The Bogus ‘Financial Adviser’

Dominic Thomas
Sept 2023  •  4 min read

The Bogus ‘Financial Adviser’

There are some lessons to be gleaned from a recent sorry tale about Peter Holbrook who posed as a financial adviser. As often is the case, his focus was on fairly vulnerable people who were recently bereaved.

Holbrook was recently sentenced to prison for five years and three months, so in theory he will be held at his Majesty’s pleasure until he turns eighty. This is for conning seven people out of £850,000 which he used to fund his gambling habit.

The scam lasted 10 years and seems to have involved persuading his victims to allow him to handle Probate and reinvest the proceeds of the estate. His fraud involved forging letters from investment companies and writing Wills, for which I understand he had no formal qualifications or training.

Obviously being conned out of your own money can have devastating consequences. Families are left with a lack of resources in a world which we all know is quick to consume them. Not having enough is pressure enough, let alone having it stolen. Holbrook, like many people, formed a gambling habit. All gambling is based on the erroneous belief that the system can be beaten, the constant winning and losing inevitably leads to a deficit on the balance sheet, the pressure can in turn cause addicts to make decisions that they would be unlikely to make had they not gambled in the first place.

I don’t gamble and if I’m being candid, I don’t believe it’s a good idea. That said, I don’t really think there is anything particularly wrong with the occasional bet for a ‘bit of fun’, but in all honesty I can find more interesting things to do with money. However, in a culture in which many football teams (eight of the 20 [40%] current Premier League teams), or sports teams in general, are sponsored by gambling companies; clearly it will take the usual required will power to go against the crowd. Many have a story about ‘a win’ that they had, but few relay tales of loss.

Sadly, investing is often compared to gambling, which is a failure of education. The association is one of loss. Companies can and do go bust, regularly. If all your money is in one or very few shares, then frankly that is very like gambling (though you are holding real shares in the assets of those companies). Anyone holding shares in Enron will corroborate this. However proper investing is buying shares in a globally diversified portfolio of companies around the world. All working to improve products and services and design new ones. This is how commerce works. It isn’t a perfect system, but it has a long pedigree of success.

We all know that there are some difficult realities of life. We all will die, nobody escapes mortality. Money pays bills, it provides choice, but it needs looking after and getting one’s affairs in order is often tedious and other than peace of mind, provides little ‘buzz’; certainly you are unlikely to get a giddy feeling of anything resembling that of having won the lottery! Investing should be dull; it should be boring. If it isn’t, you are probably holding the wrong cards or playing the wrong game. Finding someone to trust in a world that seems deliberately set up to confuse with jargon and costs isn’t easy. There are only around 28,000 financial advisers in the whole of the UK. That’s not many for a population of 66million.

Nobody wants to be the victim of a fraud or scam, please check with those you care about that they have a bona fide adviser.

The Bogus ‘Financial Adviser’2023-12-01T12:12:28+00:00

The Cold Shoulder?

Daniel Liddicott
May 2023  •  3 min read

Call me (or rather, don’t)

Public service announcement: News broke yesterday of the Government’s plan to ban all cold calling related to the sale of financial products. This measure was already in place on any sales cold calling related to pension products, however the government is now due to extend the ban to cover any unsolicited calls of this kind.

The idea is that when this measure is put into place, anyone receiving an unexpected sales call regarding anything from insurance to investments will know that the call is not genuine and is indeed an attempted scam.

You might say that this is a case of better late than never. The government stated that “fraud costs the UK nearly £7bn per year”. Financial scams have the potential to be hugely damaging and significantly life-changing.

Back in our Spring 2021 edition of Spotlight, we published an article about Emmeline Hartley, who was happy to share her story of being the victim of such a scam (see page 10!).

So, in light of this, you can rest assured that should you receive a cold call of this nature, hanging up the phone immediately is a perfectly justified course of action. Or should you have the time and inclination, you could take the would-be fraudster on a wild goose chase for the details that they will never obtain from you. Or you could try putting them on hold. Just a couple of ideas.

The Cold Shoulder?2023-12-01T12:12:33+00:00

Who do you trust?

Dominic Thomas
Jan 2023  •  5 min read

Who do you trust?

