Has War Just Changed?

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Has War Just Changed?

As is often the case, out of something that seemed trivial, we may have witnessed a “significant moment” in history without grasping the implications. In short, we are asked to wonder if war has just changed. It seems to me that war is invariably about an inability to cope with or live with difference. Often this is expressed as a conflict of ideology but of course theology too. Some regard war as a battle over land, which perhaps is the case, but I’d suggest that this is merely the physically binding frame of reference used to galvanise support along lines of difference and to physically represent the boundaries of control. This week we learned that the boundaries shifted. The vast majority of the media missed the story, selecting to reflect the inane rather than the insane.Good Night and Good Luck

The story? this is about a executives at a film company bad-mouthing movie stars and being caught. The real story is that national boundaries have just been obliterated by hackers, who acted to squash something they didn’t like… but not just squash, threaten. Of course, some countries operate on the basis of a few bullies oppressing the masses – this is sadly nothing new and will probably never cease. I found myself looking at an image in a magazine recently, wondering how on earth so few, odd looking irrelevant men can control an entire nation, yet it happens all over the world.

The sadness is that film-makers and journalists are meant to be the ones that keep our focus on the truth, revealing darkness and oppression, helping to inform and change. Sadly many in Hollywood shirked this responsibility for fear of reprisal and financial cost. George Clooney couldn’t get anyone to sign his petition – ANYONE. So why should we be concerned if others aren’t? – after all haven’t Sony executives themselves to blame for expressing personal opinion and hitting that send button? Well, certainly some wisdom is needed in expressing opinion in a digital age, but the truth is that I doubt anyone has not said something about someone at some point in their life of which they are now not terribly proud. However, this isn’t really the point – the point is where does this lead? Can hackers now be hired by anyone, any nation to bully another into compliance? How does this impact our free speech? and surely this isn’t simply the domaine of terrified, narrow-minded tyrants, but also enters the arena of corporations who don’t like stories about their leadership or activities. Surely this has the potential to influence how we perceive and from a financial services perspective, appearance can be everything – just ask Tesco or BP.

This story has implications for you and I, our use of social media and the freedoms we enjoy. Obviously it isn’t wise to hurl insults and the adage, if you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it at all seems pretty pertinent. But we surely cannot live in a world where we are terrified of legal action or reprisal. This is a “tipping point” for the double-edged sword of the internet, offering the prospect of genuine freedom of information to all (which we take rather for granted in the comfort of the West). As for me, I have never liked bullies, whether they come in the guise of a big kid in the playground, a teacher, boss, an investment bank, politician, pseudo military general, bigot, racist, rabid fundamentalist or of course my own tendency to think lazily and turn to petulant expression in frustration, which certainly in my “madder moments” it is a very good thing that weapons are not within easy reach…and sadly my own temper is easily fuelled driving, cycling or walking these very streets all too easily… which is of course the advantage of a society that doesn’t permit liberal gun ownership, encourages thought, education, tolerance and self-reflection, but unfortunately often seems more obsessed with narcissistic reflection in the eye of… well the media.

Dominic Thomas

Has War Just Changed?2017-01-06T14:39:32+00:00

About Time

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About Time

I recently watched the 2013 Richard Curtis film “About Time” starring Bill Nighy and Rachel McAdams. It is the story of how the males in one family have the ability to travel in time once they reach their 21st birthday. As with many Richard Curtis films, it is somewhat sentimental, but contains some good points. Many of us have at times, wished we had the ability to alter the past to the benefit of the present or future. Certainly hindsight would be of considerable value to investors, which is the only time in which timing the market is actually possible. However, I wonder if such ability is really that helpful.

In thAbout Timee film, the lead character Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) uses his newfound time travelling abilities to correct or “improve” his first and subsequent impressions.  Whilst I recognise that this is tempting and done for dramatic effect, initially it conveys the idea that Tim cannot handle disappointment or failure, unless things go his way in a perfect sequence, then he cannot manage the imperfection. I imagine that this may have resonance for a Director or Writer, but for the rest of us, even with the advantages of technology, there is only so much editing and “perfecting” that can be achieved.

