Lost pensions

Dominic Thomas
July 2023  •  8 min read

Lost pensions

The world of pensions is ever changing, a phrase that three decades ago I thought could never be uttered with a straight face, such was my naivety. The last three decades have seen a vast amount of change which has left most of us attempting to follow a paper trail of who took over who, a bit of head scratching, trying to remember who took over Clerical Medical or Friends Provident, Sun Life, Equity and Law, Norwich Union and hundreds of others.

KNOW YOUR EAGLE STAR FROM YOUR COMMERCIAL UNION

Today, the pension provider landscape looks nothing like it did. Indeed, traditional pension companies have largely disappeared or sold their legacy of pension funds to someone else. This has often not been a spectacular success, with constant promises that you (and we) are important, but evidently not important enough to answer the phone before a change of Chancellor.

1 IN 4 PEOPLE HAVE LOST A PENSION

Add in the regular movement of investors as their careers unfold and you have such a mess that not even an angry teenager’s bedroom would surpass. A recent survey (warning with them all about extracting data from a small sample to 66m people, but that said..) showed that 1 in 4 people believe that they have a missing or lost pension. I’m a little surprised it isn’t a higher proportion.

There are a multitude of small pots of pension benefits, sometimes pennies but sometimes thousands of pounds. Many of you may remember “contracting out of SERPS” in the late 1980s or early 90’s… some of these pensions have had several decades of growth and worth a princely sum. It is certainly worth checking.

PROCRASTINATION WILL COST YOU INCOME

Too regularly good intentions to “sort out my pensions” is deferred until a better time. I understand this very normal reality but it carries a cost. A lot of old pensions are very expensive by today’s standards and those charges are eating away at returns. Then of course, there is the issue of the returns themselves – are the funds appropriate, suitable to your long-term ambitions?

The good news is that even the Government have a service for lost pensions. You can find the link in our conveniently entitled “useful links” page – Lost Policy Finder. Of course, if you already have the details and they are sitting in a drawer somewhere, send us a copy so that we can assess it for you, don’t leave it until you take your retirement more seriously, we want to help you avoid using the phrase “if only I had got this to you earlier”.

GETTING READY FOR RETIREMENT… THE SOONER THE BETTER

As a not very aside, side note…. Do also have a go at our “Retirement Ready?” quiz if you are yet to retire, and please SHARE this information with people you care about, helping everyone to become more financially informed as well as financially independent, is one of our reasons for being here.

Lost pensions2023-12-01T12:12:30+00:00

Is it time to give up driving Miss Daisy?

Dominic Thomas
July 2023  •  8 min read

Is it time to give up driving Miss Daisy?

Amongst the showers that interrupted the tennis, I spotted a piece on the BBC news site. The clickbait that caught my eye “People should plan retirement from driving”. The article is about families challenging the older generation with a question about their ability to drive. Pause on that for a moment. I once heard a joke that basically said that the two things you cannot criticize anyone for are their sexual prowess and their driving. In fact, the offence to challenge either appears almost equally and deeply hurtful.

The latest attempt by the regulator to ensure the right things are being done, (without being too obviously a new lick of paint such as FSA to FCA) is called “Consumer Duty”. A large element of this is about vulnerability. In short, are you more likely to misunderstand advice or be “taken advantage of” because you are either temporarily or permanently “vulnerable”. The term is of course open to interpretation, the intention though is very well meaning.

However, such discussions are rarely easy. Imagine being told that you are no longer fit to drive. So many of us cherish our independence, which is what our ability to drive represents. Indeed if you live in a rural area, your car may be your practical connection to wider society. Yet getting this wrong (which likely means a serious accident happened) will have devastating impact. There is a huge risk of causing offence, appearing patronising or controlling, yet this is “for your own good”.

So how will you know when it is time?

I have been struck by the wisdom of several of our older clients. Two incidents stand out. The first had the foresight to not simply visit local care homes, but she booked herself in for a week or so to see what the level of care was like. She wasn’t impressed and made other arrangements. The second possesses a grasp of self-awareness and a wisdom that I hope I achieve. He knew that at some point he wouldn’t know what he didn’t know. If that sounds a little Donald Rumsfeld, its intended. In short, he wanted me to take over the reigns so that his affairs remain in top notch condition.

Most of us are reluctant to become reliant on others. We generally place very high value on our own ability to make our own choices, we also have a tendency for overconfidence in our own abilities. Ask a room of people to raise their hand if they consider themselves a “better than average driver” the majority will raise their hand, which of course statistically doesn’t hold with logic. The majority cannot be above average.

