A new year, a new decade. There have been huge global changes over the last decade. Cast your mind back to 2010. Gordon Brown was PM. The FTSE100 closed 2009 at 5412. The starting rate of income tax was 10%, the personal allowance was £6,475 unless you were over 65. The annual allowance for your pension contribution was £245,000 with a lifetime allowance of £1,750,000. ISAs were limited to £10,200. Corporation tax was 28% or 21% for small companies. The Credit Crunch had happened, unemployment in the UK had soared to 7.8%.

On a lighter note, Chelsea were top of the Premier League, Jenson Button had been F1 World Champion for 2 months. The year ended and 2010 began with the worst snowfall since 1982.  The iphone 3GS was 6 months old, the ipad hadn’t even been launched.

Looking back, 2010 started nursing the pains of the credit crunch

Most (almost all) financial advisers all worked on a commission, the regulator (FSA) and its Chief Executive were still fending off criticism about mishandling the credit crunch, whilst working to implement new standards for advisers, which wouldn’t be implemented for another 3 years. Solomons had been removing commission since formation in 1999. A decade of commission removed already!


Technology has evolved. Advisers have evolved (as has the regulation). Tax rates and allowances have changed, pensions have been mauled. We have lived with base rates of less than 1% for a decade (all that wasted money in Cash ISAs!).

“Lessons will be learned” (more likely: mistakes will be repeated)

The top Unit Trust returned 684% over the decade (ending 2009) it happened to be a fund investing in gold. At the start of the relevant time period, the then UK Chancellor was at the beginning of Government policy (1999-2002) to sell off UK Gold reserves like they were a bad disease, the price of gold was rock bottom at the time. However, the worst fund returned (lost) -72%! That’s a huge difference, and of course only something most didn’t achieve, for few investors had the stomach for gold when tech was the best game in town. In fact, it was the Framlington NetNet fund that was launched in 1999, a fund that was marketed to capture the returns of the internet. Within a few weeks of the start of 2000, the dotcom bubble burst. The fund was renamed and rejuvenated which ended the decade at a loss of -72%. Most investors (and Governments) did the exact opposite of what they should have done. Lesson learned? Of course not.

Planning is Art and Science

Technology is often fantastic; I use tools that I wish I had in the early days. The 2020s will only see more become available and hopefully more efficient ways to do things. Technology is simply a tool, not a replacement. It doesn’t cope well with real life and the changes that can be very sudden. So, advice should always be grounded in the real world, but more importantly with your real goals and real values. That’s where the art comes in and here is some from Carl Richards of the Behavior Gap (American!)

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


Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Mill Cobham Park Road, COBHAM Surrey, KT11 3NE

Email – 
Call – 020 8542 8084


Are we a good fit for you?


Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Mill Cobham Park Road, COBHAM Surrey, KT11 3NE

Email –    Call – 020 8542 8084


Are we a good fit for you?

ANOTHER DECADE OF CHANGE2023-12-01T12:17:04+00:00

Not So Keystone Cops

Not so Keystone Cops

The danger of watching videos on social media or indeed many films or TV shows is that you can easily form the impression that the Police are fumbling in the dark without much of a clue. Whilst errors or judgement and malpractice are often correctly brought to light, it is rather foolish to assume that this is indicative of the majority.

It would appear that Abid Hussain was under the illusion that the Police were simply not up to the task of catching him for the crimes he committed – namely money laundering and fraud (at the least). Mr Hussain contacted the police in May 2016 claiming that a property that he owned in Acton had been sold without his knowledge or permission for £480,000. The case quickly landed on the desk of officers from the Complex Fraud Squad (FALCON).

The Backfire

The Police soon established the truth, that in fact Mr Hussain had sold the property through a legitimate, albeit complex process.  Perhaps hoping to create a web of intrigue, Mr Hussain then told the Police that he had received £770,000 into a bank account, which bore his name, but of which he had no knowledge. However, this was money from a re-mortgage on another property that he owned – that he had initiated (which he had denied in an attempt to further deceive the lender). CCTV evidence of Mr Hussain meeting a solicitor to sign the paperwork was used to disprove his version of events.

Money Bags

It also transpired that CCTV was also used to confirm that he used some of the money that he took from the sale and mortgage to buy a reasonably heavy 15kg of gold bullion, (20kg is the typical airline hold baggage allowance) which it is alleged he took with him to Pakistan shortly thereafter. Having been arrested in the summer of 2016 he was found guilty and finally sentenced on Friday to 5 years and 9 months in prison. The investigation into what happened to the gold bullion continues.

In essence, Mr Hussain has provided a false witness statement to the Police (who presumably he believed to be inept) and then reported transactions as fraudulent (when they weren’t) in order to make them void and leave the property company and lender at a loss. Long story short – he blew the whistle on himself, assuming that the UK police were more Keystone Cops than Sherlock Holmes. So congratulations to DC Richard Kirk who led the investigation of the £1.25m fraud… probably rather elementary.

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

Not So Keystone Cops2023-12-01T12:18:25+00:00

Gold and the ATM give away

Dominic Thomas
July 2015  •  3 min read

Gold and the ATM give away

The continued fall in the price of gold reminded me of a 4 years ago (Gold to Go). This was a short piece about the arrival of an ATM that dispenses gold bars, rather small ones! in exchange for cash..