Financial planning is not about designing a perfect life, full of wonderful experiences and things. Certainly it can (and hopefully does) contain those, but life happens and we make of it what we can. Motivational guru’s talk about living deliberately or intentionally and having life plans, goals and surrounding yourself with people that help you achieve… but the reality is that character and life experiences are largely formed through the journey of life, all of its ups and downs, not simply the high points. Surely what makes us deeper people is our response to them (the highs and lows). At a seminar recently I was reassured to hear a very notable lawyer remind us all that everyone makes mistakes. The question is presumably whether they were or are deliberate and how we respond.

The film concludes neatly and I won’t spoil it for you, but Tim learns some life secrets that are worth reflecting on, particularly in relation to any financial planning for life. I ask clients about their expectations from life and even how long they expect it to be, on many occasions we work to bring forwards some of their “lifetime ambitions” as however well planned things are, none of us know when we will depart this mortal realm and as we all know… time flies..#tempusfugit. Here’s the trailer.

 Dominic Thomas

About Time2017-01-06T14:39:32+00:00

Dementia – Suppose I Lose It

Solomons-financial-advisor-wimbledon-bloggerDementia – Suppose I lose It

Radio 4 will be running a programme this evening at 8pm, which will be a highly personal view of dementia. It features a well-known married couple – Timothy West and Prunella Scales who are interviewed by their long-time friend Joan Bakewell. The preview this morning sounded enganging, expressing the very practical, personal and real problems that anyone suffering dementia can face.fawlty towers

Becoming infirm is not a topic that many people wish to talk about, yet it is, in my opinion a vital part of proper financial planning. After all, the job of a financial planner is the attempt to make your money last as long as you, ensuring that it doesn’t run out. Yet we all know that should we ever require care at home or in a residence, this can be incredibly expensive and is often referred to as a “ticking time bomb” within press and political circles. One of the scenarios that I model for clients is precisely this problem and of course there are implications for ensuring that not only your Will is up to date, but also that you have Lasting Power of Attorney in place.

The broadcast promises to be interesting and is on this evening at 8pm, Radio 4, called “Suppose I Lose It”. It will be available on the BBC i-player afterwards presumably for the usual time-limited period.

Dominic Thomas

Dementia – Suppose I Lose It2017-01-06T14:39:32+00:00

What makes some great?

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What Makes Some Great?

What makes some great? genius? or at least excellent? What is it that makes some people memorable or even iconic within our culture? There are a spate of films* that seek to pose this question and one that I saw last night was “Whiplash“. This explores the notion of what contributes to genius and why most of us aren’t. The premise is of Andrew Nieman (Miles Teller) a highly talented jazz drummer who studies at the Shaffer Conservatory, one of the world’s top music schools (don’t most academic institutions make similar claims?) whether it is or isnt is part of the story that we tell ourselves about our place in the world, deserved or otherwise. He is ambitious and highly dedicated to becoming the best, though it isnt always clear if this is meant to be his best or “simply” one of the greats. Whiplash

He and his mentor/teacher/bully both live with the hope and belief that genius or greatness is sparked into being by being “challenged” beyond the norms of what others think is a “good job”. Indeed the mentor Terrance Fletcher, (played by J K Simmons) says that these are the two most harmful words in the English language. It would certainly seem anecdotally true to say that adversity can lead people to find strength, stamina, courage and perhaps greatness, however is it a requirement?

The film holds few punches, delivering a barage of insults, mirroring the sweat and blood drenched beaten snare drum. This is one of those more gritty, bloody tales, that suggests you leave part of yourself in your work or perhaps become the work… rather like a line from the 1980 movie and TV spin off “Fame”. The premise is impossible to test. The common myth that binds master and student is that of Charlie Parker, who was humilated for playing out of tune, by having a cymbal hurled at him by Jo Jones, narrowly avoiding serious injury. This we are told, motivated Charlie to practice and be reborn as “great”.

I won’t spoil the plot, I really enjoyed the film – one of the best films about musicians that I have seen. However whilst there are incidents of greatest created from strife, there are countless others that have huge disadvantage and struggles yet never become great or even “known”. The myth itself is an unrealistic portrayal of real life experience, which inexplicably sees different results for different people. Some will argue that this sort of toil and dedication is deserving of fame and success, yet this too is failing to acknowledge that there are countless masses that toil hard for little discernable difference.

