The Trouble With…

The Trouble With…

It seems impossible not to feel a sense of despair sometimes when you see, read or hear the news. When there are atrocities on our own streets or we see yet further mindless violence in countries with whom we have deep and long connections, the sense of despair is palpable. However bad or inept the reporting, I remain thankful that I live here in the UK.

I’m not alone in thinking that the man currently elected as President of the United States is simply not fit for the task. He is out of his depth and displays his evident lack on a daily basis. We have come, (well…I have) to expect very little from him.

Viva Espana?

Spain on the other hand, is a country that most of us know almost as well and the US. Our language barrier is possibly helpful as we tend not to make too many assumptions about each other. Yet I am struggling to understand what goes through the mind of a policeman in the Spanish Civil Guard who appears to enjoy stamping, beating and fighting anyone he deems to be “opposition”. The images that have crossed a multitude of screens are truly horrifying. Whilst the vote for independence may be “illegal” it is clear that a very significant proportion of those living in Catalonia do not wish to remain part of Spain.

Splitting Heirs

As an Englishman and a British citizen, I’m aware of the calls for devolution of power and potential independence of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and perhaps Cornwall. This is unsettling to my sense of what is “normal” but of course the history of our own union is relatively recent and things were different before, much as they were in Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Prussia and so on… borders change. We do not keep the peace by pretending that all is well. We do so by listening to the perspective of the other. As in a marriage that reaches the point of irreconcilable differences, we need to acknowledge that sadly (perhaps) the best course of action is to separate and ultimately to agree to the new legal state of all parties concerned. This will have some genuine difficulties, just like a divorce, the division of resources and accounting for what belongs to who is painful. Those of you that have been through a divorce will understand this more pertinently than those that have not.

Head of State or State of Mind?

The suggestion that “the law” is to be upheld as though it is never altered based upon real experience is nonsense. The law is formed from experience and always evolves to reflect the changing nature of society. When a Monarch, President or Prime Minister fails to grasp the sense of unfairness felt by “their own people” preferring to support aggressive legitimised bullies, it seems to me only right to call them to account.

Ceteris Paribus

What has this to do with financial planning? We make assumptions about the future all the time. The biggest ones are those we don’t even verbalise – such as a relationship lasting. At my annual Institute’s Conference, last week, I expressed this view and to be honest, it didn’t seem to “land” with the small group that I was with. We talk of risk – typically investment risk, but also political and economic risk, occasionally the risk of health or redundancy, but rarely the risk of relationships ending. It is the elephant in the room with all couples, do we talk about the risk of irreconcilable differences?

I’m reminded of the saying “the pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change, the realist adjusts the sails“.

Feedback welcome, but not for a debate on the issues of Scottish Independence or devolution, or even what’s going on “abroad”. We can only control a very small number of things, but our ability to face up to our assumptions is one of them. For the record, I “love” Britain, Spain, the US but I prefer human dignity over any flag.

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

The Trouble With…2023-12-01T12:18:24+00:00

When in Rome

When in Rome..

I recently visited Rome for the first time. It was one of those places that I have been meaning to visit but simply had never found the time. I have always had good holidays in Italy and am happy to report that Rome more than lived up to expectations.

All roads lead to Rome

Being something of a film fan, I was keen to ensure that a few of the locations used in Roman Holiday, La Dolce Vita …were included in my visit. Having studied Latin at school (which dates me) I was also interested to see the ancient sites, many of which were part of the translation exercises that I sweated through somewhat reluctantly…. the Appian Way.

The experience of Rome reminded me of the story of the man that went to Africa and saw a huge opportunity to sell shoes, given the number of people without them. Business school suggested that this could be seen two ways – an opportunity to sell shoes or evidence that most people didn’t see the need or have the desire for them. Anecdotal observation is insufficient for making any solid business plan.

Opportunity discussion forum

Today, I might suggest opportunity of such a nature exists in Rome for driving instructors, graffiti removers and retail space designers. The driving in Rome is something to be seen to be believed. Opportunity or dead horse?

Tempus Fugit MMXVI

The Budget is now just a couple of weeks away. There is plenty of opportunity for speculation as you may have gathered. There is rumour that tax relief might be axed entirely or reduced (more likely). Supposed leaks suggest that perhaps the 25% tax-free cash lump sum will be scrapped (so some are now rushing to take theirs whilst they can). However this is in the context of the option of a pension income that is not taxed. Changes to the Lifetime Allowance, Annual Allowance and the prospect of a pension ISA.…. But by doing so, this would likely require a pre and post 2016 pension regime– just to add further complexity.

Veritas

The truth will not be known until some time after the Budget (not the Budget itself) which needs clarifying, checking and approval, is generally a promise, not a guarantee. Indeed assuming that anything that any Government says about pensions is “guaranteed” is best probably thought of only within the very short-term nature of a Government… the most obvious example being the “triple lock” guarantee for the State Pension.

Which reminds me again of Rome, and wondering how many in our political system or media would have survived the mouth of truth…. When it comes to pensions it would appear that many will simply be flung to the lions.

MouthofTruth

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

When in Rome2023-12-01T12:19:22+00:00

Could Financial Services Be Beautiful?

Could financial services be beautiful?

I wonder how many of us watched the final of the European Football Championship. The final was a footballing spectacle, with Spain beating a very good Italian side 4-0. The sports psychologists will have something to say about the score-line, but this was a world cup winning team perhaps at its best.

The pundit “experts” were left gob-smacked by the sublime passing and control that the Spanish side seemed to have in abundance. I had every sympathy with the Italians, who despite playing with 10 men for a large part of the second half, held on nobly. However one wonders if the result would have been much different if they had fielded 15 players – and Italy are good!

I have a confession, I’m not madly into football as some are. However, I do like to see good goals, team spirit and tenacity. I don’t like all the silly falling over and cries of “foul play”. I enjoy the drama of sport, but when sport becomes predominantly about winning it loses its purpose.

I know that these days it is simply a business, but something of sport is lost when winning is the only objective, which is why finals are usually so dull. One of the pundits was so in awe of the performance that he said that “football has just been reinvented”.

This made me wonder whether the collapse of faith in the Banking sector and generally within financial services is perhaps a good thing. There is certainly a need to reinvent a better way of managing risk and oversight of it.

There is also the enormous need for good financial planning which will help determine what level of risk needs to be taken on an individual level. The competition within the sector is in all the wrong things – performance and returns. A reliable, honourable and dare I say it, beautiful banking or financial services system is all about the why and how – not the what. It is time for a collective rethink.

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

Could Financial Services Be Beautiful?2023-12-01T12:22:08+00:00

Its A Knockout?

It’s A Knock-Out

The Euro currency has been active for just under 10 years and is currently in serious jeopardy. Next year sees the 20th anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty. The current media frenzy about uncertainty in the markets is enough to make most of us somewhat “concerned”. It is therefore a little perplexing that I’m left reminded of the 1970’s TV series “Its A Knockout” which made the nation roar with laughter – or at least, the irrepressible Stuart Hall who together with Eddie Waring made the series a success on the BBC. The International version of the programme “Jeux Sans Frontiers” drew in an estimated 110 million viewers at its peak.

I cannot help but think that this might be an altogether better way to work out European difficulties… with of course the Italians currently playing Mr Berlusconi as their Joker. The way Politicians have handled the crisis does rather remind me of the ostrich. Sadly, the crisis is very real and not a laughing matter, Europe needs direction and good team players. A lack of leadership in Europe has tended to create a vacuum into which extremist views gather momentum.

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

Its A Knockout?2023-12-01T12:48:48+00:00
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