates £20,000 of profit a year. Whilst I wouldn’t wish to suggest that this is easy, is it as difficult as some would have us believe? £20,000 profit is £1,666 profit a month. The best business model is that of royalties. You do your work (say an album or book) and then it sells and sells. The royalties keep coming month after month for that work you did all those years ago. Now imagine that you have several “products” or services that achieve this. Anything from a design on a T-shirt to selling soap or widgets. A successful business is a money printing machine. However the biggest risk or blind spot that businesses face is failing to adapt.

Adapt or die?

In a world of rapidly evolving technology, this years best selling gadget is forgotten in 5 years. Technology is everywhere, not just in IT, in processes and systems. How you do business requires considerable thought. You are now probably not printing off your holiday snaps, or using a travel agent, or actually going to a Bank.. or…or… the world is changing and every business needs to adapt, that is the real risk to any and every business, however as an investment it can be ideal, provided that you only sell (if you do) when you don’t need to.

So I hope you will excuse me for not putting any numbers on this one, but it is a vehicle limited only by your imagination. However before we unleash your creativity, I think it best to blow your mind with some facts about that all very familiar but not well understood concept of inflation, which will challenge many of the numbers and assumptions that we have considered.

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

What is the best way to save for retirement? Part 52017-01-06T14:39:40+00:00

Business Owners – Fake Complaints

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Vicious Viral Email to Business Owners

If you are a business owner you may have received an email that appears to come from Companies House. The email suggests that a complaint has been made about your company. This is bogus. Companies House, whilst making use of webfiling services do not issue emails about complaints, which they, like you, take very seriously. Complaints against companies are always handled in writing when dealing with organisations such as Companies House. So the best advice is to simply delete the email – however be warned that you will get more. It is not clear what the intention is, be it placing trojan software into your computer or something else, perhaps as inane as wasting everyone’s time.Financial Planning for business owners

What if it wasn’t bogus?

Running your own business is a time consuming occupation and one that comes with many stresses, risks and rewards. However malicious the email, it does remind us all that taking the future well-being of your business for granted could be a little naive. Many business owners see their business as their pension, which may be entirely appropriate, but please remember some of the potential pitfalls – such as an inability to sell at the price you want, a radical change in your market, significant competition, timing and misfortune due to accurate (or otherwise) coverage of your business/sector/market in the media. Of course there is that insurance industry phobia – death or serious illness, that will or may prevent you from making decisions about your own business.

Plan your exit or exit your plan?

All of these issues can be addressed, as well as when you wish to finally leave the office. The best time to sell a business is always when you don’t need to. So if you are business owner or partner in a business, then it may be time for some proper planning to ensure your business works for you and not you for it.

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

Business Owners – Fake Complaints2017-01-06T14:39:46+00:00
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