To my mind we have always lived in a world of false information. Stories and myths, urban legend all exist to serve someone’s perspective. Since the days of modern ‘propaganda’, we have been warned of careless talk and the enemy around the corner. In the last few years, largely though not exclusively due to the arrival of the internet, facts and mis- or rather disinformation coexist. We have to decipher and frankly that is not as easy as it should be. Most conspiracy theories contain an atom of something that seems to be plausible, but is then expanded and extracted.

This week we have witnessed more political folly as Government attempts to reign in some of its own that have crossed the line of reason. When we see extremity we tend to regard things as ‘obvious’.

I present Richard Rufus, former Premier League defender for Charlton Athletic, indeed in 2005 he was voted “Charlton’s greatest ever defender”. Like many a sports celebrity and Premier League player, he was well remunerated. High profiles and substantial income in our current culture, come hand in hand with an expensive lifestyle and costly habits.

After a career in football, many players struggle to adapt to life outside of the spotlight and without the same financial rewards. Few are able to continue to earn anything like their player wages. Whatever the reasons, like many players, celebrities and frankly most people, Mr Rufus appears to have spent most, if not all of his income. Whatever savings he had were clearly not sufficient to support his lavish lifestyle, which he was unwilling to relinquish.

A lavish lifestyle provides the appearance of financial success, but what is visible is largely immaterial. I’m often struck by how many people have a car that costs north of £60,000 yet have very little savings; who spend on cars and holidays more than they save for their future … but I digress!

Mr Rufus turned his hand to financial scamming. Not the sort of arms-length, call centre scamming, but the up close, personal relationship, scam your family and friends type of scam. The detail of which can all be found online following the Court’s decision to find him guilty of a £15m fraud which has resulted in a seven year prison sentence. Defender turned offender.

I don’t know Mr Rufus, I have no axe to grind. He wasn’t a financial adviser and reports indicate that the process of the scam was much like the advice you might seek from a friend at the pub … or more likely gastro pub or bistro. The mechanics of the scam involved foreign currency (often the case), no legitimate regulation (also often the case) and persuasion with what the eyes see and what the ears wish to hear. “It clearly works for him, look at his lifestyle”.

The fact is that at the heart of this there are problems that are universal. Firstly, few if any of us wish to reduce our lifestyle, however you define it. Most people are not good at holding onto the money that they earn, inherit or win. Most of us are not good at discerning the cost of a lifestyle either now or in the future. It’s far easier for us to account for how we would spend an imaginary lottery win than how much it will cost us to live as we are for two, three or four decades once we are retired, or frankly what we spend each month now. We are all tempted by the illusion of get rich quick solutions, starting your own business, writing a best- selling book, setting up a social media account where the ‘likes’ are followed by pounds, or of course the next big one, cryptocurrency or whatever you fancy.

The truth is much harsher. It’s a long, slow process, full of setbacks as well as successes. As for advice from friends and family … well I don’t know them, actually scratch that, I do know some of them, you refer them to us … but suffice to say that qualified, regulated, impartial, non-judging, prudent, long-term, evidence-based, evidential advice is likely to be of greater value with no vested interest in whether you holiday in Bournemouth or the Bahamas; Charlton or Cuba.

Who do you trust?2023-12-01T12:12:38+00:00

Money is not a peace of mind, it’s a choice

Jemima Thomas
May 2022  •  5 min read

Money is not peace of mind, it’s a choice

If you are looking for a gritty (anxiety inducing) series to binge, then Ozark on Netflix is for you. The series is about a financial adviser who drags his family from Chicago to the Missouri Ozarks, where he must launder money to appease a drug boss. So basically it’s a show about Solomon’s! (Please note this is very clearly a joke and we are not affiliated to this fictional TV series).

I was very pleased to see how many hits (yes, I stalk this on the regular) my first blog post ‘Slow and Steady’ got a few months ago, and I’m hoping that my youthful (and often under-represented) perspective will be mildly interesting to read again …

Amusing to some I’m sure, but I’ve always used the backdrop of art mediums such as film and TV to understand more about life, and there are a huge amount of personal parallels that resonated with me whilst watching Ozark. For one, the show is filled with financial lessons and quotes that have stuck with me. One of my favourites comes from lead character Marty: “Patience. Frugality. Sacrifice. When you boil it down, what do those three things have in common? Those are choices. Money is not peace of mind. Money is, at its essence that measure of a man’s choices.” For me this completely encompasses why we do what we do here at Solomon’s, and why great financial planning is so important.