So in our planning for you, we will increasingly be faced with ever more difficult conversations as we all age about how we protect ourselves from ourselves. Our role is to speak truth and consider your future in the context of all we understand. The BBC article is a sobering reminder that we cannot ignore things simply because it may offend.

Currently your driving license expires when you reach age 70. You retain the right to renew. I remember a short film by David Ackerman starring John Cleese called “Taking the Wheel” (2002) which is an amusing take on why his 90-year-old-mother refused to give up driving.

Is it time to give up driving Miss Daisy?2023-12-01T12:12:30+00:00

ARE YOU MISUSING YOUR CASH ISA?

TODAY’S BLOG

ARE YOU MISUSING YOUR CASH ISA?

You may have gathered that I am not a fan of the Cash ISA. If you really must have one, then you need to be clear that you are getting a top rate of interest (less than 1% at the moment) and that you are not locked in for too long. If you expect rates to rise, why on earth would you lock in to one?

We all have a personal savings allowance. That’s £1000, £500 or nothing depending on your highest rate of tax. Basic rate (20%) taxpayers have a £1000 savings allowance (interest from savings) and those that are higher rate (40%) have a £500 allowance. Therefore, majority of people will have at least £500 of interest that they can earn tax free. Today that means holding around £50,000 of cash, which is a little under twice the average national income. According to ONS data to the end of the 2019/20 tax year, that’s £29,900 (median household income).

As I have said before, I am a great believer in holding cash. It provides for projects and emergency. Good planning – which is something that you already do better than most because you are here today, means getting a realistic estimate for something you intend to do and setting that aside prior to starting the project. This is therefore based on your research, quotes, and prudence to allow a sensible margin for error, or builder maths.

Wheat and Chaff

CASH FOR EMERGENCIES

Then there is your emergency fund. This is entirely subjective. It is an amount that enables you to sleep at night knowing that if something disastrous happened by the time you woke, you and your family would be able to cope financially. Things like loss of your job, the boiler breaking down, your car being vandalised or stolen, perhaps even a quick getaway fund from an abusive relationship. You might relate this number to how much you normally spend each month and hold a multiple of that.

RISKS CHANGE AS YOU AGE

Those that have a guaranteed income (people that are retired and living on State Pensions, annuities, or final salary pension benefits) arguably don’t need to worry about the loss of a job or their income. Its more likely that, if that’s you, you think of the extra income sources – from your investments or perhaps a holiday home that is let during a pandemic.

Most people will probably not need more than £50,000 (in 2021) but I did say it was subjective and personal to you. Cash doesn’t really work for you; it works for a bank who lend your money out at a rate that makes them rather more than they offer you to “store” it with them. If this drags on for months and years, you will undoubtedly see the spending power of your money reduce due to inflation. It needs to do some heavy lifting, which means investment. This comes at the price of market volatility in the short term, but if done properly, will deliver greater yields.

PARABLES ABOUT BARNS AND GRAIN

To my mind, it’s like an arable farmer keeping all their seed (cash crop) in a barn and not sowing enough. At some point, the barn will run out as its consumed or rots, missing out on all that multiplication and future harvests.

Anyway, given that most people don’t need to hold much more that £50,000 and would get the interest on it tax free anyway, there is no point using your valuable ISA allowance to give you something you already have.

Of course, this is what a plan will help determine and why understanding what the money is for and the reasons for your anxieties about money. Do get in touch.

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

ARE YOU MISUSING YOUR CASH ISA?2023-12-01T12:13:02+00:00

ARE YOU BEING SCAMMED?

TODAY’S BLOG

ARE YOU BEING SCAMMED?

OK I admit that I am often sceptical about surveys, the sample sizes are often too small to infer anything of significance. However, in this instance, even if the survey is bogus it is certainly worth reminding you about scams – and something that you can and ought to pass on to your friends.

A survey for Liverpool Victoria (LV) found that about 14% of the adult population (about 7.6m adults) have been hit by a pension scam. Double this number were concerned that they might fall prey to a scam (a pension scam to be precise). Half admitted that scams were hard to spot and around 41% wanted help knowing how to do so and how to prevent being scammed.

WHY TARGET A PENSION?

Aside from your home, your pension is probably your largest or most valuable asset. Scammers know this, they also know that the majority of people don’t know much about pensions, find them very dull and full of jargon. They often don’t realise how much they are worth and rarely treat them as though they are the family heirlooms that they are.

As your adviser (if not yet, then get in touch) I have been explaining the importance and value of your pension for many years. You know that we focus on using the most modern pensions to take advantage of pension freedoms and evidence based low-cost investment strategies. It is your future source of income (or a current one) and may well be something you leave to your beneficiaries.

ARE YOU BEING SCAMMED?

BEWARE THE FREE LUNCH (REVIEW)

However, for those that do not want an ongoing relationship with their adviser, minimising costs is a significant appeal, having a “free” pension review – well music to their ears rather than any recognition of alarm bells. For most of my working life financial advice has been generally touted as free. It isn’t, it never has been and that is frankly the biggest source of all the problems.

COLD CALLING

A friend of mine, Darren Cooke started a lobby in 2016 to end cold calling. Most advisers joined the movement which resulted in the banning of cold-calling about pensions from 2019. Yet it still happens. It is banned, but there you are.

PENSION LIBERATION

There is no such thing, unless you consider liberating your pension from you a form of liberation – I call it theft. You cannot access your pension before age 55 except for a very, very rare number of instances. Safer to assume you cannot.

Moving your pension to a SIPP (Self-Invested Personal Pension) is absolutely fine BUT only if you are using properly regulated funds within it. Not offshore weird stuff like teak farms or storage boxes, car parks or some other daft “asset” that I can actually set on fire.

NEW FREEDOMS, NEW TEMPTATIONS

Taking your pension is much easier than it used to be. There are new (2015) pension freedoms which have made pensions much better than they were. However, with greater freedom has come greater choice and increased responsibility – yours (and mine). A crook will exploit some basic knowledge (rules have changed) pander to misinformed opinions about stock markets “they are risky and lose you money” and will offer something that sounds altogether better – guarantees, no stock market involvement, high returns -much better than your cash and sometimes money now…. All for free.

Sadly, many do not remember the adage “if its too good to be true, it probably isn’t”, fewer still seek out a financial adviser and if they do, may well be befuddled by what restricted or independent means (invariably a restricted adviser will not mention it, even though they are meant to do so clearly). When a regulated adviser provides advice, he or she is liable for it. I can assure you that we take this very seriously as the liability rather unreasonably, extends beyond the grave.

HANG UP

If you have a friend that you think is being scammed or you are approached yourself, hang up the phone and get in touch with me. I have seen too many people get scammed for one lifetime. A good site to check out is the FCA SCAM SMART site.

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

ARE YOU BEING SCAMMED?2023-12-01T12:13:05+00:00

HOW MUCH FOR A HAPPY RETIREMENT?

TODAY’S BLOG

HOW MUCH FOR A HAPPY RETIREMENT?

Doubtless your will have heard of Which? Magazine. They conducted a survey recently in an attempt to understand how much is really enough for people to have a comfortable retirement. They concluded that a two-person household needs an average annual income of £26,000 for a comfortable retirement.

However you have coped with the pandemic, many people have not been able to spend money in the way they normally would. Many have saved the sums that would have been spent on holidays, travel, commuting, work clothes, weekday lunches, meals out and so on. This has given many of us the opportunity to pause for thought and reflect on how much we spend and the lifestyles we lead.

Some people have elected to retire earlier than they had planned, some have had this forced upon them. In practice, the warning signs for higher unemployment have been around for some time. We shall all begin to see the reality of things once the lockdown ends properly and the furlough system comes to an end. I do not see this going well. I implied, no… I stated that the Budget in March worked on the assumption of unemployment rising by 500,000 over the next 2 years with the largest increase in the current 2021/22 tax year.

A BREAD & BUTTER LIFESTYLE

£26,000 OR £19,000

Anyway, many have been giving thought to how much income they are likely to need when they stop earning. In February, Which? asked around 7,000 retirees about their spending.

The findings can be used as a guide to how much people are likely to spend and how much they might need to save, factoring in the state pension and tax bills. Couples need a pot of around £155,000 alongside their state pension to produce the annual income for a comfortable retirement of £26,000 via pension drawdown – or just over £265,000 through a joint-life annuity. Two-person households would need around £442,000 in a drawdown plan to fund the luxury retirement target (£41,000 per year) – or £589,000 if they’ve taken the full 25% tax-free lump sum available at the outset. If you opt for the guaranteed income provided by a joint-life annuity, you’ll require an initial fund of around £757,000.

For single-person households, achieving a comfortable retirement would mean a pot of around £192,290 alongside the state pension to get to an annual income of £19,000 via pension drawdown, or £305,710 through an annuity. For a retirement at the ‘essential’ level, single-person households would need £77,350 in a pension drawdown or £123,365 to buy an annuity plan to meet an annual target income of £13,000. A couple receiving the current average amount of £155 each per week will get just over £16,000 a year to add to private pensions. Pension drawdown figures are based on the savers withdrawing all of their income over 20 years from the age of 65, with investment growth of 3%, inflation at 1% and charges levied at 0.75%.

TWADDLE – THAT THING ABOUT ASSUMPTIONS

So let me respond by clearly saying “twaddle!” but it’s a helpful guide.That is all it is, there are huge holes in the assumptions and thinking, for starters, assuming a 2 decade retirement. Life rarely happens so “neatly”.

Over the years our processes have evolved with the technology that is available. We stress test your financial plan each week. Considering the likelihood of your life expectancy to the tenth percentile… which means the 1 in 10 chance you live a really long time. We consider sustainable income levels that fluctuate with inflation and changing investment returns based upon historical facts rather than regulatory unicorn utopias.

In any event, why would you care about a survey where your lifestyle is dictated? Surely your financial plan should be about protecting and ensuring that your current lifestyle endures as long as you do…. Or do you want less?

That’s why it is important, no – why its vital to have your own plan, based on sensible assumptions that we review together. Unless you have some mind-blowing news for me, you get one life and the clock is ticking. So have your own plan, know what you want and check with us that you are on track.

Need help? Know someone that does? get in touch... share the truth. It won’t hurt.

Its Your Lifestyle: how much is enough?

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

HOW MUCH FOR A HAPPY RETIREMENT?2023-12-01T12:13:06+00:00

RETIREMENT PLANS BEFORE ITS TOO LATE 50+

TODAY’S BLOG

50+ SLEEPWALKING TO RETIREMENT NIGHTMARE

A growing number of people are at risk of being unable to afford a decent standard of living after retirement, according to a new report released this month. The report, ‘What is an adequate retirement income?’ estimates a quarter of people approaching retirement, the equivalent to five million people, are at risk of missing out on the income they need.

The report by the Pensions Policy Institute, sponsored by the Centre for Ageing Better, warns millions of people between the age of 50 and the State Pension Age are running out of time to prepare financially for retirement. That’s about 11 million people.

  • Around 3 million will not receive a minimum income
  • Around 5 million will not receive a personally acceptable income
  • Around 10 million will not receive a comfortable income

As a reminder, someone turning 50 this year would have been born in 1971, the year that T-Rex had a summer hit single “Get It On”, Clive Dunn was number 1 with “Grandad” and Rod Stewart “Maggie May”. The year that Gary Barlow, Clare Balding, Amanda Holden, Charlie Brooker, Ewan McGregor and David Tennant were all born, I doubt any of these will have a pension problem, but the majority of those born before 1971 look set to do so. It was also the year that the great David Hockney (83 and still working) completed one of his most famous works “Mr & Mrs Clark and Percy” (below) You can see Hockney’s work “The Arrival of Spring, Normandy 2020” at the Royal Academy until 26 September 2021.

Hockney 1971 Mr & Mrs Clark & Percy

PAIN IS COMING FOR THE UNPREPARED

The research found a low state pension, increasing unemployment and the transition to workplace pension schemes reliant on employee contributions are all factors leading to this risk. It warns this is an immediate cause of concern for those currently in their 50s and 60s. Not only that, but generations to come also risk being pushed into poverty if action isn’t taken to address financial insecurity in retirement, the report warned. It found 90 percent of people of all ages with Defined Contribution pensions may be at risk of falling short on their expected retirement income.

Despite recent measures such as auto-enrolment having resulted in more people saving into their workplace pensions, savers aged over 50 spend less time in auto-enrolment schemes and consequently benefit less. Most pension contributions remain inadequate, and challenges for savers have been exacerbated by COVID-19. The report also highlighted that those aged over 50 had the highest redundancy rate during the pandemic and warns that this age group is more likely than younger groups to experience long-term unemployment.