So what has this to do with financial planning? well, certainly getting one’s finances in order can feel like an ordeal and a regular request for updates or documents, to some will sound like a demand. However, here we are not trying to create famously successful investors. We are attempting to make your finances work for you, to serve your lifestyle – which implies having a sense of life and style by design rather than by accident. I act as a form or coach or mentor, but certainly not a bully (I hope)… but one that enables clients to make informed decisions and then take action, having got a real sense of what purpose your finances has to fulfil.

* Mr Turner, Wild, The Imitation Game, Nightcrawler and Foxcatcher to name just five. I’m told that Whiplash has a UK release date of Friday 16th January 2015, Oscar season…

Dominic Thomas

What makes some great?2017-01-06T14:39:33+00:00

Cash for ISA Questions

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Cash for ISA Questions

Let me be very clear – I LIKE CLIENTS TO HAVE CASH… its VITAL. The real question is “what is a sensible amount of cash to hold?” This will be different for everyone. Cash should really be available for planned expenses within the next 0 to 3 or 4 years, that way you know its there ready for your use. Thereafter, cash is vital to run any business and any personal finances. Whilst budget calculators and spreadsheets suggest nice neat twelfths, many costs are not monthly. As thoughts turn to Christmas – this is something we all know happens annually, once the presents have been unwrapped and you start looking forward to the potential of the new year, thoughts turn to summer holidays… and so on. So having cash on deposit is a very good and wise thing and don’t forget that some expenses are unplanned – such as repairs or replacements due to loss or damage.

Interest rates are so low is it worth bothering with a Cash ISA?high_and_low

The short answer is “maybe” – it rather depends on your circumstances and when you need the money. Sadly, despite ISA allowances never being higher, interest rates haven’t been lower in living memory. Many if not most, deposit accounts are paying less interest than the rate of inflation (1.3% according to ONS). So your pound is declining, slowly, in purchasing power. This is an unfortunate reality that we currently live with. I would also take issue with official figures about inflation which bears little resemblance to the spending patterns of various people (think of the price increases in gas, electricity and rail).

Just to be clear… what is a Cash ISA?

A Cash ISA is simply a deposit account where interest is tax-free. Interest is taxable normally and should be reported on your HMRC self-assessment tax return. The amount you can put into a Cash ISA is linked to tax year allowances and the ISA rules (all of which are within our free APP or you can look them up). These changed in July 2014, lets stay brief and current, the new allowance is £15,000 each for the current tax year. You can now hold all of the allowance as cash or as investments, or any combination between the two within an ISA (previously you could only contribute 50% of the ISA allowance towards cash). As a result of the new rules, you can have a more suitable balance between cash and investments within your ISA to suit your requirements.

Should I just pick the best rate?

A word or warning, picking a cash ISA (or any deposit account) based entirely upon the headline rate, may not be wise. Perhaps you will remember the Icelandic banking crisis in 2008, which ought to provide some cautionary tales.

It is worth the effort?

It depends on your current rate of interest within your ISA and what the alternatives are. Remember that an interest rate of 1% will be worth 0.8% to a basic rate taxpayer and 0.6% to a higher rate taxpayer. Within an ISA you get the full untaxed amount. However if the sums are small or modest, say £10,000 then shopping around for an extra 0.5% is only going to provide £50 over a year, which given that if the better new rate is with a different Bank (or Building Society) you have to go through the ususal opening an account procedures – demonstrating your identity and UK residency and so on.

If this cash is just a part of my portfolio, should it now be mixed within my investment ISA?

Maybe. If you have a modern investment ISA on a “platform” which holds lots of funds, shares etc, then the platform may well have cash deposit options too. However be warned that platforms generally charge for their adminstration based on the balance on it, so you may well (probably) get charges for cash holdings too. If its ok at your Bank/Building Society then as long as your adviser knows that you have it and therefore not “too much” in cash, that should be OK. However for long-term wealth I would encourage people to use an ISA as an investment vehicle, rather than a place to dump cash as savings. Context is everything and needs thoughtful assessment with an adviser.

So where can I find current ISA rates?

