KODACHROME

TODAY’S BLOG

KODACHROME

We’ve all probably watched more on television in the last 6 months than perhaps we have for many years. The other night I watched Kodachrome. I had reasonable hopes given the cast (Ed Harris, Jason Sudeikis, Elizabeth Olsen) and the plot, which was suggested as a father and son trip to get some final film developed at the last place to offer the service before closing. A sense of the now or never.

Famous photographer Ben Ryder (Harris) is at deaths door, much like his Kodak film slides. His relationship with his son Matt (Sudeikis) is also “mostly dead” rather like Kodak. At a crossroads or cul-de-sac (you decide) the two are reunited through contrived circumstance, on a journey together for different reasons. Ben to get 4 old rolls of film developed and Matt to get an interview, both with the air of desperate “last chance” about them.

SOLOMONS IFA - KODACHROME

NOT IN FOCUS

There are lots of possibilities for this, how change, endings and loss are handled for example. If you knew you had a few weeks to live, how would you conduct yourself in your final days. Perhaps a question many of us may have thought about more than usual recently. How do we handle ageing and the constant advancement of technology that can leave us behind, perhaps feeling (or being) redundant and consigned to history. How will we leave our mark, impression or do we even want to?

Sadly, the script and plot failed to cope with difficulty or nuance.  The film is seemingly at a loss for ideas. Perhaps I am wrong, but there is a point in the story where Matt returns to his Uncle’s adoptive home, where Matt lived from age 13 following the death of his mother and the chosen absence of his father. Matt is now an adult in the music business, something of an expert. Yet the room he returns to in his uncle’s home is as it was left – vinyl and posters intact. Whilst I imagine this may happen sometimes, it seems improbable that an adolescent’s room is left for well over a decade (well over) in its original state.

DEPTH

Unsurprisingly, the plot becomes ever more simplistic and lacks any depth of vision (ironic for a photographer). Words are said, tantrums had, departures, threats, ultimatums but we all know where this is headed – a “just in time” redemptive ending, where a man’s work is validated above his ability to be present or available to that which he suggests is important.

Life is rarely like this. We often do not get ample warning to adequately address painful experiences. No final road trip with a mission. The voice of the financial planner is to act as a reminder that life is brief. We all know it is, but most of us live as though it will last forever. Planning finances to last and to be sufficient, so that you can squeeze all the joy you want from your allotted time, whatever that means for you. It has a connection with money, but it is not about money. Its about the choices we make to live.

USE BY: SEE END

So, let me suggest something else. You have 4 rolls of film, (unlike digital images which are so instant and numerous that there is little focus on the importance of the subject and its composition). One roll for each quarter of your remaining time (I would not be so harsh as to divide it up into quarters and give you what should be left). At the end of each future quarter period, I take one from you. What have you filled it with? Even this is clearly a daft suggestion – we simply do not know how much time we have. What we do know is what is important to each of us. The job of the planner is to help you maximise the time you have available and help you calculate what is possible given the resources you have. Like Kodachrome, we all have a shelf-life, this life is to be used. Unlike the food in your fridge, we simply do not have the use by date. This is a reminder check your stock and plan. We all know how disappointing waste is, particularly when at one point it was within our control. Today is your day of control.

SOLOMONS IFA - THE LIFE YOU SHOOT

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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KODACHROME2020-09-28T17:37:05+01:00

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

Email me to get in touch
First Reformed2018-06-04T15:50:43+01:00

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

I have been enjoying several films at the BFI London Film Festival. One that stood out for me was “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” which is adapted from the book by Peter Turner. It tells of the unusual relationship between a young Peter Turner and former film noir femme fatale, who most are likely to have seen but perhaps not remember – Gloria Grahame.

Grahame’s career in film began with a small part in “It’s A Wonderful Life” you may recall how George Bailey gives Violet Bick funds to escape the small town and make a name for herself elsewhere. She won an OSCAR for her role on The Bad and the Beautiful and performed with some of the leading lights of the 1950s.

In A Lonely Place

The film is based on her encounter and 2-year relationship with Turner, who she initially meets in London whilst back treading the boards. Then in her mid-fifties, divorced 4 times and surrounded in scandal she begins a relationship with Turner, who at 27 wasn’t even born when Grahame had completed work on The Bad and the Beautiful. We are shown brief insights into her chaotic world and the scandals that inevitably ended her career in film. Her last husband, Anthony Ray, was her stepson (from her second husband) and the marriage lasted from 1960 until 1974 resulting in two children.

A Woman’s Secret

The film implies that Grahame was pretty much financially ruined, appearing to possess a mobile home / caravan on the Californian coastline. Perhaps because of 4 divorces or a career that was cut short, or even because of illness, but clearly the glamour and glitter of her star had burned out. (Spoiler) Ultimately her life is cut short due to a recurrence of cancer, though this is fairly evident as the likely outcome from the start of the film, so I’m not really spoiling it for you.

Odds Against Tomorrow

There are some broad financial lessons here. The audience laughter at a scene where two pints of beer are ordered for 90 pence, was probably the loudest in a film that clearly isn’t designed to be funny; but the long-term impact of inflation is not really the most obvious lesson here. Fame that brings financial success can be very short-lived. Life as an actor can be very harsh. Divorce is financially expensive, but of course the toll on emotional reserves may also be overwhelming. Love and tenderness are often found in unexpected places and whilst care costs, it may not have a monetary price. In a world of appearances many are in danger of making similar “mistakes” or having similar experiences.

The Cobweb

Financial protection is a modern-day (or should that be post-modern?) wonder for those without capital – providing financial stability in the event of life presenting “challenges”. Running out of money isn’t as bad as running out of time, but it’s probably a pretty close race. A proper financial plan will help reveal where your resources are and what you can do to sure them up. It enables you to take a look at the future and make some adjustments in advance if you don’t like the prospects.

Here’s the trailer for the movie, which reunites Jamie Bell and Julie Walters, this time as mother and son, whilst Annette Bening gives a great performance as Gloria Grahame.

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

Email me to get in touch
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool2017-10-13T11:22:47+01:00

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls

Perhaps it is just me, but I seem to be a little (more than usually) morbid at the start of the year. On Saturday I went to see the movie “A Monster Calls”. This seemed to coincide with my reaction to the lengthy list of people that died in 2016 and the natural sense of turning a new leaf with the start of a new year… a time to get a little more organised, better prepared for what may lie ahead.

The movie relates the tale of a young boy who lives with his mother and it becomes apparent that she has cancer. The movie itself is visually beautiful, fusing art, film and masterful story-telling. It captures the painful struggle of a young boy called Conor who, like many children is living with the hope of recovery and the reality of uncertainty. He escapes into the invisible world of monsters which merely highlights the tension of his real world where he is largely invisible, with nobody noticing his struggle other than those most alert to vulnerability – the bully.

Complexity lurking in the shadows

There are some delightful lines and insights and it is a film that has continued to gnaw at the corners of my mind. Whilst in many respects this might be promoted as a children’s story, it has far more to offer adults and those caring for or working with children with insights and reminders about just how vital our communication with children really is. Indeed, the tales within the story remind us that we are all rather more complex that “good” or “bad” perhaps this awakening normally comes in childhood, but certainly is a timely reminder as we survey a complex world with some notable players, who invariably appear monstrous.

The monsters we don’t call for

We all have monsters that we fear may come calling, one of the more obvious ones is the monster called Cancer. You may have seen some poignant TV adverts entitled “Cancer is happening right now” and of course for those of you that have experienced such visits or are currently doing so, there is a very real sense of an alternative universe, drawing family and friends into an epic, often weary struggle for survival and many will relate to the fourth tale offered up to the monster.

The limitations of financial comfort

Of course, in the financial planning world there are policies designed to provide financial assistance. Nobody is under any illusion that these will cure, heal or even soothe the pain of a serious or critical illness. They “merely” enable focus to be kept on relationships, care and hopefully successful treatment, rather than anxiety about cost, albeit purely the financial one. This is not a pleasant subject. It is the nightmare that I hope you never must endure, but the sad reality is that we cannot control our nightmares, we can respond to them and make allowances, whilst attempting to understand and have greater empathy for those that have, are and will.

I can thoroughly recommend the movie, but it comes with a warning, not a child-like story, but there are many children like this (and many grown-ups that feel the same way). Here is 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

A Monster Calls2017-02-02T13:24:21+00:00

Creed: Fighting Talk

Creed: Fighting Talk?

There is a sense in which the new film “Creed” is simply another film about boxing and fighting talk. Given the latter films of the Rocky franchise, anyone could be forgiven for thinking it was likely to be both propaganda for American capitalism and selling a soundtrack for exercise. Yet I wonder if this is a fair reflection.

The movie opens into the harsh world of institutional care for young boys and unfolds with our main character coming to terms (or not) with the death of his mother and then learning that  his fatherless existence was due to infidelity and untimely death. His lucky break comes in the form of adoption by the woman originally jilted. The unnerving reality is that despite being afforded acceptance, financial security and a surname with punch,  there is a gnawing sense that he simply doesn’t “fit”. He turns to the most compelling and certain traits of his makeup – that of rage and a desperate search for purpose.

Now perhaps I’m reading too much into things, but despite appearances, the Rocky franchise has always exposed an uncomfortable relationship with wealth and how it changes lives and relationships, invariably not for the better.

Shadow Boxing

As we all know, America has all manner of racial problems, perhaps there is more than a passing nod to the two areas of life where black Americans are “allowed” to flourish – sport and music, where fame and riches catapult often humble backgrounds into the limelight of the elite. In the film, the protagonist, Adonis meets several sparring partners, but Bianca is the one that offers the prospect of a real connection and possibility of going the distance.

Growth through loss

Our story touches on the loss of loved ones and the continued search for significance, the battles that many face, irrespective of wealth, physical or mental ability. These are of course issues that face us all as we age (even Rocky) and like him we have greater exposure to the limitations that money can supply, but perhaps more costly is the sense of lost purpose, which can make us spectators of our own lives. Rocky rekindles his by reconnecting with the younger man within and without, a mentor, a trainer.

Like every prizefighter, we all come to a point of realization where money cannot buy peace of mind… something that the American dream and capitalism conveniently ignore. That is not to suggest that money cannot help – of course it can, but as we witness all too often, an identity crisis is not solved by cash.

In your corner

Some think a financial adviser is going to work magic, providing enormous payoff without significant effort. I see it rather differently, my role as a financial planner is more akin to the trainer, encouraging, helping to keep you on track, focused and with a strategy for the success you are seeking.

Our fight is more like shadow boxing, where our greatest opponent is ourselves. Our own minds and bodies can turn against us, something that becomes a more relevant nagging reality with each passing year….. So however many we have left ahead, we ought to make the most of this one; a theme that I seem to be returning to with regularity.

Ultimately, we are not remembered for our incomes or our assets, but how we spent our time, how we lived our lives. This is the fight that I am interested in, how we figure out what is indeed enough given an uncertain future and a history of mixed experience…. So I guess, this may come down to our own creed.

Here’s the trailer for Creed, which has a supporting actor OSCAR nomination for Sylvester Stallone. For some, this will be just another Stallone boxing movie, but may I suggest that perhaps it punches considerably above its weight.

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

Creed: Fighting Talk2017-01-27T11:02:02+00:00

Hopeful Christmas

Hopeful Christmas

Where does the time go? Only last year I blogged about my god-daughter Hope who had her first proper launch event. After a very busy year, she’s now released an EP album, called “Optimist” – that seems to be gaining some traction and climbing up the singer/songwriter charts.  Now all of 16, her latest track is available on i-tunes. Perhaps one for the Christmas stocking?

Do have a listen, you can buy it for the princely sum of £3.14 on i-tunes.

Here’s the title video, which is dedicated to her late father and my very dear friend, who having suffered from a rare form of cancer (mulitple endocrine neoplasia) eventually died from the injuries resulting from a motorcycle crash in August 2006. You can find her on Jacket Records, a new small label run by Jack Hobbs, who also wrote a song for her “So Much More“.

As you know, I’m not a betting man, but I’d suggest that this is best investment for £3.14 you could make this Christmas and help to get the much needed Optimist on the radar.. what’s more you could order it right now from where you are. Happy Christmas.

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

Hopeful Christmas2017-01-06T14:39:21+00:00

Do You Need Financial Protection?

Solomons-financial-advisor-wimbledon-bloggerDo You Need Financial Protection?

A question I’m often asked is do I need financial protection? frankly this is rarely the question… most people are really asking if insurance is worthwhile. Given the scandal of PPI, and a general mistrust of financial services, it is little wonder. Add in the reality that there is a general assumption that such contracts are designed to favour the insurer and the lawyer involved, many question whether the insurers would ever pay out.LifeHappens

OK, there is little I am going to be able to say to convince anyone that is suspicious about “the system”. All I can do is point you to data about claims paid and also relate my own experience. In all the years I have been advising clients, I have unfortunately had a number of claims. All of them were accepted, only one was not paid out at the full amount (they paid 73% citing non-disclosure of material health matters). We are currently considering whether to contest this or not, I can see both sides of the argument – but obviously represent my client, so will represent his interests.

In essence there are really only three types of financial protection I deal with for individuals. So let’s cover what these are.

1. Life assurance – you die, it pays out. Price is everything, there is pretty much nothing between providers on terms and conditions, however there are a myriad of types of life assurance policy and enormous differences in cost.

2. Critical Illness Cover – this is much more contentious. Terms and conditions are everything, quality is upmost, price is secondary – you pay for what you get. However cost still varies enormously. This cover pays out if you are diagnosed with a serious medical condition – it pays you. The main conditions are cancer, heart attack and stroke….all stuff that most of us would prefer not to think about, but probably know several people (depending on your age) that have experienced this.

