HOT PROPERTY?

TODAY’S BLOG

HOT PROPERTY – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

We are all aware that the world is a bit weird now.  The thoughtful self-reflection that occurred during lockdown appears to have given way to fatigue, thoughtlessness and sometimes an attitude of selfishness. The UK property market continues to confound reason.

We know that during the initial lockdown, which was really the duration of the second quarter of 2020, very little happened, then gradually restrictions have lifted. One of the often-cited reflections of working from home is the need for a quiet space at home, be that a spare bedroom, study or garden shed. As people became accustomed to not commuting, many found that they are in fact rather more productive. Some have found a better balance between the professional and the personal. Many have questioned why they are paying for an expensive small home that makes commuting quicker but now find it unnecessary. Some have noted the value of community and the desire to be closer to relatives. Space is cheaper elsewhere.

We know that big cities like London were struggling to encourage people back into the office, leading to an existential threat to many supporting businesses and organisations, from cafes and restaurants to meeting venues. We are now heading into the Winter with yet another Governmental set of directives, which may or may not be helpful.

Interest rates have never been lower in living memory. If ever there was a time to borrow it is now. However, lenders are all too familiar with bad debt and worry about an economy that may experience a prolonged recession, with rising unemployment and job insecurity. The usual domino effect of recessions. This results in lenders managing their own risk, limiting who, when and why they lend. They hold the cards. We may all find money a bit tighter if taxes increase to pay for furlough and various Covid bailouts.

SOLOMONS IFA MONEY FOCUS

STAMP DUTY: GOING, GOING…

The Chancellor has tried to stimulate house sales by removing Stamp Duty on sales under £500,000 until the end of March 2021. This is a tax break that is planned to end. Some of you may remember MIRAS, another tax break which ended 20 years ago. House sales in England typically account for 85% of all house sales in the UK, forgive me, but I’m going to focus on the sales in England. The ONS records sales over £40,000. In Q2 of 2020 a provisional 131,730 homes were sold in England, a year earlier the figure was 237,870. Sales had been gradually improving since the credit crunch. Numbers had not recovered to their 2006/07 which saw 1,433,200 homes sold, that collapsed in 08/09 to just 664,250. Sales have been recovering slowly and then dented again by the Brexit vote, before reaching 1,003,060 in 18/19.

SCORES ON THE DOORS…

2020 began fairly slowly, but reflective of seasonal normality with monthly sales in the 70,000 range. April sales collapsed to 32,350 (lockdown) but by July sales had returned to winter levels of 71,190. So despite what Estate Agents may be telling you, property sales are below average, down by something like 20%. You can dress it up, but that’s the reality of completed sales. That said, according to Nationwide average prices recovered in July and increased in August by 3.7%. They also note that the 2010s has been the weakest decade for property prices up 33% over the decade compared to 180% in the 1980s. Low interest rates and the credit crunch being the suggested main factors.

YOU HAVE MORE MONEY? LET ME SHOW YOU…

Some warn that the reduced stamp duty tax will not be passed on, as sellers push prices to cover their own stamp duty on property over £500,000. In short, the young are paying above the odds. Some expect prices to fall as demand slows in April next year when the stamp duty break ends. Then there is Brexit, which is now a sub-heading of the national conscience, but it would appear that the Government have little real idea if agreement can be reached.

This might prompt a reduction in prices (nobody knows) which tends to happen when a tax advantage ends and a recession is happening. So those thinking of buying this autumn or winter that are looking at property priced under £500,000 face the increased risk of buying at a peak value and a collapse. They have to counter this with the benefit of stamp duty savings. A property valued at say £400,000 currently has no stamp duty, from April such a sale price would result in £10,000 of Stamp Duty. That said, £10,000 is only 2.5% of the purchase price (£400,000) it would not be inconceivable to see prices fall by 15% (£60,000 in our example). This may wipe out your deposit and possibly mean that you have negative equity.

THE THING IS – WE DO FORGET

Turning to relatively recent property crashes, the 1990s provided some of the harshest lessons for homebuyers. The worst decade for price rises – even London only increased by 40%. Some of you may remember MIRAS, which was tax relief given to borrowers. Nigel Lawson changed the terms of MIRAS so that unmarried couples could not claim it from August 1988. He announced the changes in April 1998 which provided 4 months of “opportunity” which pushed up prices to bubbling point. When the relief was lost repayments went up. The overpriced market peaked in 1989 with an average price in London of £97,667 but then fell back to £66,573 by the end of 1992. A fall of £31,094 or more importantly 31%. When inflation is factored in, prices didn’t really recover from 1988 until 2001.