Try looking here at Moneyfacts. However, I suggest doing a proper search using their search engine or any other that is widely available. Remember fixed rates are lock-in’s. If you think rates will rise, then you may wish to question the wisdom of locking into a low rate that is fixed for ages and if you are really locking away cash for 4 years or more, then perhaps you should be thinking about investment instead.

Anything else I should know?

Well, the age old one about bias. Financial advisers and financial planners like me are in part remunerated based upon the amount of money we look after, so if you invest more, we earn more. Of course the hope and expectation is that this is a very worthwhile exercise for you – getting better returns etc (but more importantly getting your money right for you). However it needs to be clear that its not free. Of course a Cash ISA with a Bank/Building Society can appear free – there are rarely any charges, but that doesn’t make it free. This is part of the problem with the delusion that the retail banking system maintains – that banking is free. It isn’t. The bank invariably pay bonuses to their staff for new accounts opened.  They lend the money back out at far higher rates of interest and make profit as a result.  However that money is at risk (of not actually being repaid to the Bank) and possible Bank collapse – hence the £85,000 FSCS protection and of course there is the inflation to also consider, you may actually be losing money – as many people are if their rate of interest is less than the rate of inflation (which is the majority of current accounts and many savings accounts).

A final point – this (the above) is not advice. You should naturally always plan with your own goals and context. A Cash ISA can be a very good tool in your financial box, but it may also be a rather blunt instrument – it all rather depends on the job at hand and the degree of skill you have using it. Here is a decent little video from Nationwide which is pretty clear. I’m not promoting Nationwide and depending on when you read this the information may be out of date. However the principles are right… oh yes, Nationwide do not pay me to mention them… so no cash for promotions.

I hope this is helpful.

Dominic Thomas

Cash for ISA Questions2017-01-06T14:39:33+00:00

Financial Planning Week

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Financial Planning Week

Its that time of year when members of the IFP (Institute of Financial Planning) open their doors or put on events, pitch up to radio stations to discuss matters of financial planning for the week. This is really an opportunity to ask questions and gain better understanding of the financial planning process.fPW14

I was somewhat pleased to see a faily favourable item in a national newspaper that was expressing the view that financial planning is worth paying for, even though it may seem expensive. One of the great problems within the system is one of cost and it may not surprise you to learn that most financial planners work with a very select group of clients, who make up a tiny fraction of the overall population. There are around 20,000 financial advisers, of which only 2,000 are members of the IFP (as I myself am).

The IFP would certainly welcome and encourage as many as possible of the remaining 18,000 to become financial planners. That’s not to say that the other 18,000 aren’t doing a good job, but its probable that they aren’t doing financial planning, but rather providing good (hopefully) financial advice – which tends to be rather more reduced to a particular issue of focus – such as “arranging a pension” or “making an investment”. All good things, but not necessarily financial planning, which involves planning all of your finances around all of your life, now and into the future, ensuring that your money doesn run out before you.

One of the hot topics at the moment is that of pensions. The once dull-as-dishwater pension plan has now been given a new lease of life thanks to the Chancellor. It would be a masterful understatement to say that anyone with an investment based pension now has more options to think about. However, for some people reviewing the decisions made is also going to be pretty vital to ensure the very best arrangements. Here is a very short video from the IFP for those not yet retired – there is some sound.

Dominic Thomas

Financial Planning Week2017-01-06T14:39:33+00:00

Talking Money – Pension Freedom

Solomons-financial-advisor-wimbledon-bloggerTalking Money – Pension Freedom

Clients should now have recieved a hard copy of Talking Money. This issue provides a little more “flesh on the bone” about the new pension freedom that the Chancellor outlined in his Budget. There are many very positive aspects of the changes announced and some are already in action. However some caution is needed and I imagine that there are likely to be some adjustments to the final terms, which are likely to be announced in the Autumn statement next month.solomons-IFA-Smart-money-magazine-cover-NovDec-2014

One of the main issues is that despite this making “grown up pensions” and providing people with choice, this does also come with a plethora of options that need thoughtful and careful reflection. Whilst the Chancellor told us that everyone would have free advice at the point of retirement, this has already been reduced to”free guidance” and in practice that means going along to the Citizens Advice Bureau to speak to someone who will almost certainly provide a guide and then refer you to an independent financial adviser.