At the moment gold is at its lowest price in 5 years. The World Gold Council who recently issued their Q2 report, acknowledges the continued decline in the price of gold this year, but point to their belief that this is in part due to a possible increase in interest rates in the US.

Gold is really part of a defensive portfolio, not being cash, bonds or equities and an asset class that investors return to in times of uncertainty – or at least that tends to be the view based upon historical data.

I tend to take the view, from experience, that when investment advice is dispensed freely by those who clearly don’t have the qualifications to provide it, then there are serious signs of a bubble. An ATM dispensing gold at a shopping centre, placed their in July 2011… well the price of gold peaked in August 2011 $1,821 per oz. At the moment its around $1,093 per oz.

The price of gold soared from $431.65 per oz in July 2005, had a wobble from March 2008 until  September 2009 as it eventually broke through $1,000 per oz, climbing further until August 2011. The price has been in decline ever since and returning to the $1,000 per oz level, (no this is not a forecast) in part reflecting a higher degree of confidence in world economies.

Boutique Design

I’m not sure if the ATM is still at Westfield, but a quick online search suggests that there are a few in London, largely in International foreign Banks. Being a German machine (the Gold to Go one) it is incredibly reliable and prices are updated every 10 minutes, so the vending machine may easily provide you with a different price for your gold bar in-between coffee breaks.

Anyway, just so that you know, gold is fine as an element of a portfolio, but it really should not be too significant an element. Having all your investment in one asset class is very unwise – precisely why gold is one option of many. Here is the video of the Gold to Go ATM… please do not take this as advice to use the machine or indeed to buy gold, I am merely commenting on general principles and all investments ought to be made in consideration of your own context, plans, attitude to risk and capacity for loss.

Gold and the ATM give away2024-03-13T15:56:43+00:00

Gold: Fools Rush In?

1925: The Gold Rush – Charlie Chaplin

The World Gold Council has just published its third quarter data for 2011. I’m one of those people that find this sort of stuff interesting, which is presumably a good thing if you are a client. Anyway, demand for gold increased by 6% on a year-on-year basis. Investment demand for gold as a “safe haven” is driving demand and altering the shape of the gold market. Way back in 1970, when the world was clearly a different place, Jewellery accounted for about 70% of gold market with investment and technology roughly sharing the balance of the market equally. Scroll forward to 2010 and investment gold now makes up about 40% of the market, with jewellery squeezed to 50%.

What is also interesting in the report is that nearly 80% of gold production mines were in Africa in 1970 (the bulk being in South Africa) with 10% based in the US and the rest of the world accounting for only 10%. Today, or rather in 2010, there is a completely different picture, East Asia now has the biggest distribution of mines, but by an large there is an even spread across the US, Latin America, Middle East, Oceanic and Africa, Europe by comparison has virtually no significant input into the numbers. Of course since 1970, South Africa in particular has changed dramatically.
My concern is primarily that gold has become such a significant holding within portfolios that the price is perhaps unnaturally high due to the demand. It is clear that gold is a traditional “safe” asset, but the volatility in the price of gold would suggest that as with other asset classes, timing is everything and is of course very difficult to get right consistently. The economic environment leads investors to seek safety, but I am beginning to wonder whether we are gradually getting to the bottom of the mine that we have dug for ourselves. By the time characters like “the little tramp” (nothing to lose) are gold speculators, it is time to get out.
We are a boutique firm of financial planners. We create financial plans designed to achieve a desired lifestyle. We will craft and implement your plan that will provide you with the greatest chance of accomplishing your unique goals based upon the values that you hold. Financial products are little more than the tools to achieve your required results
Call us today or visit our website for more information and to arrange a meeting
Gold: Fools Rush In?2023-12-01T12:48:40+00:00

Gold to Go?

Dominic Thomas
July 2011  •  2 min read

Gold to go?

For all my blogging about gold over the last few weeks, you may not be aware of the Gold To Go ATM (automatic telling machine) that now resides a short distance from me at the Westfield shopping centre. This is not to be confused with the 1990’s European TV quiz hosted by Henry Kelly.

German company Gold to Go have been gradually placing gold dispensing machines in some high-profile locations across the world. Much like a normal ATM you punch in your PIN to dispense money, though instead of your selected level of cash, you select the weight of gold bar that you require. Being German, the ATM is a remarkable and highly reliable piece of engineering, which is clearly a rather fundamental feature. Anyone that has ever used one of the car parks in Kingston Upon Thames will appreciate the problems of consistently failing machines.

Smurfing…. no not those blue fellas

This begs questions about money laundering and fraud, but apparently this is all taken care of via a form of identity check. Suddenly you can appreciate that the machine does need to work rather well. The Gold to Go website says that there is money-laundering and smurfing protection. A smurfing attack is not a hoard of tiny blue…er.. smurfs? but an exploitation of internet broadcast addressing to create a denial of service… because this ATM is plugged into the internet. It includes a personal ID scanner and camera.

All that glistens…

For those into coin collecting, this will perhaps be a temptation, indeed many may be tempted to convert cash into gold which is very neatly dispensed in mini gold bars, with local branding. Mind you, as for its original mining source, I suspect that you will not get this information printed on your receipt.

Gold to Go?2024-03-13T15:55:00+00:00
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