The Red Carpet Effect

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Red Carpet Experience

The demands of a voracious media upon celebrities are significant. Attending the BFI London Film Festival is one of my now annual indulgences – being able to see some great new movies and enjoy the experience of the razzmatazz. It is interesting to observe the stars, the media and the public who all play their parts in the red carpet experience. The moment is fleeting and slightly surreal. I wonder how celebrities put up with the constant attention and deal with the inevitable experience at some point of not being the centre of attention. I have to say that all those that I bumped into (some literally) along the red carpet appeared to be comfortable with the attention and I was struck by how calm their demeanour – no small feat when hundreds of people are shouting and demanding your gaze.

"Labor Day" - Mayfair Gala European Premiere - Red Carpet Arrivals: 57th BFI London Film FestivalLabor Day

Last night I saw yet another good Kate Winslet film. This time “Labor Day” (yes American). It is a moving story about a escaped convict that seeks shelter in the depressed home of divorcee Adele (Kate Winslet) who lives with her son Henry who does his best to help her struggle through the day. Both lack confidence and need a shot of inspiration which arrives in the unexpected form of Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin). I won’t divulge the story any further, but it is a reminder that in life there are often people that lift us and inspire us. I think that for me this is often the role that art, in its many forms often plays in my own life. That is not to say that inspiration always comes from a perfect or purist place, but rather, true inspiration is invariably grounded in the difficulty of real life.

 A Passionate and Connected Life

For all the gloss of financial services, the reality is that great financial planning is grounded in real life, in your hopes and experiences. It is not a wish-making factory, though I can certainly see how this can appear to be the case. I work hard with clients to help them verbalise the life that they want. We might call this a lifestyle, which can sound like a glamorous term, in practice it invariably means a life where thought has been placed into how personal values are outworked. I cannot think of a single client for whom relationships, connection to others is not one of their driving motivations. It isn’t really about the toys, but a sense of being known. Money merely provides choices, it’s a resource, my clients reflect on how they wish to use it in order to reflect their own values. This is easier said than done in a world that honours and basks in the glitz, which can be a lot of fun, but can be a lonely place, where being oneself is increasingly difficult. What I find clients are really bothered by, is a very real, passionate and connected life, themes touched on in the film – hence the blog.

The BFI Film Festival continues until Sunday 20th October.BFI FFposter2013

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

The Red Carpet Effect2017-01-06T14:39:44+00:00

Royal Baby worth £243m to UK economy… come again?

Well you certainly did not hear it here first. The Royal family has an new heir. The media coverage was and presumably continues to be… well, rather daft. Our “news” channels seem unable to deliver much to us these days other than speculation and anecdotal opinion from.. well pretty much anyone that wants to be on the airwaves.

So I was intrigued to see an estimate from the Centre for Retail Research based in Nottingham that suggested the new baby would generate “around” (seems like a fairly precise number to me) £243m for the UK economy. This is money spent on “stuff” that ultimately gets counted. Now, perhaps I’m out of touch on this, but I hadn’t noticed a whole lot of “festivities” which account for £87m. This is on extra food, drink and parties to celebrate the birth…I think I must be short of an invite or two, but really? An estimated 3m bottles of sparkling wine or champagne opened to celebrate this specific event…(where?) I suppose I’m not disputing the numbers, perhaps they are right, but 3m of a 60m population about 5% of people will actually go and buy an extra bottle of bubbly to celebrate, that’s one in twenty (aged 0 to 100+). Sound right to you? This is not bubbly that they already bought, or due to an anniversary (quite a lot of people marry in the summer)..or finish school or Uni…this is extra bubbly.

The CRR also allocate £80m for souvenirs and toys. Well this is plausible, have you seen the price of London trinkets lately? Add to this a further £76m for books, DVDs and “other media”. They even suggest that pram sales will rise 13%, which I find rather incredulous, do people really decide to have children as a result of a member of the Royal family having a baby? well apparently so.

As you may have gathered, I have some reservations about the accuracy of such forecasts and predictions. If they are correct, then perhaps we should request that the Royals reproduce every year! We would soon be out of our economic doldrums…or at least somewhat overcome by the festive hats and DVDs.

I’m not in anyway knocking the Royal family. Of course the birth of a baby is, in this instance, delightful news to his parents. What I get rather concerned about is the way our national governance and economic well-being is reduced to unproven figures, be it inflation, royal birth, benefit cheats, illegal immigration, crime, cost of the Olympic games or a BBC inquiry. I am of course mindful that the figures may well be right, but they certainly don’t sound remotely accurate.

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

Royal Baby worth £243m to UK economy… come again?2015-06-29T15:40:07+01:00

Focus – lessons from Sundance

I’m lucky enough to have fairly easy access to London and as a consequence, some really great stuff. At the weekend I managed to spend time at the Sundance London film festival (which I also attended last year). This is a showcase of independent films, largely brought over from Utah, where the Sundance organisation, set up by Robert Redford is based. The great thing is that you get to meet and hear from people that love making films. Their common trait, forgive the pun, is their focus. There is an unmistakeable sense of “doing the thing they love”. Not simply for those in front of the camera, or whose name you may know, but a real sense of drive and desire to make something that says something of value.

David Arnold, is a successful British composer, who has already built a considerable body of work within the film world. You might know him best for his work on the more recent James Bond movies. Now I enjoy music and listen to a lot of it, but to my shame, I’m not terribly much of an expert when it comes to classical music, despite my father’s operatic background, and my years in the school choir – I’m certainly no composer. So I am in some awe of those that can create music, but I had never seen the process of scoring a film so wonderfully explained. David walked the audience (of which around 50% were composers) through his catalogue and his process. He then demonstrated the various techniques he uses to structure the music to the film and build it layer by layer, whilst all the time being mindful that changes may need to be made due to editing of the film itself. It was fascinating. There was a real sense of his humility in being able to appreciate the contributions of others, whilst also remaining focused on the task at hand – for which he has a clear passion.

Whilst I’m not making music, his explanations and processes resonated with me. When I’m constructing a proper financial plan based upon someone’s values, it is very much a layered approach, with the need for editing and re-working. I like to think that on occasion I really help people find their personal rhythm in their own lives and values, but I’m stretching things. I certainly love what I do and enjoy the creative aspect of my work, but it isn’t really a masterpiece, but I do hope that I’m helping others (my clients) to make a great work of their lives, by really thinking about how they want to live them out…. not your run of the mill financial stuff.

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

Focus – lessons from Sundance2017-01-06T14:39:48+00:00

King to Pawn and seedy money? The Look of Love

Celluloid Reflections: The Look of Love

The Look of Love is a new film that was shown at Sundance London last night. It goes on general release this weekend. The film explores the life of Paul Raymond who at one point was the richest man in England. I’m not really clear who the film is aimed at. Mr Raymond derived his fortune from strip clubs in Soho and pornography, the film is most certainly an “18” and many (perhaps most) will find the admittedly “probably necessary” nudity (given the context) rather excessive. Then again, part of the purpose of the film is to help reveal how our attitudes towards sex have altered over the last 40 years or so. However, it is not a film about sex, nor is it a sex film and whilst it has comedic moments and a plethora of current comedians  in the cast (including the lead Steve Coogan) it isn’t much of a comedy either. It is much more of a biopic of a man that “had it all” but actually had nothing, rather more of a tragedy.

The main plot of the story reveals fragile relationships, a deeply dysfunctional family and an inability to draw boundaries. We see a disturbing portrayal of his relationship with his daughter, which at best might be described as “unhelpful” and at worst, deeply irresponsible. There is a sense of self-importance “we’re not normal people” and a disconnection with the reality of real relationships. A long-lost son “managed”, another son bullied and a daughter indulged, who dies of a drug overdose (I’m not giving the plot away – opening scene). A habit that was used, as is often the case, to dull the pain of reality. If the film is even vaguely accurate, Mr Raymond was certainly someone that was very confused about love and relationship. Materially successful, but emotionally bankrupt, I assumed the title of the film ” The Look of Love” is deliberately ironic.

Whilst Paul Raymond’s life may have been somewhat extreme, it is a reminder (not a new one) that few people go to their deathbed, wishing that they had spent more time at the office. To be known is to be human. Money is little more than a tool, it is not real security and it certainly is no compensation for a lack of relationship. A good financial planner doesn’t just point out that you will die one day, but will help prompt you to reflect on what you value and want from life and then build a plan around your values. Being the richest man in Britain is little more than a game, in the end all the kings and pawns go back into the box.

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

King to Pawn and seedy money? The Look of Love2017-01-06T14:39:48+00:00

Gold to Go?

Gold to Go?

For all my blogging about gold over the last few weeks, you may not be aware of the Gold To Go ATM (automatic telling machine) that now resides a short distance from me at the Westfield shopping centre. This is not to be confused with the 1990’s European TV quiz hosted by Henry Kelly.

German company Gold to Go have been gradually placing gold dispensing machines in some high-profile locations across the world. Much like a normal ATM you punch in your PIN to dispense money, though instead of your selected level of cash, you select the weight of gold bar that you require. Being German, the ATM is a remarkable and highly reliable piece of engineering, which is clearly a rather fundamental feature. Anyone that has ever used one of the car parks in Kingston Upon Thames will appreciate the problems of consistently failing machines.

Smurfing…. no not those blue fellas

This begs questions about money laundering and fraud, but apparently this is all taken care of via a form of identity check. Suddenly you can appreciate that the machine does need to work rather well. The Gold to Go website says that there is money-laundering and smurfing protection. A smurfing attack is not a hoard of tiny blue…er.. smurfs? but an exploitation of internet broadcast addressing to create a denial of service… because this ATM is plugged into the internet. It includes a personal ID scanner and camera.

All that glistens…

For those into coin collecting, this will perhaps be a temptation, indeed many may be tempted to convert cash into gold which is very neatly dispensed in mini gold bars, with local branding. Mind you, as for its original mining source, I suspect that you will not get this information printed on your receipt.

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

Gold to Go?2017-01-06T14:40:28+00:00
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