Finding a good financial planner is a choice. And I truly believe it’s one of the best and often life-changing decisions you can make. Aside from the obvious differences of what Solomon’s does and what character Marty does (we aren’t laundering money, killing people, or secretly working for drug lords), we are however helping our clients invest their money wisely, something that I have begun to do myself. Perhaps I’m avidly searching for advice more often now both in ‘life’ and when it comes to my own finances, but I am acutely aware of the importance of having a financial plan.

Life isn’t always straightforward and is constantly changing, but some financial lessons are staple and vital in the long-run. Much like what happens to Marty and his family throughout each season, they are constantly having to adapt under severe life or death scenarios, and it’s eye-opening to see (although fictional) what people choose to do to save themselves financially.

Choices are also wrapped up in mistakes – mistakes are wrapped up in choices

Advice isn’t something I take lightly. I used to despise unwarranted advice, especially in my teenage years where I probably had a chip on my shoulder and felt most lost. But as I’m getting older, it’s something I welcome with open arms, and usually ask for. Other people’s mistakes often teach the biggest life lessons, and an open mind allows the space for us to learn from one another.

I get to read and listen to clients’ stories regularly as part of my work on Spotlight (our client magazine), and we often ask ‘’If you could go back and give your 20-year old self advice, what would it be?” and the responses are always helpful and interesting. When people feel comfortable and safe enough to talk about their financial mistakes (or any mistake for that matter), I am reminded that every day is a school day.

Money is not a peace of mind, it’s a choice2023-12-01T12:12:50+00:00

NFT – NEW FAIRYTALE

TODAY’S BLOG

NFT – NEW FAIRYTALE

Perhaps you haven’t heard about NFTs, if not give yourself a pat on the back. However, it’s possible that you have seen something online or had a younger person mention it to you and perhaps it left you a little perplexed. I am not a fan. To me this is yet another of “The Emperors’ New Clothes”. I am concerned that a lot of people will say goodbye to their hard earned savings for fear of missing out and not understanding investing, in a culture that appears to tell us not to invest in the stock markets. Give me a moment and I will try to explain why.

One of the main reasons for people being scammed is due to a fear and lack of understanding about the stock markets. The market volatility is regularly reported by what passes as news, keeping you informed about the latest FTSE100 movement. “Billions were wiped off the markets today” is a phrase that regularly rolls off news presenters’ tongues, yet rare is the day (have I ever?) when we hear the “billions wiped on”. We are all kept in a state of anxiety about impending doom and it is quite deliberate. It gets your attention.

SO WHAT… HOW DOES THIS ENCOURAGE SCAMS?

Well, fearing the investment of your money in the most regulated, scrutinised exchange, where data is published and reviewed every day of the year and has been for decades, it seems that the volatility and the anecdotal “I lost money” or “my dad lost money” triggers the big red panic button that most of us have. So many turn to alternative forms of investing in the mistaken belief that they are less ‘risky’ (in fact some seem to be a ‘sure thing’). Oh, and for good measure, we humans are impatient, we love a happy ending and have a tendency to ignore the hard work that went into creating one (if it even is an ending). Or to put it another way, to approve of and want successful investments once they have happened.

NFTs The New Clothes

INVESTING IN REAL COMPANIES

When you invest money into the stock market or funds of equities (as is more likely) you buy shares in companies that trade internationally. They do so by making or providing goods and services that we want, need or require. As markets are generally competitive, they strive to improve what they do to ensure their own sustainability. Where companies often go wrong is cutting corners to reduce costs and increase profit rather than improving what they do and communicating this properly. On occasion, you may have an objection to the company, or its sector or the people that lead it. So you can (we can) screen out some of these based on ethical, environmental, social or governance standards. At the same time, you know that ‘cheap’ is unlikely to be high quality, but you also know that we don’t all need our weekly shopping from Harrods. There is a range; a spectrum. Sometimes we pay more for things because of the feelings that it evokes, sometimes we do so because we instinctively know it to be better.