A decade later (April 1998) MIRAS was again reduced to the point of being almost worthless and finally abolished by Gordon Brown two years later in 2000. Its been 20 years since MIRAS ended. There has been some tinkering with Stamp Duty which was altered from a flat rate system to a tiered rate system from December 2014. This was done in an attempt to curb price rises particularly in London. In Q4 of 2014 the average national price was £189,002 by Q2 2020 it was £220,133 (up 16%). In London the average price was £406,730 and is now £475,448 (also up 16%). So the gap has not widened, but equally it has not shrunk (so the strategy neither worked not “failed” but it certainly didn’t change anything). The numbers are certainly larger and London remains the most expensive part of the UK.

IF IT WORKS, IT WOULD BE UNUSUAL

So over the last 32 years tax changes to residential property has created a quick spike and then collapse in prices (1988-1992) and it has also effectively done nothing (2014-2020). Chancellor Rishi Sunak would be making a little history if his policy didn’t fail or do nothing of substance.

If history were to repeat itself, which let’s face it, tends to happen more as an echo than a direct repetition, then there is the prospect of a 31% fall (88-92). That would mean someone buying in 2020 for £400,000 would potentially be contemplating their home revalued at £276,000. It could be a decade before prices recover.

We have short-term memories and forget what has happened. First time buyers have no memory of a property crash, (indeed some of my detractors on social media appear to have no memory at all). Lenders are currently very reluctant to lend more than 90% and many will struggle to get a competitive loan with more than an 85% mortgage. So with our £400,000 example, that’s a deposit of £60,000 and if a third gets wiped off by 2022, the £340,000 mortgage would be higher than the value of the property (£276,000) for some time…

FORECASTS ARE NOT MY THING

The truth is we simply do not know what will happen. We do know that Brexit will happen (we do don’t we?). We know that we are in a recession. When recessions happen, jobs are lost, money is tight, homes get repossessed (1991 was the peak for repossessions). We know that interest rates are at all time lows which implies only one likely direction for the cost of borrowing (upwards). So would you buy to save £10,000 on stamp duty before March or would you wait a couple of years and either buy the same property for 30% less or simply buy a bigger place.

IN SHORT- BE PREPARED TO LIVE WITH YOUR DECISIONS

This is a gamble, I have no idea what will happen, perhaps property price rises will return to 1980s levels, but that would likely mean inflation is out of control and interest rates could be much higher than they are now (which I think is unlikely). I do not know – nobody does. We are due a correction – any sensible person knows that property in the South East is overpriced. The only consolation I can offer is that if buying, make sure you do so knowing the above and that you might be stuck for a decade. Fine if you are a young couple in a flat, but not that great if you start to have a family. Lose your job or your relationship falls apart. Perhaps “nothing” will happen. I do not know, but I’m not sure I’d bet my house on it.

SOLOMONS IFA UK AVERAGE PROPERTY PRICES 74-20

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

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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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HOT PROPERTY?2020-11-01T08:43:43+00:00

CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING

TODAY’S BLOG

CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING

Whatever your view about coronavirus, I would prefer to trust explaining and treatment of any virus to a properly qualified medical expert rather than a member of Parliament. The focus on deaths is purely one measure of the virus, nothing more. As yet there is no (or very little) data about the long-term impact of the virus on individuals. A life lesson I learned many years ago is that investors over-estimate the short-term and under-estimate the long-term. That is true of everyone, not simply investors. We have short, flawed memories.

As for covid, many suffer ongoing symptoms months (currently known as long covid) after first contracting the illness. To measure the danger of virus based purely on deaths is rather like measuring road traffic deaths and concluding that they are low.

A NEW GREEN CROSS CODE FOR HEALTH

In 2018 in the whole of Britain 1,784 people were killed in reported road traffic accidents, yet there were 25,511 (14x) seriously injured casualties and a further 133,302 (74x) slightly injured casualties. Focus on the number that died out of a population of about 66.27million does not mean that just because “only” 0.003% died none of us should wear seatbelts or observe the highway code.

The uncomfortable truth is that we do not yet know the long-term (or even short-term) impact of covid on public health. We hope and look forward to a vaccine. However as with road accidents, there are a great (vast) number of people that will be impacted with poorer health.

SOLOMONS IFA - MORNING WALK IN THE FOG

BEYOND HEADLINES

In a related theme I noticed a fairly stark statement by a local politician. “10,000 deaths a year in London from air pollution”. Let me be clear, I am not a climate change denier, but I didn’t believe the statement. Instinctively it didn’t feel right. So I checked. In London (inner and outer) there are about 50,000 deaths a year in total. That’s everything from infant mortality, “old age”, cancer, road deaths, murder, suicide – the works. There is no way that 20% of those are due to air pollution. Everyone dies in the end.

IN A HAZE

Certainly you may notice the air quality in London being poor or awful at times, there is room for improvement (always). However, this is to forget the context. Take the Great Smog 5-9 December 1952. Estimates at the time were that 4,000 people died as a direct result, with 100,000 made ill, some of them very seriously indeed. Actions were taken to improve the quality of London air and have been ever since. The number of deaths registered in London has fallen enormously over the years. I have found data to 1966, some 14 years after the Great Smog there were 87,991 deaths (London) in 1966 some 5 years later this has reduced to 84,990 in 1971. Thereafter each subsequent decade later the numbers reduce. By 2011 the number had fallen to 46,685. Last year the figure stood at 49,007. Admittedly increased since 2011, but then so has the population from about 47.9m in 1966 (England and Wales) to 57.4m by 2014.

PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE

Data always requires a context and this invariably requires looking back. The main problem with financial planning is that we look forwards, often forgetting how far we have come. It is important to remember what things were like, this provides confidence that the future is hopeful. As for wondering if financial planning is important, think back to your own childhood and the cost of a stamp – look it up (if you were born before decimilisation you will have to convert imperial). One of the basics of financial planning is to keep your spending power rising or at least equal to inflation so that you can still afford your lifestyle, fear of the future is likely to be your worst enemy. Do not under-estimate the future or forget the past.

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

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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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

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

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CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING2020-09-15T16:22:39+01:00

JUDY – A STAR IS BORN

TODAY’S BLOG

JUDY – A STAR IS BORN

The new film “Judy” about the last year of Judy Garland’s life is now on general release. Renee Zellweger gives an impressive performance or perhaps impression of the troubled Garland.

50 Years – 1969 Tempus Fugit

Judy Garland died on 22 June 1969, just a few days before the moon landing. She died of an overdose of barbiturates, at a rented property in Chelsea. The overdose was probably a culmination of a lifetime of pill-popping, established by the shameless manipulators of a young girl. The irony that even then “we” could land on the moon but fail so spectacularly to address mental health problems is bad enough, yet today, whilst mental health and well-being are on the list of hot topics, the progress is painfully slow.

The Yellow Brick Road

The movie depicts a woman that struggles, we are left thinking “little wonder” not because of her talent, but due to the constant pressure she faced from childhood to perform. Bullied and harassed by her studio, the yellow brick road was certainly long and hard. When I learn about stories like these, which are all too familiar and present, there is a deep sense that those people around the individual concerned continually fail to protect and care. It seems to me that they are little more than parasites, there is no oversight of value, simply extraction.

Judy Garland - A Star Is Born Movie Poster 1954

There’s No Place Like Home..

Garland died with huge debts for 1969, she was basically swindled by her managers Fields and Begelman, was forced to sell her home and lived from hotel to hotel, reflecting her succession of husbands, all 5 of them. None appeared to offer any solace. “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home” a line a young Garland echoes across time as Dorothy from Kansas. A story I suspect we all know well. She died homeless, with an estate of just $40,000 that couldn’t meet the charitable bequests she made in her Will.

Wicked

It baffles me that advisers (of all types) deliberately rip off their clients. There are regularly stories of actors, musicians or sports stars who are often very successful in their field, but not good with money. My main professional function is to help clients to keep more of their money, to avoid financial investing mistakes, scams and waste. Getting this right provides the base for some decent planning, using money wisely. Every time I see these stories, I wonder why they didn’t have a decent adviser, why they didn’t ask me? (of course, being a minnow, how would they?).

Placed on the stage as a toddler, she rarely found attention of value outside the spotlight. The film may take some liberties, (I hope) with her treatment in London, which she had described with deep fondness previously, particularly after her 1951 tour of the UK. One scene at the Talk of the Town Club shows an embarrassingly disrespectful crowd. I hope that this is artistic license (a similar incident did happen in Melbourne, Australia in 1964).

Babes on Broadway (1941)

It takes something to have been married 5 times by the age of 46, that something is clearly a damaged psyche desperately looking for the right attachments. Her trouble with men almost certainly began way before David Rose (30 at the time) proposed to her on her 18th birthday whilst still married himself. They married a little over a year later under Studio advice. There then followed a constant supply of unsuitable men.

Thousands Cheer (1943)

The film implies that perhaps the blame for her lot is rather wider than simply the men in her life. The studios promoted the “girl next door” image and the studios made her continue to play roles that she was too old for. Their argument being that the public loved her as a “kid”. The studios were responsible for her health and wellbeing, but merely encouraged eating disorders, addictions, suicide attempts and a deep sense of inadequacy. How complicit audiences and fans are in the rise and fall of stars remains a question that we return to regularly.

Perhaps what we can take from this tale, is that, sadly, good advice is much rarer than bad advice. There are many that are willing to part you from your money and cause your ruin. Don’t be fooled, seek out good advisers that offer the invaluable, connecting you and your money with your values. Judy Garland was failed. Spectacularly.

As a movie, this is a good one. Here’s the trailer.

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

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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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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JUDY – A STAR IS BORN2019-10-03T13:18:42+01:00

THE STARRY MESSENGER

TODAY’S BLOG

THE STARRY MESSENGER

I was working with clients the other day and they noticed one of the icons in the software I was using with them. It was marked as “midlife crisis” and the icon was a sports car. They thought the IT company could do rather better with its icons (no I had not used it in their plan). However perhaps the sports car isn’t that bad an icon – a cliché admittedly. Perhaps I should suggest that they use a star now that a new play (well new to the West End) “The Starry Messenger” is running at Wyndham’s theatre.

The play explores the now recognised normality of a mid-life crisis. 50 something male falls for vivacious female, some 20 years his junior. Like him, she has baggage though I struggled to see how it even vaguely matched. Mark Williams is a teacher at the New York planetarium teaching evening classes of adult education. He loves his subject, but his va-va-voom has long since departed, his career has been side-lined to the extent that he clings to the hope of even a data entry job so that he can at least be associated with a worthy project. He laments that others are simply better at what he does than he himself. He is un-inspiring. He meets Angela, a hard-working single mother, training to be a nurse. Her genuine kindness somehow enables a relationship to develop.

THE STARRY MESENGER - SOLOMONS IFA BLOG

Ordinary Pain

There is something terribly ordinary about the play. By that I mean the ordinariness of real people living a real life. Many of us, have occasion to contend with huge disappointment and trauma. This is the bread and butter, or perhaps blood and tears of author Kenneth Lonergan. You have probably seen or lives a version of this story. The question remains whether Mark and Anne Williams will be able to face and overcome the chasm of a void in their relationship.

Extra-ordinary Plan

As someone that partakes in the new permitted addictions of social media, within my own field I regularly come across claims that lives are changed by a great financial plan. Part of me wants to agree with this, but another part also would wish to make the point that stuff happens, or as John Lennon put it “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. We can plan sensibly, even brilliantly, but sometimes life throws up a problem or two. A financial planner can help make allowance for job loss, serious illness, long-term illness, business collapse or even death itself, but all these assume relationships last. Sometimes they don’t. I would urge caution, however detailed, however much room for error has been made, life is not as predictable as we may think. That does not negate the value of a good plan (or a brilliant one) I am simply making the point that we don’t know the future and some people talk as though they do. Beware.

As for Mark, Anne and Angela – you can see their story develop at Wyndham’s. Mark is played by Matthew Broderick, most famous for his role as Ferris Bueller (1986). A casting that seems entirely appropriate, how would 50-something Ferris face the day? I wonder if he would repeat “You’re not dying, you just can’t think of anything good to do”. Elizabeth McGovern (Downton) plays Anne and rising star Rosalind Eleazar plays the luminous Angela.

The play has begun a 3-month run. You can find tickets here. Here is a short video of the cast members discussing the play and the trailer.

Cast Discussion

Trailer

How will your story play out? Get in touch to consider your options.

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

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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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

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

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THE STARRY MESSENGER2019-05-23T10:44:24+01:00

EVERYONE KNOWS, BUT NOTHING IS SAID

TODAY’S BLOG

EVERYONE KNOWS, BUT NOTHING IS SAID

I wonder if you have played Scruples. I haven’t done so for many years, I remember it as one of those ice-breaker/get-to-know-you games that occasionally got wheeled out at a student party. How truthful and how flexible with the truth are we with one another? Perhaps there has been an episode or incident in your life ,or that of a friend, where everyone seems to know something is awry, but nothing is said. To some this is friendship, to others it is dishonesty.

Money is one of those very divisive topics, aside from income and discussions about fairness, how we all spend it and use it tends to be something that is often hidden. We see some degree of opinion exposed in the media, largely chastising both the very wealthy for their luxury spending and those that are poorer – spending money on “non-essentials”. To say that it is a loaded and often heated topic would be an understatement.