As you may know, I spend a fair bit of the year attending conferences and training sessions. This is part of my own continual professional development (CPD) but there’s no lip-servcie to this – its pretty vital. The rules for pensions have altered, scrap that, been revolutionised in a “landmark” year for pensions. However despite the appearance of simplicity, there is even more need for good advice and for those that end up opting for a flexible pension rather than an annuity would be wise to review this decision regularly (one of the advantages of making it) and give proper consideration to guaranteed alternatives.

There are about 7.7million employed workers between the ages of 50-64 in the UK according to ONS reports. Even if there were an even demographic spread, that suggests a tidal wave of over 500,000 people reaching 65 each year. There are not enough hours in the day or qualified advisers to currently facilitate this easily. So make sure that your friends and colleagues are aware of all the options, but above all working with someone that puts pensions in their right context – your income to suit your lifestyle.

Dominic Thomas

Talking Money – Pension Freedom2017-01-06T14:39:34+00:00

Tax, Votes, Spending and Debt

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Tax, Votes, Spending and Debt

In the UK, despite our unpredictable and often disappointing weather we are undoubtedly in a very privileged position, some of the richest people on earth. We can easily forget our liberties and the many advantages we enjoy and should be unsurprised that others might wish to come here to create a future for their own families. Whilst we clearly need to exercise care in who we allow into Britain, we are all here largely by chance.

Tax

I’ve been reflecting on history and taxation and to be blunt, was surprised by my own naivety. As taxpayers, at least here in the UK, we get to vote (unless you pay tax and are under 18). This is perhaps the best example of “money talking” if you pay tax; you have an interest in how it is spent and why. One might build an argument for those that do not pay tax, should not have a vote (remember that there are various forms of taxation, not simply income tax – VAT, stamp duty, road tax, council tax and so on)… fairly hard to see how any adult in Britain would possibly be a non-taxpayer (unless they don’t live here).votes for women

Votes

Anyway, what I had forgotten or perhaps not appreciated was the involvement of suffragettes in the taxation system, who argued that taxation without representation (political) was unjust. Today it seems hard to imagine a counter-argument or why women would have been prevented from voting. Yet many women today are paid less than their male colleagues for doing precisely the same work. On occasion this is obvious, but sometimes it isn’t and frankly this is seriously out of order with where we ought to be by 2014.

May I ask you a question? When you initially read “those that do not pay tax should not have a vote” did you have a reaction to a fairly bold statement? Most people would think immediately of income tax and recall that not everyone pays income tax… many of the elderly, the infirm, unemployed and of course some parents looking after children. To deny these of the right to vote would be somewhat outrageous right? But most people pay tax, invariably through “indirect taxes” that we tend to forget about when we consider our actual net income. We are now in a period of confusion about tax avoidance, when terms are being quite deliberately muddled or misrepresented. Who really believes that the state should fund nothing? (or very little? or conversely everything?). There is a societal dynamic to taxation, yet our disconnection from community and engagement in politics tends to repress this social (not socialist) memory. Tax is good for us, but that does not mean that we should assume that paying less tax is “bad”. We are encouraged to save for our own futures by having some tax advantages (pensions and ISAs) or to encourage entrepreneurialism – which hopefully creates jobs and greater wealth. These are designed ultimately to reduce reliance upon the State.

Spending

However I am concerned by politicians that seem to think that reliance upon the State can be reduced before independence is even achieved. The new pension rules are undoubtedly liberating, but please remember that “once it’s gone it’s gone”. This isn’t a “bad” thing, it is simply the reality of living within our means. The main problem being that most people don’t and the reason they don’t is due to the cost of living and an inability to say “no”.

I am conscious that it is very easy for a financial planner with wealthy clients to say this. Surely just a bit of self-discipline is required. Just say no… which I believe, but am also aware of my own hypocrisy. I am just as inept in some aspects of self-discipline. The most obvious for me is my fondness for wine and good food (which sadly in middle age does not mix well with an Adonis physique). I also have the ability to spend money on things that I don’t really need, but would like. Again, there’s not much “wrong” with this, but when I use a credit card that I don’t repay straight away, I am really in denial about my own unhealthy habits – and perhaps delusional. However more significantly, is that the wealthier I become, the more readily I can spend and the more I forget what it was to have less. I am lucky. Yes I work hard, have taken “commercial risk” but lucky even so.