Your investment appreciates in time as the company you invest in grows. You also receive a share of the profits made (dividends). Quite how much and how well these companies ‘perform’ is largely down to how well they run and… luck. By luck I mean – the right place at the right time, for example being a PPE manufacturer and a pandemic arrives.

You get your money back when you sell your investment. In the interim, you’ve hopefully had some dividends and an improvement in the value of the share. If you hold a handful of companies and one or two fail (such as the Kodaks of the world) then you have a proper loss. If you hold thousands, perhaps an entire market, then the impact of any failure is significantly reduced.

INVESTING IS NOT GAMBLING

Placing a sporting bet or a stake in a casino, you are hoping for a win, or something close to that to get your money back, plus the incentive to make the bet in the first instance. You may get back nothing – which is far more likely. That’s gambling – the risk of complete loss. For some people this is a small bit of fun (I can think of many better things, but I won’t judge), for others it becomes an addictive habit that can destroy families.

When you consider investment in proper companies (shares in them) over time, going back to the start of your lifetime, there is only one direction of travel for the combined value of your investments. Upwards. Yes there are bumps along the way (volatility) but you own real assets (companies) making and providing real products and services.

THE NEW CLOTHES

The digital world and our obsession with it, has given some people the idea that a digital image is worth something. These NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) are in my opinion the equivalent of the Emperor’s new clothes. The value is talked up by nefarious online forums and chatrooms and ‘traded’.  I would not touch them with the proverbial barge pole. If in the event I am wrong about this in say three decades time, that’s fine with me as I will be holding assets that provide regular income from actual profits from making real products and services. I can and will happily live with that and until proven otherwise, I will not aid anyone into deliberate folly.

HMRC’s NFT SEIZURE IS A WARNING TO ‘INVESTORS’ AND TAX CHEATS

The UK tax authorities have confirmed their first ever seizure of a non-fungible token (NFT) following a probe into an alleged £1.4million VAT fraud. Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said it had confiscated three NFTs, along with £5,000 in other crypto-assets, and arrested three people as part of a fraud investigation concerning around 250 sham companies. It claims the three suspects, who have not been publicly named, used a variety of ‘sophisticated methods’ to try and conceal their identities, such as false invoices, pre-paid unregistered mobile phones and virtual private networks.

NFTs are tokens representing the ownership of a digital asset, which could be an artwork, an image, music, or even a tweet that have their own unique signature and cannot be exchanged for another asset of the same type. But there has been increasing worries that these digital tokens, as well as cryptocurrencies, are being used by criminals to hide their illicit financial gains. Nick Sharp, the Deputy Director of Economic Crime at the HMRC, said: “Our first seizure of a Non-Fungible Token serves as a warning to anyone who thinks they can use crypto-assets to hide money from HMRC.”

Understand the real risk and buy real assets. You have been warned.

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

NFT – NEW FAIRYTALE2023-12-01T12:12:53+00:00

BANKS HAVE TO DO BETTER FOR FRAUD VICTIMS

TODAY’S BLOG

BANKS MUST DO BETTER FOR FRAUD VICTIMS

The Financial Ombudsman Service, which manages disputes between financial firms and customers, is ruling against banks in 73% of authorised fraud cases, data exclusively obtained by Which? demonstrates. This means if you have been tricked into sending money to a scammer, you may be able to get a refund from your bank.

The biggest banks are signed up to the voluntary Contingent Reimbursement Model (CRM) Code, which is designed so victims of authorised push payment fraud (APP) are treated fairly and consistently when they ask for compensation. If your bank refuses compensation, you can escalate your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

But the number of customer complaints about banks’ handling of authorised fraud – the vast majority of which are APP – landing at the FOS more than doubled in the 2020-21 financial year, from 3,600 to 7,770. And three-quarters (73%) of these were upheld in favour of the customer.