All My Sons, London Old Vic Solomons IFA Blog

A Financial Plan based on reality

The problem for you and I is that in order to provide any meaningful financial plan, you have to declare your real-world spending, so that I can build a plan to enable you to continue to maintain your lifestyle, but also attempt to help more of your own money stick to you. What good is it if I build a plan to deliver an income of £30,000 a year when £45,000 is actually needed. This is a precarious aspect of the adviser/client relationship. In the nearly 3 decades that I have been advising clients, I have very rarely met anyone that hasn’t struggled with completing a spending plan. I have been told the experience is difficult, it raises issues of where has the money gone and what have I to show for it?

The intention is not to expose, embarrass or shame, simply to understand and see things for what they are, without value judgement. I cannot see how I can do a proper job for my clients without understanding how much money they have and need each month to support their lifestyle. Honesty about where we are now is vital in order to enable us to reach the future together. Financial denial is no different from any other form of denial. It can feel comforting, but there are consequences to failing to face realities.

Family Secrets 

I was reminded if this as I was watching “All My Sons” by Arthur Miller (1947). A powerful play that I had seen before in 2010. The play is based on a true story. The main characters all know a discomforting truth which is shameful. The neighbourhood also all know of this, perhaps discussing in private, but otherwise ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room. Whilst a son, a missing in action pilot, acts as the delusion in which others share, it is merely representative of a deeper, darker truth, that a great injustice has been done. In many senses exposing this discomforting truth is a patriotic and righteous act. In reality Miller, was called before the House of Un-American Activities (hard to comprehend this today) on 21 June 1956 to explain himself for writing the play, which casts a wary eye over the American Dream.

To have the future you want, we need to understand your goals and the reality of your situation. Everyone is entitled to dream, but my job is to build a path to the future, not prop up ladders to castles in the sky.

If you don’t know the play I will not spoil it for you, but at the heart is the sense of blood money – or at least money earned deceitfully.

“Chris, I want you to use what I made for you … I mean, with joy, Chris, without shame … with joy…. Because sometimes I think you’re … ashamed of the money…. Because it’s good money, there’s nothing wrong with the money.”

It doesn’t have to be like this… 

I’m not implying that clients earn their money deceitfully! – I’ve only had one instance where this was actually the case and we didn’t proceed… well you don’t want to upset a mercenary really do you! We all know that money is loaded with sentiment, assumptions and values – many learned from our families or social structures. Money doesn’t have to be divisive, secretive or delusional. We can talk about it honestly.

As for the play, currently it is being performed at the Old Vic and stars Bill Pullman and Sally Field until the 8th June. In my honest opinion, it is Colin Morgan as Chris Keller that delivers the strongest performance. One definitely to watch. Here is the trailer and click here for tickets.

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

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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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

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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EVERYONE KNOWS, BUT NOTHING IS SAID2019-05-15T14:22:05+01:00

Mission Impossible – Fallout

Mission Impossible – Fallout

The latest in the Mission Impossible series is now doing the summer blockbuster rounds in cinemas across the country. The six-film series has had a mixed reception over the 12 years since the first film directed by Brian de Palma. Known for its over-the-top stunts all 6 films cost a combined $828million. The return to date, with the latest film only just having opened is now in excess of $2.9billion. That’s a payback that would make most villains happy and as predictable as shots of Tom Cruise running, speeding on a motorbike, hanging to an aircraft, climbing or jumping.

This latest film is arguably the best, with a gripping, tense tale of a plot to save the world from three suitcase sized nuclear bombs. There are motorbike and boat chases across beautiful Paris, the standard Tom Cruise run across London, from St Pauls to the Tate (though why he didn’t use the millennium bridge is a mystery). Finally, a helicopter sequence over Kashmir, all in pursuit of (spoiler alert – perhaps the most obvious double agent in movie history) August Walker played by Superman himself, Henry Cavill. Note Mr Cavill is 35 and 1.85m, Mr Cruise is now 56 and 1.7m and managing to defy age in the way that LA residents do.

Mission Accomplished

Despite the obvious implausibility with this type of movie, its undeniably gripping for all 147 minutes. Throw in a few jokes and pepper with a cast (Rebecca Ferguson, Alec Baldwin, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Angela Bassett, and Michelle Monaghan) that fill magazines, then it’s a fairly safe bet that this latest movie will be a hit. How they get London, Paris or Berlin to close down for some of the sequences is beyond me, but kudos to whoever pulled that off.

Who To Trust

As with all things IMF, there are questions posed about who can be trusted, aligned interests and then stakes so high that results are more important than methods. This is perhaps what investors feel when confronted by the choice of an IFA, restricted adviser, financial planner, wealth manager or stockbroker. It is possible that they can work well together, but in my experience,  to do so, interests don’t simply need to be aligned, but all need to clearly understand that the client brief is the mission – nothing more, nothing less. Where this becomes impossible is when there is no plan, simply to “manage money” or arrange a financial product. This leaves plenty of scope for other interests to take hold and leave the client with a deep sense of mistrust.

Your Mission…

As financial planners, it is my belief that the regulator is largely right about transparency, revealing details to expose truth. The problem is that many will continue to find a loophole, work an angle or simply misdirect and in my opinion, trust is earned by keeping promises, not by providing information. As I knuckle down to writing yet another hefty report and wish that everyone could be happy with a short, clear and well-presented message that then self-destructs after 5 seconds, this is not my reality, or yours.  I imagine that writing a report for Ethan Hunt, with all the possible scenarios of things that have been considered, the costs, options and possible risks, it may run to rather more pages than any report I have prepared to date… so a small comfort for those of us that prefer to cut to the chase – getting on with achieving the mission – yours, should we choose to accept it.

Here is the trailer.

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

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Mission Impossible – Fallout2018-07-31T12:19:47+01:00

Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross

The 1984 play by David Mamet opened in London last week. I had seen the 1992 film but had not the play. They are certainly different. To my mind the characters in the film generated more sympathy than those in the play. Whatever your view, the performances are strong, but perhaps not as strong as the language which is about as “locker room” as you can get, as clashing egos and dysfunctional ideas about masculinity are spat across the space between characters.

These are “men” that have a fluid understanding of truth, it seems that they believe that it serves their purpose to be economical with the truth. Selling whatever they can for as much as they can to whomever they can. We are all probably familiar with the hard sell and yet despite it being largely frowned upon here in Britain, we are all still regularly blitzed by people trying to grab our attention. This week I’ve had the customary junk emails, a few text messages and a call or two about an accident that wasn’t my fault and never happened. Selling, sadly, is a regular bedfellow of scamming.

Always Closing

Anyone in business will recognise the constant problem of attracting and obtaining new customers. Those that provide a particular product may only ever sell it once, as opposed to those that sell a service. It is telling that in the play, none of the characters really possess much by way of a sense of ethics. Sadly this is nothing new and of course the notion of hypocrisy (at best) lying (at worst) is familiar in almost any sector of society and unique to none. To the salesman (person) the enquiry or “lead” is their opportunity to close a sale. However bad or unethical selling can only lead to a failed business and one that closes.

A Brood of Vipers

I have never really understood those that knowingly and deliberately lie in order to make a sale. Financial services (my sector) is of course one where many sharks and charlatans have resided. Life may be harder for them now, but invariably they exist and find a way to part people from their money with apparent ease. Some “advisers” often refer to the “good old days” of financial services, by which they mean earning a commission for selling products. It may interest you to know that back in those good old days there were about 250,000 people selling financial products, primarily in person, often at your doorstep. Today there are around 25,000 authorised individuals who are able to provide advice and arrange “stuff”. Of those probably no more than 5,000 are financial planners, who, like me, don’t need to arrange “stuff” to get paid and provide a valuable service to clients, but of course most of us will arrange investments and the like as required.

Money Interest

Money is invariably the barrier to an honest conversation. In 2013 after much mucking around the regulator of the day banned most forms of commission (note I started the firm in 1999 completely removing commission). In January 2018 the rules will be taken to a higher level due to a European agreement (MIFID2). This will mean advisers and product providers need to be crystal clear about their charges and agree terms for their service. This is coming from a sensible, laudable intention of protecting investors, unfortunately I can see very few benefits at this stage, at least for those that are already provided with a costed and agreed service, as our clients are. If anything, people are more likely to make more bad decisions, focussed on cost rather than value. One of the new rules is quarterly valuations and prompt/immediate notification if a portfolio falls by 10%. These sort of actions tend to panic investors and shift their focus to the short-term rather than the long-term benefits of disciplined investing and having a proper financial plan.

Unintended Consequences… again

Your in-boxes will become fuller of correspondence, which will in turn lead to either inertia or anxiety, perhaps both. This is likely to be followed by the current serpent de jour, dressed as a helpful paramedic, but actually seeking to suck a pint of blood or two for themselves – the ambulance chasers will find some way to bombard you and convince some, many perhaps that their portfolio will only ever rise and if it doesn’t or didn’t, please take a ticket and join the queue for those seeking remedy or the fantasy of one. To my mind the equivalent of worrying that an egg was broken when the intention is to make an omelette. If I’m sounding fed up or perhaps “aggressive” this is because, well I am certainly tired of pointless changes, but equally aware that we will need to do more work, for no benefit, which will result in higher costs and fees, which will inevitably be passed on to clients. It won’t really deter the liars or crooks, perhaps it will make like marginally harder, but those are people that never play by the rules and would never offer you anything of value.

As for the play, well it’s on in London near Embankment tube. It has not been updated (if it has I cannot see where). It has contains some very uncomfortable language – racism and sexism which jar and are not helpful to the underlying message of the play. Of course it deals with bigger topics such as the dog-eat-dog world that forms of capitalism create, where collaboration isn’t in evidence, but rather ruining your peers helps your own cause. Starring Christian Slater, Kris Marshall, Oliver Ryan and Don Warrington to name a few. Get your tickets here – (warning – very sweary!)

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

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Glengarry Glen Ross2017-10-31T18:57:10+00:00

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

I have been enjoying several films at the BFI London Film Festival. One that stood out for me was “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” which is adapted from the book by Peter Turner. It tells of the unusual relationship between a young Peter Turner and former film noir femme fatale, who most are likely to have seen but perhaps not remember – Gloria Grahame.

Grahame’s career in film began with a small part in “It’s A Wonderful Life” you may recall how George Bailey gives Violet Bick funds to escape the small town and make a name for herself elsewhere. She won an OSCAR for her role on The Bad and the Beautiful and performed with some of the leading lights of the 1950s.

In A Lonely Place

The film is based on her encounter and 2-year relationship with Turner, who she initially meets in London whilst back treading the boards. Then in her mid-fifties, divorced 4 times and surrounded in scandal she begins a relationship with Turner, who at 27 wasn’t even born when Grahame had completed work on The Bad and the Beautiful. We are shown brief insights into her chaotic world and the scandals that inevitably ended her career in film. Her last husband, Anthony Ray, was her stepson (from her second husband) and the marriage lasted from 1960 until 1974 resulting in two children.

A Woman’s Secret

The film implies that Grahame was pretty much financially ruined, appearing to possess a mobile home / caravan on the Californian coastline. Perhaps because of 4 divorces or a career that was cut short, or even because of illness, but clearly the glamour and glitter of her star had burned out. (Spoiler) Ultimately her life is cut short due to a recurrence of cancer, though this is fairly evident as the likely outcome from the start of the film, so I’m not really spoiling it for you.

Odds Against Tomorrow

There are some broad financial lessons here. The audience laughter at a scene where two pints of beer are ordered for 90 pence, was probably the loudest in a film that clearly isn’t designed to be funny; but the long-term impact of inflation is not really the most obvious lesson here. Fame that brings financial success can be very short-lived. Life as an actor can be very harsh. Divorce is financially expensive, but of course the toll on emotional reserves may also be overwhelming. Love and tenderness are often found in unexpected places and whilst care costs, it may not have a monetary price. In a world of appearances many are in danger of making similar “mistakes” or having similar experiences.

The Cobweb

Financial protection is a modern-day (or should that be post-modern?) wonder for those without capital – providing financial stability in the event of life presenting “challenges”. Running out of money isn’t as bad as running out of time, but it’s probably a pretty close race. A proper financial plan will help reveal where your resources are and what you can do to sure them up. It enables you to take a look at the future and make some adjustments in advance if you don’t like the prospects.

Here’s the trailer for the movie, which reunites Jamie Bell and Julie Walters, this time as mother and son, whilst Annette Bening gives a great performance as Gloria Grahame.

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

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Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool2017-10-13T11:22:47+01:00

Beatriz at Dinner

Beatriz at Dinner

It’s the London Sundance Film Festival, Salma Hayek is in town with her new movie “Beatriz at Dinner”. The story revolves around Beatriz, a massage “healer” who works at a cancer centre in Santa Monica. Apparently she also does the ocassional home visit. One such client is Cathy, the wife of a very wealthy businessman Grant. Upon completing her massage, Beatriz cannot start her car, is unable to leave the lavish gated community and is invited to stay for dinner, which is a small “work-do” with Cathy and Grant.

The scene is set for polar opposites to break bread together. The guests are all fantastically wealthy and are celebrating another successful development project which will likely have an environmental impact, but make them lots of money. The king pin is Doug Strutt, something of a small parody of the current thug that is president of the US. A man who bullies his way to wealth and clearly sees amassing more and more as a “game”.

Bubbles that burst?

Naturally, Beatriz is an animal lover, who also happens to be a deeply traumatized individual who is unloved. The scene is set for a frank exchange of views and an expose on the gulf between the have’s and the have not’s, or the bubble of the one percent. However, this is a Hollywood movie, so the subject matter which may have tickled those involved with its prospects, fails to deliver anything of substance other than well-worn caricatures. I might suggest that whilst the idea seemed interesting at the time, perhaps it fails because the story is a gnats wing from life in Beverly Hills.

