Professional Adviser Awards 2015
Last week I attended the Professional Adviser Awards held in London a stone’s throw from the Barbican. We had been short-listed, for the second time in succession for “Firm of the Year” for London. Given our size it is highly unlikely that we will ever win when competing with much larger firms in the financial capital, frankly it is a a bit of a coup that we get short-listed. However on the back of our submitted work and the judges having a look at the firm I’m delighted to say that whilst we didn’t win, we were a close second with a “highly commended”.
Those that know me will appreciate that I am constantly seeking ways to improve what we do for our clients. I am all too aware of short-comings and work hard to reduce or remove them wherever possible. So not winning, in this instance, feels absolutely right and yet still highly satisfying.
As it is awards season, it is customary to thank various people. So I would like to thank our clients, the staff, those within the industry that have assisted us to provide a great service, various peers that inspire and encourage me, friends and family that have been hugely supportive over the years and my wife and daughters for their support and understanding.
So in the spirit of improvement…. I’m more than willing to listen to ways that we can convey concepts to clients, produce easy to understand high quality material and promote independent financial advice within a proper financial planning context. Please get in touch if you have suggestions about how we may improve.
Money and Power
Perhaps my age is showing, but it is only day 6 of the new year and I am already fed up with the election campaign. I ought to be celebrating our democracy and the opportunity to hear reasoned arguments, however inevitably we seem stuck in a cycle of who will tax or cut most, the prospect of genuine change and improvement for all seems rather unlikely with the inevitable tension around money and power.
In a more reflective moment, I remind myself that this is not a dictatorship and we at least get to vote and I don’t really think we are at the mercy of a despot who has anger issues and a twitching finger poised over an end-all button. This isn’t the case for millions of “voters” around the world who are marched off to vote for egomaniacs. This in mind, a relatively new musical to arrive via New York at the National Theatre “Here Lies Love” is based on a 2010 concept album of the same name, which gives musicals a nightclub injection. If you think that a nightclub is exclusively for the “young” perhaps think agains as, the creators Fatboy Slim (Norman Cook) is 51 and David Byrne is 62. The production has the flavour of community theatre, with the execution of high-end night club. A moving stage and audience, all combine to great effect and an entertaining, immersive experience.
This is the story of Imelda Marcos, her rise and fall from power. Byrne and Cook wanted to explore what makes powerful people behave the way they do. I’m not so sure that this was explored terribly well, whilst displaying a delusional, drugged up Imelda, she isn’t portrayed that badly – a little bit too vanilla in Manilla – little about her excessive flamboyancy and penchant for hundreds of shoes. The story is chronological, revealing the fragility of her marriage, her inability to cope with her rags to riches story and a familar narcissism of Heads of State that seem to believe that they “give their all to their people”.
The Price of Democracy
There was little in the musical that gave me reason to believe such behaviour was understood or how to spot it in others and take precautionary action…so no tips for our elections. The world seems to have done little during the period of martial law and assassination of the opposition including the shooting of Benigno Aquino on the steps of his ill-advised return flight to Manilla on 21 August 1983 (age 50) which you may remember. In the Philippines, the Marcos regime was eventually cast out by a peaceful protest, following a corrupt election (February 1986) against Aquino’s widow following which the public simply decided enough was enough. Marcos and his family took US advice and support then fled to Hawaii along with 24 suitcases of gold bullion and jewellery. Sadly for Imelda this took precedent over her 2,700 pairs of shoes. It is estimated that Marcos stole over $10billion from the country, much was invested into various family related businesses and Swiss accounts. The Swiss have so far returned about $684 million. So for me, this musical, whilst being entertaining does little to understand how and why power corrupts so absolutely. Indeed one might argue that the catchy tunes, flashing lights distract from the real story… but then, perhaps that’s the point.
Top Rated Adviser
I am delighted to announce that Solomons has achieved Top Rated Adviser status and appears in The Times money section today. This is due to an impartial website called VouchedFor where you can leave a review. Due to our consistently high scores (not perfect scores) we have now become part of a very small elite group. I am very thankful to all of you that provided reviews and for taking the time to express your thoughts.
Despite the endorsement, I continue to try to improve what we do, the services we offer and making it easier, clearer, quicker and more valuable for anyone to seek advice from us. As a small firm we live and die on our service and now having celebrated our 15th year in August we are becoming more like the company I hoped to create. Its the little improvements that tend to make a significant difference, but we certainly punch above our weight and can access all of the very best solutions for our clients, using the latest technology available.
If you have a smart phone or tablet, you could try out our APP. If you wish to discuss your planning with me, please pick up the phone or send me an email.
Short-listed as “Firm of the Year” for London
I have to admit to being somewhat chuffed and a bit taken aback. I learned this morning that the firm made it to the last 8 short-list for the Professional Adviser awards 2014 for “Firm of the Year” for London. These were actually announced yesterday. I doubt I will make it to top of the list – the competition is rather good, with firms that are frequent award winners and quite a lot bigger. I do not even know how many firms entered –but as they say, “you’ve got to be in it to win it”. I had to submit a case study and then information about the firm and how we do what we do. It really is a long-shot and minnow versus the rest. Whatever the outcome, I’m really chuffed for me and the team here. We don’t find out who wins until a glitzy event in February. Whatever the result, it’s nice recognition… as a first-time entrant, perhaps I should enter a few more.
Anyway, I hope that for our clients it’s a bit of good news (that they are being served by a decent firm). Of course you can also add your own testimonials to a system firms cannot control (Vouched For). This is a completely impartial way for clients to put a few comments down about us. The blue icon is in a couple of places on this page if you wish to do so. Obviously if you aren’t a client… well do these things make any difference to you when considering who to meet? As a small business clearly I want to attract the right clients, most are recommended by existing clients, but some manage to find us on the web, so if you have any bright ideas of how we can make our difference clearer and why our clients give us good feedback, do let me know.
Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA