Are you living in La La Land?

Are you living in La La Land?

So the BFI London Film Festival is here again – celebrating its 60th yet retaining a considerable fresh approach to film which this year even includes a very good temporary cinema in Embankment Gardens… thankfully it is an indoor cinema!

La La Land is the latest film from Damien Chazelle (who Directed “Whiplash”) it’s a charming love letter to Hollywood. With all the ranting and sheer stupidity displayed in American politics (we aren’t much better) it is worth remembering what the US does best – storytelling and entertainment. Of course there are many, many things that are done incredibly well in the US, but these, to my mind stand out.

Dreams and Tension

This latest film is a musical about how difficult it can be to hold onto your dreams, particularly when so many others appear to share the same dream and perhaps have an advantage or two. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have a fantastic chemistry and remind us that despite appearing similar, timing is everything and holding the tension of a relationship and a single-minded focus on your dream can be a lonely and exclusive experience (as also explored in Whiplash).

movie poster, piano keys for La La Land

Lifestyles and styled lives

In years gone by, financial advisers were much more obviously” selling dreams”, in fact I might suggest that many were simply selling fantasies. Providing descriptions of a future version of you – helping you to imagine yourself in that yacht, with that house, driving that car… essentially marketing a lifestyle to you to consume. Today things have changed. Today a financial planner is not there to prescribe, but to help digest, encourage and help verbalise what it is that you truly want so that a plan can be crafted to help you achieve it. Sometimes significant behaviours need to change in order to have the future that you want, but in truth this is fairly rare. However, it is worth pointing out that getting a couple to think about their future does on occasion mean reflecting on whether they want one together.

Baggage that matches…

The truth can be rather difficult to swallow, sometimes uncovering aspects of a relationship that are difficult (how we handle money, why and what for). It should be obvious that a financial planner, is not a marriage counsellor, yet on occasion the conversation can lead in a direction for which a financial planner has no training at all, merely life experience. How a couple talk about money, but more importantly their goals for the future is not always easy to manage. We all bring the baggage of our experiences, values and expectations, some will be helpful, but some will not. How your own parents handled money is often just below the surface, there can often be an echo of the past in the present relationship and this can form a significant element of “how things are done” today. Let us not forget that Relate cite finances as one of the most stress-inducing aspects of a relationship, so many will simply ignore the problem hoping it will eventually go away…

And all that Jazz…

As in the movie, (which is a real homage to Hollywood musicals, the place and jazz) whilst there is a very valuable element of recognising and preserving the originals, those were ground-breaking and new, so to simply maintain is to fail to understand a key dynamic. We all need to forge our own path, which may be informed by the past but not governed by it. The difficulty is figuring out the path you want to take and whether it is one you both want… which brings its natural challenges and given voice in the romantic melancholic song “City of Stars” which you may be whistling or humming to yourself by the end.

So, having a clear and shared focus about your future is, well… vital for your financial plan to be successful. The struggle will be to confront some truths about how in-sync you are and what you’d like to do to restore your rhythm. I won’t pretend that this is easy, but the secret to any great performance is the ability to rise from the knocks, learning, practising until it appears to be easy, but “effortless” it never is…. that’s for those that really are living in “la la land”.

Your challenge is to pick up the phone or send me an email to book a time to have the honest conversation about what you really want your future to look like. No matter how  polished the final result, there is plenty of work ahead. I didn’t say that honesy is always easy to deliver or to hear.

Here’s the trailer for the new 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

Are you living in La La Land?2023-12-01T12:19:05+00:00

Honesty Report

Honesty Report

I was listening to the radio on Wednesday morning and a story that caught my attention was about a report published by Noddle, the credit rating agency. In essence their report is perhaps best described as an honesty report.

The research reveals something that anecdotally, most of us probably know already. The data, when extrapolated suggests that something approaching 1.9million couples keep financial information secret from one another. The suggestion being that this isn’t simply a case of not fully admitting how much was actually spent at the shops, or how much those birthday gifts really cost, but a rather more concerning inability or unwillingness to reveal the degree of personal debt.

The report found that 44% of married couples do not know how much their spouse earned. Relate therapist Arabella Russell and MD of Noddle Jacqueline Dewey briefly discussed some of the issues about couples struggling with honesty about money on the Radio 4 Today programme with Justin Webb. The BBC remove programming after a while, but the link is here.

Over the years I have observed many different approaches that couples take to the subject of money, all have their presumptions and “baggage” and I try to gently discover attitudes towards money, it is, as Arabella Russell outlines, so much more than simply an accounting system, how we think and talk about money connects deeply with how we think of and value ourselves (and others).

Common language

It isn’t quite the case that talking more honestly about money would save marriages, how couples communicate is more complex and frankly the territory of therapists not financial planners. However, it is clear (and obvious) that money is a one of the most significant “stress points” in any relationship. Relate’s own report “The Way We Are Now” found that 61% of adults with children, found that money worries was the greatest strain on their relationship, for those without children the figure reduced to 47%. That said, the report does provide some good news – 87% of people in couples are happy with their relationship.

Speaking Safely

When I meet with couples, it is important that both people are able to express themselves in relation to money and their hopes and fears about the future. I am often told at the end of our meeting that the experience wasn’t what had been expected… despite the website and this blog, most new prospects seem to assume that this is all “marketing” and that in fact I will “revert to type” and just talk about numbers, products and bore them to tears. For many, simply sitting down together with an impartial third (me) who asks pertinent questions about their past, present and future is a rarity. It’s different for each, but it is certainly clear that it is a welcome experience and the opportunity to get some clarity of how things really are.

Of course such a discussion needs to be conducted thoughtfully and sensitively. It isn’t therapy and it isn’t confession, to my mind its a safe space, to clarify… the issues that are raised may or may not be then requiring either therapy or confession, that is naturally dependent completely upon the couple and the information revealed. Of course this is not limited to couples, I would argue that anyone should benefit from “speaking out” what they think, feel and have experienced about money. To my mind self-awareness is vital for any financial planner operating in this way, ensuring that the discussion is about the couple or individual concerned, not their own projections.

Why is it important?

Saving relationships is simply not the domain of a financial planner, however anything that helps improve the lives of our clients – understanding their own truths and being able to reflect back the reality of things is invaluable. We all know that life can be messy, some relationships end, some very painfully, some can be improved… but we can all probably improve how we listen to one another. I have no doubt that having clarity about money (financial planning) will reduce financial stress for everyone, the real question is can you make the time to listen and be heard?

If you or someone you know are seeking therapy or couples counselling, I suggest visiting the websites of the BACP and Relate for couples.

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

Honesty Report2023-12-01T12:19:58+00:00
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