In the Q&A session, Salma Hayek didn’t help matters either with her ramblings about purity and frankly failing to grasp the pain of character she plays. Perhaps because she is the daughter of hugely wealthy Mexicans and has married a French billionaire, that she has far more in common with Cathy and Grant than she may care to see.

Eyes to See

In reality, it is Grant and Cathy that are more representative of the liberal elite. It is they that are confused about friendship and relationship. Whilst having all of life’s finery, they fail to see their own hypocrisy and ignore the damage done to accumulate. Of course there is a degree to which most of us are like this. It is easier to ignore the exploitation of which we are both benefactors and victims. Indeed the neurosis of buying fairly traded anything is one of many grey lines that we navigate on a daily or weekly basis and with our largely comfortable lives we can afford not to be affronted. Whether that’s the fruit and veg or the “made in somewhere without” of our garments.

Finding Your Number

From time to time, I do wonder if this is what people think a financial planner does – make you rich. Whilst I am obviously not anti-money (I hope that is rather obvious) there is a point, which is called “enough”. Most do not know where this is – as it is undoubtedly a very individual answer. All good financial planners help reveal your “number” what you need to do all that you have affirmed to be your wishes and intentions. Yes with plenty of assumptions, slack for margin of error and disasters. This is a world of difference from Doug Strutt, who by failing to identify what he values, he constantly seeks unfulfilling highs which take him further and further away from a connected life. He takes life as way of finding it. His walls become higher and higher in every sense.

Choices

Money has the power to liberate and bring choice, how it is made brings many challenges in our global economy. However we possess choices too – whether to carefully consider at what we want from life or to simply get caught up being the next king of the hill. The uncomfortable truth is that our choices impact others. Yes we all need money but from that assertion springs a lot of questions.

Here’s the trailer.

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

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Beatriz at Dinner2017-06-02T08:08:31+01:00

Their Finest

Their Finest

In these days of some rather confused notions about patriotism, any film that looks back to “the good old days” is likely to cause a few raised eyebrows. This year, films that look back at events of World War II now have a slightly different resonance. There will be several significant films released in 2017. One that has already been released is “Their Finest”.

The film is essentially about crafting a patriotic, encouraging story (propaganda) within the constraints of the reality of grave uncertainty about the future. Whilst “The War” is an obvious milestone in history, (and I might argue still has a legacy that we are living with) this is also a significant turning point in the progress of women in the workplace.  Catrin Cole (Gemma Arteton) has a flair of creative writing and together with an ensemble of men, unfit for fighting, begins her own battle for perspective… she is brought in to write the “slop” by which is meant “women’s dialogue”. Facing more than bombs falling on London from Hitler, she faces the culture of the day that appears to see women rather simplistically.

Churchill and of course Hitler, both believed in the power of film to inspire and convey their own messages. Today we are perhaps a little more sophisticated when it comes to deciphering the messages contained within, although elections tend to suggest otherwise.

A Life Story or Story of Life

It reminded me that I often talk of “the story of our life” with clients. Thankfully, here in Britain, we now live largely at peace, able to shape our own destiny to a greater or lesser extent. This is of course in large part, thanks to those that fought for our freedoms in both wars. In many senses, as in the film, we know both the beginning and the ending, perhaps a few points along the way, but there is a significant amount of gap filling. It is these smaller details that make a film believable and likeable.

The same is true of our own story. Our lives are obviously rather more than a simple tale of birth, education, work, retirement and then death. The way “retirement” is discussed would suggest that it is simply the point at which you reach 65… or later. Yet of course life certainly does not stop at retirement (which can be at any age and I would redefine as “financial freedom day” – simply the day you choose to work because you want to, not because you need to). When we demonstrate to our clients, their lifetime cash flow, it is not a simple account of what money is available. Instead it is a truly interactive demonstration of a “spending plan” or perhaps better – a life plan. This is based upon genuine goals, milestones, desires and yes, a few wishes. It enables you to clearly see what the future might look like if you take a certain course and what it would cost. The skill of the planner is in the editing – carefully avoiding over-detailed plans, whilst ensuring that they remain consistent and true to the facts.

Living Your Finest

Like Catrin, we all get to write our own stories, we do not let others write them for us, however sometimes we all need the right encouragement and space to dream. We might even call this our own form of propaganda, which is why having an impartial planner is vital to ensure that our dreams are not pipe dreams, but a pathway of choices that fit into our own story. So that you can make it your finest work. Here’s the trailer for the film.

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

Email me to get in touch
Their Finest2017-05-08T12:35:18+01:00
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