I don’t judge how my clients spend their money, merely help them account for it and create planned spending. It is a very worthwhile exercise, but invariably a “painful” one…. If I asked you to sit down now and account for your spending in the last year/quarter/month, I dare say I would meet with some resistance. I often wonder why, after all, it is little more than historic information that cannot be changed. Yet it often reveals information which we probably know but would rather not see. As a nation we are quick to point to politicians claiming expenses that we think unfair, or companies that “charge too much” or “make too much profit”; how much aid is “wasted” but where does this come from? It is simply envy? Shouldn’t we start with getting our own affairs in order first?

Debt

Look, I’m not trying to be “political”. I am merely attempting to reveal that simply saying “no” is only a partial answer. I have more questions than answers and I have already confessed to you my own hypocrisy. Despite this, (perhaps in spite of this) I do believe that as a nation we need to consider why we feel the need to overspend and how we handle our own money…of course when its other people’s money, we are even more detached from it (hence the problems within financial services)….where “bankers gamble with your money” (I am repeating a phrase I have heard many times, not necessarily an accurate one)…I do know that some of my clients are very good at running a budget and sticking to it, some get frustrated with those that don’t. However, we all have our failings and whilst I am not excusing parents (for example) for failing to say no and somewhat arm-twisted by commercials aimed at children, closely followed by adverts for loans, it is a modern-day pressure which not everyone has experienced in precisely the same way. I’m not sure that banning things is a mature approach to life, but I can see an argument for banning adverts for loans during children’s TV programming, which is why I support the #DebtTrap campaign that The Children’s Society are running (which I came across over the Bank holiday weekend.

If I might therefore make a suggestion or two. Firstly, that we start with ourselves, regain control (if it was lost) or at least proper knowledge of how we spend our money. If you would like an easy to use spreadsheet for this exercise, just email me for one. Secondly, have a proper personal spending plan and if this is exceeded be prepared to ask why this was… and not just dismiss the incident as “of little significance” you may find much can be learned from your own chequebook. Do let me know how you get on…. As a final request, do check out the Children’s Society Wall of Debt campaign.

Please note that I do not provide debt advice. Despite being a financial planner, this is not my area of expertise (negotiating with creditors). If you require debt advice or someone you know does, please visit the Money Advice Service website (paid for by financial planners). Oh.. and a film currently in production with a fairly stellar cast “Suffragette” is in production.

Dominic Thomas

Tax, Votes, Spending and Debt2017-01-06T14:39:34+00:00

Tempus Fugit

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Tempus fugit – time flies

One of the things that age affords us is the ability to remark how quickly time passes, so when my daughters begin to talk of how quickly the year has gone, I am given cause for reflection. These days we seem to measure pretty much everything – because we can, as though the measurement will reveal the secrets to success. Sport has taken this to an incredible level – as we begin yet another football season, how many passes, kicks, assists, false starts… blades of grass… all of it is turned into “big data”. Financial services is a world obsessed with measurement and metrics and as I begin the tedium of another annual return for my professional indemnity insurance I note how what is being measured changes. The Freudians amongst you might have an inkling about why so much time is spent measuring – pretty much anything.

The belief that “you get what you measure” is rife in our culture, but is it even vaguely accurate? We are nationally obsessed with house prices, inflation, GDP and the national debt and momentarily the number of A’Level passes at A*-C. Are we measuring the right things? David Cameron attempted to introduce a “happiness” measure, which I think was well-meaning but many have mocked. My in-box, twitter account and pretty much every form of media is deluged with data. Performance indicators, past present and future, but are they any good really?

So, somewhat controversially I am going to suggest that most of the data probably isn’t very important or useful at all. It tells us what happened, rarely why. If you are a client, you will have gathered that I have an enjoyment of history. We print our own birthday and Christmas cards, which we design. I fill these with what I hope are interesting “historical facts”… interesting to me anyhow. Why? well… if I’m serious about “lifestyle financial planning”, yes numbers are important, but surely life itself is rather more important. What we should measure is the content of our lives, not the content of our pension funds. I have never been to a funeral, where the focus was on how well someone managed their money or how much time was spent at work.