Financial Scams and fraud

VAST SUMS OF FRAUD – SOMEONE HAS TO PAY

APP fraud – being tricked into transferring money to a fraudster – is fast becoming one of the UK’s biggest frauds. Losses hit £355.3m between January and July, outstripping losses to card fraud. Banks are required to refund you for losses to unauthorised fraud such as card fraud, but not APP fraud. You will have noticed that we ran a couple of items in our client magazine Spotlight about fraud and scams.

The voluntary CRM code was launched in May 2019 and requires signatory banks to provide effective warnings to customers, identifying vulnerable customers and acting quickly when a scam is reported. In return, you are expected to pay attention to take care, have a reasonable basis for believing the payment is genuine, and pay attention to warnings.

Crucially, signatory banks must reimburse customers even if both parties have done nothing wrong. Data shows that many victims have been wrongly denied compensation but haven’t approached the FOS. Escalating a complaint to the FOS is free, and can be done online, but not all victims will be aware of or able to use the service. That’s why Which? wants the government to swiftly take the necessary action to enable the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) to introduce mandatory APP fraud reimbursement for all firms using Faster Payments.

If I were a betting man, (which I am not) I would conclude that Banks will find a way to recoup some of their costs from customers, this normally takes the form of higher interest rates or charges on all forms of borrowing. Alternatively, to end the myth of “free banking”. There is no such thing and its about time we all had a grown-up conversation about 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

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

BANKS HAVE TO DO BETTER FOR FRAUD VICTIMS2023-12-01T12:12:59+00:00

THE SKY’S THE LIMIT

TODAY’S BLOG

THE SKY’S THE LIMIT

This is an increasingly common tale. It is one about a scam, one that you really should be aware of. Scammers generally take two basic guises – a confidence trickster and an expert in a subject you do not understand enough about. This scam is the latter. It is about technology, something that you and I use, but probably have vague or general understanding of, because we do not really know how it works – simply that it does work.

The scam takes the form of a phone call from someone working at your broadband supplier. The truth is probably that you are with one of a handful of broadband companies, there is a high chance of mentioning any one of them that you are a customer. At this point the caller can either effectively politely end the call or has reassured you that you are dealing with an existing supplier.

BROADBAND SCAMS

HELPFUL HARMFUL AND HORRENDOUS

The caller informs you that your broadband is not working as well as it should, and they can help make it faster. Who of us does not want faster broadband? (irrespective of the inaccurate promise on the tin). Help is at hand if you download an app and place your phone near your router so that the performance can be monitored (how helpful right!). You comply and are informed that you are due a refund for poor performance (good news) so a code is provided to enable payment to your bank. You are kept on the phone, which whilst you think to yourself is a little frustrating and a little ironic in the age of high technology, you are of course getting something in exchange – a refund and faster broadband. You wait. At some point you are insulted as a muggle or something similar, and the caller hangs up. You have an immediate rush of realisation and call your bank to discover that it has been emptied. Emptied! Just hold that feeling a moment before reading further. Your bank account emptied….

You did not authorise a withdrawal, you were expecting a credit. Your bank may or may not be impressed and act accordingly. It is international fraud and not within the FCA jurisdiction.

NOT MERELY BASED ON A TRUE STORY, IT IS A TRUE STORY

The above is an abridged true story that another adviser shared with me, it happened very recently. Please do not accept the information that a caller provides you with. Anyone calling from one of your suppliers should know some rather basic information from you, be that your name, address and account number (for the service). Do not give them any of your time. Do not download anything that you have not understood sufficiently. Never reveal your bank information over the phone, guard it as though you would your prized possessions.

#*&^(:jh:d!!

There are many words for scammers, if you are ever victim of one, you will think of many of them. You are not a fool. You have been fooled and we all can be (look at how we vote!). However, you must act. Most scams offer the promise of more money or improved service. Rare is the day that these come without cost. They are never free.

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

THE SKY’S THE LIMIT2023-12-01T12:13:13+00:00

AVOID MINI BOND SCAMS

TODAY’S BLOG

AVOID MINI BOND SCAMS

Following on from my piece about cash management services I mentioned the problem of a growing number of scams. Cash savers looking for better rates of interest are regularly duped into believing that rates of 4% or more are currently achieved for cash. THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE for deposit accounts UK Banks or Building Societies when the Bank of England rate is 0.1%. Of course a few years ago such rates were common, but not since the credit crunch. So be warned that something that says it is the equivalent of cash when it is nothing of the sort. Genuine interest rates will not be much better than the Bank of England rate – perhaps 2% more, but very little else.

Accounts offering “interest” of more than this are not genuine cash. They could be legitimate, but not cash. The rise of peer-to-peer lending is often a touted as an alternative to a regular bank. There might be some good ones (they may be) but on the whole this is a new business taking your deposit and lending it out to other businesses or individuals at a higher rate than they pay back to you. No different from a traditional Bank, except that a traditional Bank has been doing this for years and has learned the hard way that lending needs to be done carefully… and whilst I am no fan of Banks, just think about who might borrow from such a lender… someone that cannot, for whatever reason borrow from a high street bank. Hey presto, higher risk of default.

MINI BOND SCAM

Mini Bonds are yet another layer of this, except they dont have to relend the money to legitimate borrowers (people trying to fund their business or enterprise where a mainstream bank won’t play ball). They can lend the money to anyone, sadly often to the Directors of the company running the mini-Bond. Thousands of savers have got into problems with these mini-bonds. Tempted by higher rates of “interest” which was then passed on to some pretty despicable humans. These were banned in January, but this month made permanent after mini-bond firm London Capital & Finance collapsed with £237m of savers’ money.

WHITE CAT

WHAT IS A MINI BOND?

There is no legal definition of what a mini-bond is in the UK. Most companies that have offered them, including London Capital & Finance, borrow money from ordinary savers, promising them a fixed return well above the rate available on most standard saving products. The mini-bond firm is then largely free to do what it wants with the money. Many have lent investors’ cash to third party companies (which sometimes has the same directors), bought other risky investments such as race horses or wine, or funded property construction. A number of companies that raised money in this way have collapsed with millions of pounds of savers’ money unaccounted for. The FCA claims that mini-bonds are not within its remit, while criminal investigations for fraud are rare and prosecutions even rarer. As a result, investors generally have no protection if things go wrong, and fraudsters can operate with little fear that they will be punished.

ONLINE ACCOUNTABILITY

One of the many problems with google and facebook is that they carry advertising and seem unwilling or unable to vet adverts for authenticity, though I find this very hard to believe as whenever I have attempted to run even the tiniest marketing initiative on Facebook, my “advert” has to get “approved” before it can run. So… no I don’t believe that more cannot be done. Anyway, savers who are not as sophisticated as the scammers invariably google interest rates and are faced with adverts offering higher rates… what’s not to like? Well just the fact that risk isn’t really explained and its all framed to look, smell, sound and taste like any other Bank. You need to know the real risks that you are taking. A mini-bond is a great way to part with your cash on a permanent basis, something that the stock market does not do until Armageddon (as you will not get to a £zero value if you have invested in an index unless everything is worth nothing – and I can only imagine one scenario where that could occur… the sort of scenario where a Blofeld Bond-like villain (hence the cat picture…) is holding the world to ransom, or the actual obliteration of everything we know. If this ever happens, you won’t be worried about your ISA or pension.

In the meantime, please beware of scams, watch out for the villains, they are rarely as easy to spot as Mr Blofeld. This reminds me of an element of my work which is to act as a type of bouncer to your finances. Some have asked me about my photo, suggesting I look a little “mean” (perhaps they meant grumpy). It is deliberate – anyone that has engaged with me knows that I am having a little joke. As a bouncer, or gate-keeper part of my role is to ward off those trying to part you from your money. Its meant to be a little amusing, (ok not hilarious) whilst holding a very valid truth – that I am on your team as a defence against the rubbish that inevitably comes in your direction, its not if, but when…

As for the calibre of the villains, well the fictional ones are best left to the likes of 007, those that are actual criminals, well… I have to leave them to the authorities whilst doing what I can to prevent them coming anywhere near you.

As for Mr Bond, from the perspective of 2020 there are many aspects of 007 that hang heavily today. A friend of mine recently mentioned that he had rewatched the entire Bond collection with his children, he reappraised his favourite Bond and saw the films in a different light. When it comes to cash accounts, please appraise with care – make sure you know your Bonds from your Mini-Bonds. Here’s a trailer for 007 in “You Only Live Twice” (1967) who, let’s face it, has probably lived more than twice already.