3. Income Protection – this  pays your income if you cannot work due to incapacity and an inability to return to work. Generally cover would pay until you are better and can return to work, or until the policy maturity date (invariably your retirement date). It isn’t so contentious, these days a lot of employers provide cover. Certainly terms are important – most basic being does it pay out if you cannot do your job or any job or any job for which you are suitably skilled/able.  Cover is always less than your total income, as this provides an incentive for the claimant to “make a recovery” and also reduces fraud. Cost varies considerably. Generally cover is a percentage of income, up to a maximum and starts typically after 3, 6 or 12 months of “being unwell”… the longer this “deferred” period, the cheaper the cover. This isn’t accurate… but gives you an idea.

Which job would you prefer?

Job A: £60,000 per annum

Job B: £59,500 per annum plus £38,675 per annum until 65 if you have a long term illness.

As I say, its not accurate, lots of if’s but’s and maybe’s…. but hopefully I am conveying the concept.

So how much cover do you need?

That depends entirely on your circumstances, the cost of your lifestyle, your age and your level of debt and if you have anyone that is relying on you. It is generally true that the more you need cover, the less you can afford it… think of a young family who have a tight budget…precisely because they have a tight budget they need cover. Some people don’t need any cover (because they have ample resources). In essence they are self-insuring, however some of these people would prefer to pay for insurance so that they pass the risk to the insurer rather than bear it themselves, so using funds for other, more enjoyable purposes.

Reviewing Cover

So you have a load of old policies. You have some cover. Sometimes it isn’t a good idea to change the cover –  the policies where terms and conditions matter generally are weaker and more vague these days than they once were. However some can be reviewed. Don’t forget on the whole your debt should be reducing and you and your family, if you have one are older, less dependent.

FT FAAwards2015

Financial Times (FT) Financial Adviser Awards 2015

Yesterday I attended the FT Financial Adviser Awards – having been nominated for “Protection Adviser of the Year”. I’m pleased to say that it was a podium finish (2nd)… which isn’t bad (the winner is a thoroughly good adviser that I respect – genuine congratulations). Of course I would have preferred to win – but hey, out of 24,000 advisers in the UK… I, like Nico Rosberg need to keep improving. However I don’t really know the exact reason why I came second (unlike F1 there isn’t a final lap chequered flag. I assume it cannot be based on the amount of protection business I arranged over the last year (consider the big networks of advisers or Bank employees), so I presume it is the quality of the advice process, perhaps also because I have always removed commission from protection policies (reducing the cost for clients) which is still unusual and not a regulatory requirement of “adviser charging rules”. Perhaps it was the case study, business model or interview that revealed the quality rather than the quantity of our protection advice. At this stage I don’t know, but what I do know is that if you find yourself in a nightmare scenario – the inability to earn, or life threatening illness or worse – suddenly bereaved, having cover in place that removes financial stress makes all the difference in the world. Because sometimes in life stuff happens that we don’t like.

Dominic Thomas

 

Do You Need Financial Protection?2017-01-06T14:39:28+00:00

Hope at Christmas

Solomons-financial-advisor-wimbledon-blogger

Hope at ChristmasHope

Sometimes, I probably stray a little too far from financial planning stuff within this blog, but that’s largely due to the fact that the clients I work for and wish to attract are people that have similar values to mine. As I have said before, if we are to work together, you may as well discard the glossy marketing and get a feel for who I am… after all there is so much more to both my clients and me than “money”. Anyway, on Saturday night I was part of a small crowd that was warmly welcomed to the home of the Kubrick’s who are generous advocates of local arts (the family of the late Director Stanley Kubrick) to support the launch of a new musician – Hope, my god-daughter.

Hope is only 15 and as you might imagine is still at school whilst making time to learn, practice and write new songs. Who knows if she will have a successful career in music, at this point she’s just having fun and seeing where it may lead. Hope’s parents are some of my closest friends since student days, and sadly her father Toby died of cancer some years ago in 2006 which was the first time that I had experienced the loss of someone close to me of my age.  As close friends, Toby and his wife Kym were people that also helped me in the early days of my career, acting a little as practice guinea pigs for my evolving advice. He was also the first client that I had to make a claim for against a critical illness policy. Unfortunately Hope and her older brother have both been diagnosed with the same causal disease (MEN Type 1). This isn’t an appeal, I’m just helping to draw a little attention to her first EP, produced by a new small record label called Jacket Records which should you like can be bought at any digital music store for a few pennies and the largest store (itunes) link is here. She has a website – which you can also find out more information, her first track is called So Much More… I know her dad would have been very proud.

Dominic Thomas

Hope at Christmas2017-01-06T14:39:32+00:00
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