Black Mirror – Nosedive

Black Mirror – Nosedive

The new series of Black Mirror has been released (21 October 2016) on Netflix and is a bit of a cross between Tales of the Unexpected and The Twilight Zone…. Remember them? If you do, then there is a fair chance that you will have had more than your fair share of adopting new technology over the years and Black Mirror is a small leap of the imagination into a future that is almost within our reach.

Nosedive, the first episode of the new series from the writer Charlie Brooker provides plenty of food for thought for those of us that use social media. Irrespective of who you are, there is something very satisfying about having a post or tweet “liked” or “retweeted” – a sense that you are being heard. Of course for small and large business, your social media marketing strategy is all about trying to engage people, both prospective clients and existing ones. This blog is no different.

Brooker draws out attention to the insatiable underlying desire for approval that underpins this and reflects a future society (not very much in the future) where “service with a smile” and the constant demand for ratings and feedback result in desperate collective anxiety and need to fake it in order to gain approval. Not only approval, but the point-scoring system acts as the new form of societal sorting and classification of us all.

image of Lacie, the lead character practicing her smile, current score 4.243image of Lacie, the lead character practicing her smile, current score 4.243image of Lacie, the lead character practicing her smile, current score 4.243

Are you getting feedback?

I thoroughly enjoyed his take on this rather dystopian future, of a world addicted to handsets and a numbing or removing of real experiences and interactions. I’m sure that if you shop online, you now get a request for some feedback. As with many things this was intended to be for our good – a chance to engage and improve services, yet it has become so widespread it now simply feels needy, like some spoiled child constantly asking for approval.

Here at Solomons are guilty of this too. We ask for feedback and comments – and for you to share posts, tweets and so on. This is now all part of helping spread the word about the business and how we help clients, how we bring value. That said, it can become very irritating (hence we try to limit our “neediness”).

Rage against the machine

I guess this reflects the changing nature of relationships between us all and the organisations that we use. Seeing people rant online, whether about Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, Southern Rail or Brexit is at least raw and exposing, of course great care needs to be taken, but in Nosedive, we are faced with a “sanitized” society where genuine emotion, thought or comment is parked firmly out of sight, to the point where who you are seen to be and with are more important than who you are.

At least here in 2016 we continue to help our clients verbalise and express their true values, not simply those that are deemed “acceptable”. Its funny how often I ask people when they plan to retire and they invariably say 65 – which used to be the default State pension age, as though this is an appropriate “date”. The truth is that you can “retire” whenever you want – or not at all and why here at Solomons we prefer to use the term financial freedom day – when you choose to work, not because you have to, but because you want to.

Here’s a bit about Nosedive.

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

Black Mirror – Nosedive2017-01-27T11:12:38+00:00

Why I struggle with the best

Why I struggle with the “best”

I will come to the point, I loathe the suggestion that something is the best. Whatever is given the title “best” is entirely subjective. Best film, best song, best politician, best car.. or something bearing the words “World’s Best Mum / Dad”… really?…. presented by who? out of a choice of how many? Oh… so no, not really the world’s best, just mine.. (sorry Mum and Dad) it’s simply the thought that hey, you are a great Mum / Dad and it’s the thought behind it, wanting to recognise something good… nobody takes it too seriously, it is harmless. So no problem.

Similarly when the i-phone 7 was launched, “It’s the best i-phone that we have ever created”…. Er… surely one would hope that it was, given that its meant to be an improvement, otherwise please lets simply stick with the one we have (which I will probably do anyway). If you are in the technology industry and not making things better, you will have a very short shelf-life.

The best investment fund

Ok, so I’m being pedantic, sorry… but here comes the point when it relates to financial services. There is no “best fund” there is no “best investment” or “best pension” that is all utter twaddle. There is no “best adviser”, “best buy” no “best firm” no, not even a “best financial plan”. This is nothing more than reductionist nonsense. A good financial adviser (better still a financial planner) is not paid to pick “best”… yes you heard it here.

There is always one fund that is top of the performance list…. on one day over one timeframe, but that was top, not best and it will change, by changing one of many variables.  It’s important to me that clients are not told that something is the very best… because that is entirely misleading. What is fair to say is that something is suitable (really/very/highly/ blah blah..) and the “best for you” given X, Y or Z but that’s true today and may not be accurate next year. It is about context. We do our “best” in providing clear advice that isn’t sensationalist and doesn’t exaggerate, we want expectations to be realistic not false. The media and urban myth have already raised expectations well beyond what is realistic… we all want low risk and high returns, but that’s simply not going to happen. Financial advisers are not magicians (who it turns out, are also not magicians but illusionists).

Delusion, denial or simply daft ?

Similarly, this week I also heard the phrase “I over-exaggerated” it was used by the American 4x200m freestyle relay gold medallist Ryan Lochte, (who has now been banned from competitions for 10 months following his behaviour in Rio). In connection with his story, he said that he “over-exaggerated”. Mr Lochte you cannot over-exaggerate; you just do (exaggerate). In any event it wasn’t an exaggeration, it was a lie, something that he appears still unable to admit.

So when you are at a dinner party or a social event and someone is claiming how their portfolio is managed by the best, that they are generating the best returns, don’t get taken in. There is no such thing. No investor enjoys the best returns endlessly. We are all making the best of what we have within the limitations of being human and decidedly ordinary. When it comes to investing or financial services, your unique context and circumstances are the most important relevant details. What was best last week or in 2008, 1995 or even 1066 just isn’t your context today. As for politicians talking about the best education or the best healthcare, well… no, I’ll leave it there… well here.

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

Why I struggle with the best2017-01-06T14:39:14+00:00
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