I think it fair to say that we are all largely unable to escape 24/7 reporting, yet a great deal of wisdom is required to determine what is actually important. My children will tell you that a phrase I use all too regularly is “everybody dies”. This is not meant to minimise death, quite the reverse, it is the great leveller and a part of life, yours and mine. I am merely trying, probably poorly, to point out that life is brief, so live it well, but it is the content of life not the accumulation of stuff, or social position that I believe is where a life well spent resonates.rosalynn carter

So of late, I have tended to tweet simple facts. Reminders of people that are alive or perhaps dead, but who have done something extra-ordinary, none of them are perfect (nobody is right!). Of course, the irony is that many of these people are famous and don’t appear to be “ordinary”. I’m also mindful of a white, western male perspective, which I have grown up in. Its also a reminder that life is brief, that change is often painfully slow and the present is built upon the past. So as we see yet more racial trouble in Ferguson the not-so United States, where arms manufacturers seem to be equipping police forces for wars as opposed to communities, I am reminded of the struggles of the civil rights movement in the US and how the struggle is clearly not over and how much more there is to do in the world…and timely that Rosalynn Carter is celebrating her 87th birthday today…another inspirational woman who has been waging peace, fighting disease and building hope – for a lifetime.

I know its possibly “commercially dangerous” to comment on politics, religion, gender, race…. but whilst I don’t expect everyone to agree with me (heck, I often don’t!) it does reflect rather more about who I am, rather than some glossy, corporate sanitised version of who I am. I’m told that I should build my “brand” which is well-meaning advice, but seems to somehow miss that I run a small (tiny) company, primarily serving local people to make better decisions about their money so that they can get on with living their lives more fully. I don’t know the future, don’t promise huge rewards, merely to remain disciplined to sensible principles that work, all in the context of a world of options, which we can sift through together calmly.

Dominic Thomas

Tempus Fugit2017-01-06T14:39:35+00:00

Explosive ideas

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Explosive ideas

I think I may be on a theme at the moment – something is gnawing at me and it’s not the occasional mosquito. Perhaps I am concerned about my own mid-life stage and seeing my children head off to University (that’s probably something to do with it). Perhaps it is meeting with clients and prospects who give me cause to wonder if only… if only I had met them 10 years earlier. Whatever the cause, I’m conscious that time is a very valuable resource and you don’t want to spend too much more of it reading a ramble.The-100-Year-Old-Man-Who-Climbed-Out-Of-The-Window-And-Disappeared-poster

Long story short… well that’s kind of the point. Most of our lives we live as though we have a long time left, “all the time in the world” but the reality is that life is very fleeting. So we need to enjoy what there is and plan for our futures as best we can with what we have today. I heard a phrase the other day which went along these lines “people value present money much more than they value future money”. I think pretty much every financial planner will probably agree that this is the case. Getting some people to take action about their future can be very difficult. Take fees for example, this is invariably a tiny proportion of the difference that good financial planning will make. I’m not talking £000’s but many £000’s of £000’s. Yet for many the fee is the number that they really “feel” and relate to. Its now, it’s present. The future – well that’s some way down the track.

The future is of course made up of from a history of “the present” the “now’s”. I am struggling to convey the importance of getting the present sorted out properly so that the future is much better. I’m not sure where I’m failing in this regard, but I am. Perhaps my copy writing could do with a serious spruce up, perhaps I need to try a different approach… yet I am struggling to win you over aren’t I. By win, I mean persuade. Persuade that taking action today about your future is just as important as the tasks you are actually doing today. So I’m declaring open season on ideas. If you have any that you believe convey the notion of long-term thinking and future value being as valid as present value, I’d love to hear from you.

Too many of us seem to think that the future will simply look after itself. We are more like Allan Karlsson, from “The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” who bumbles from one incident to another, narrowly avoiding disaster served by a helpful side order of luck and naivety. It’s a delightful movie, but it is fantasy, yet it would seem that many of us prefer the fantasy that things will work out ok, as opposed to working to make them ok. I wonder what explosive I might use to shift some thinking.

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

Explosive ideas2017-01-06T14:39:35+00:00
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