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

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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AVOID MINI BOND SCAMS2023-12-01T12:13:16+00:00

BETTER NOT CALL SAUL

TODAY’S BLOG

SELLING TRUTH YOU WANT TO HEAR

One of the TV series I enjoy is a spin off from Breaking Bad – Better Call Saul, which you can find on Netflix. In simple terms it is the story of James “Jimmy” McGill who is the younger wayward sibling of two brothers. Regularly in trouble, Jimmy is nothing like his responsible, pedantic brother Charles who is a very successful lawyer. Despite their differences, Jimmy is close to his brother, tending to a peculiar illness which is debilitating.

Jimmy is a low-level conman, who has a talent for spotting a fool and parting him from his money as most confidence tricksters do. His observational skills and self-confidence combined with a malleable relationship with rules are the perfect combination for selling a different version of truth, a lie that people want to believe. It becomes apparent to him that perhaps being a lawyer requires a similar skill set. Most believe that lawyers are crooks with a Degree and Jimmy can smell opportunity.

The numerous series chart his misdemeanours, and these run parallel to the mirroring characters of the drug world. Instead of law firms and partners, read gangs and cartel all pushing the same freedom fix, but with grave penalties for error.

Better Call Saul - Netflix

TO WHAT PURPOSE?

The series raises lots of relevant questions – fundamentally what is our purpose? Who is Jimmy? Why is he endowed with the skills he has and how could these be put to more rewarding, purposeful use. We witness him genuinely attempt to do good, to remove or reduce harm, to expose corruption and to protect the vulnerable, yet his efforts are met with the resistance of indifference and judgement that prevents him from straying outside of his box. A societal box that others have placed him in. This is of course particularly timely as we all consider the challenges that face anyone that is genuinely interested in equality, justice and fairness.

It isn’t often that I would encourage you to pay attention to someone that is essentially a corrupt lawyer, but there are many valuable insights to be found. These are as basic as understanding the mechanics of a scam, hiding in plain sight and how to find hidden fees. However we also have to face the reality of understanding depth, capacity, risk and the difference between problems and trouble.

Many of the problems that Jimmy faces are problems that many of us may experience at some point – whether that’s the importance of a Will, care costs, business partnerships, deals and the value of what we provide to others. However at its heart of the story is the strength and weaknesses of relationships – whether that’s between siblings, employers, family or friends. Jimmy is largely making decisions in reaction to those relationships, as are others. Every character has a story but as ever, being able to see the solutions to your own problems is often aided by an impartial other.

One of the lessons I have been reminded of this week, today in fact, is that as a planner, I help provide objectivity and accountability – helping clients keep on track with their stated values and plans for a great life. Jimmy could have had a very different story if someone had shown him how his skills could be applied, if he had received the right support and encouragement. It may not have been as dramatic (and worthy of a TV series) but it would certainly have ensured prosperity in the fullest sense of the word.

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

BETTER NOT CALL SAUL2023-12-01T12:13:17+00:00

SOME DAYS… WARNING TO THOSE RETURNING TO THE NHS

TODAY’S BLOG

SOME DAYS – WARNING TO THOSE RETURNING TO THE NHS

There are days when my heart sinks, today was one of those days. I came across a warning from HMRC about a scam being directed at people returning to work in the NHS to help in the fight against COVID-19. It is always depressing when crooks and lowlifes take advantage of others, but particularly so when they take advantage of those that are trying to quite literally save lives.

I better not add any more as it certainly would not convey a professional image, let’s leave it at “it makes me very angry”. So if you are returning to work in the NHS or know someone that is, please warn them not to sign documents without reading them and to have a look at this notice on the Government website.

Long story short – this is about a tax avoidance scheme, which will not work and likely to financially harm those that participate in it.

The link to the Government notice and website is here.

CRIMINALS LURKING

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

SOME DAYS… WARNING TO THOSE RETURNING TO THE NHS2023-12-01T12:13:19+00:00
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