Worryingly, increasing job losses and unemployment levels may result in the generation currently approaching retirement being pushed out of work and left with a pension that does not provide them a decent standard of living. The report calls for a new consensus on what adequacy means, urging the Government to build a consensus between employers, industry, unions and individual stakeholders on what an adequate income in retirement is. Furthermore, Ageing Better is calling on employers to match workplace pension contributions at a higher rate, as well as better support for groups at risk of financial insecurity.

Hopefully your financial plan demonstrates that you will have enough or you know what the future looks like and have a plan to do something about it. However, I do want to labour this point… many of your peers, friends and family are unlikely to be as well prepared as you. Whether its Mr & Mrs Clark or Smith, the vet bills for Percy will be fairly unwelcome in retirement. So please urge them to get some advice, send them this blog post in an email and tell them to get in touch with us. I know the pictures of you finally out and about enjoying normal life after lockdown are all good to share, but do your real friends a favour, share our details with them! We can help prepare them for the future, making the most of the remaining time.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

RETIREMENT PLANS BEFORE ITS TOO LATE 50+2023-12-01T12:13:07+00:00

AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH

TODAY’S BLOG

AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH

Following a recent move, I find myself living relatively close to the lovely area of Box Hill, just one of many areas of natural beauty that the Surrey Hills have to offer. Naturally, I decided to climb this vast (in my eyes) hill armed with my new-found affinity for going on walks, borne out of the depths of multiple National lockdowns – I’m sure that many of you will relate.

With some effort (made harder by my choice to climb in a practically vertical fashion up the 275 large steps to the summit instead of one of the rather more gentle inclines available), I made it to the top of the hill. I sampled the magnificent views and treated myself to a coffee – I felt that I’d earned it. I thought that the hard part was done.

Alas, I was wrong. My descent back down the hill was treacherous beyond imagination, leading to more than a few dicey moments and a poignant feeling of regret at my frankly dreadful choice of footwear. I lived to walk another day, though I’m sure that it was touch and go there for a moment!

As many of you already understand, accumulation of wealth is the growing of capital through various different means, most commonly saving and investing. We’ll call this ‘the climb’. This is the process involved in a financial plan that often comes to mind first and without doubt takes hard work, discipline and a detailed plan in order to reach any goals discussed at the outset. You would not be blamed for placing the greatest amount of importance on this stage. But what about decumulation?

In contrast, decumulation of wealth is the direct opposite of accumulation – utilising your capital (sometimes referred to as ‘spending down’) to cater for any one person’s particular needs, most often in retirement. We’ll call this ‘the descent’. This sounds like a wonderful situation to be in, and it is, but there are many potential pitfalls that one could fall into without proper thought and planning. Enter your financial planner. To ensure that you use the assets that you have worked so hard to accumulate over many years in the best, most efficient way possible – in order to allow you to continue to live the life you want to live – for us here at Solomon’s, that is what financial planning is all about.

So it’s important to remember that there are at least two sides to every hill – and any good climber will tell you how important it is to plan for traversing the other side. The descent can require as much consideration as the climb.

Daniel Liddicott
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on our blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to Dominic 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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

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

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH2023-12-01T12:13:08+00:00

Book Club

Book Club

Book Club is a present-day check-in of life as an older woman in 2018. Four female friends of “retirement age” meet regularly at their own private book club, taking turns to select a book for discussion. Vivian (Jane Fonda) encourages them to study “Fifty Shades of Grey”. Thus, begins a diet of mixed reactions to the book which inspires or encourages each of them to rediscover their “mojo”. This movie had the potential to explore and expose this apparently mysterious type of individual, the media invisible sixty-plus (some may argue forty-plus) female of the species. It also had the potential to be very funny.

There has been a welcome increase in the number of films released and aimed at the more mature market. Whilst it is possible to find many examples of films that include people over the age of 55, there are not that many by comparison. Hollywood and the world media at large are enchanted by youthful looks. A more healthy and realistic approach to representation in all forms is a welcome relief to a diet of heroes, fast cars and bullets. Perhaps I am too reductionist, but you know what I mean.

Pleasantville 1998 (had more to say 20 years ago)

Granted there are some funny moments, but the movie fell short, still concluding that fulfilment is only found through a man. Whilst I might agree that a form of fulfilment comes through a deep relatonship (for billions of people) it is not true for all. It is evidently not the case that only a man can make anyone else “fulfilled”. Neither do most women have the economic advantages that certainly three of these four have. The character of Diane is arguably the most perplexing, her husband died relatively recently and her overly concerned daughters Jill (Silverstone) and Adrianne (Aselton) want to move her out of  her beautiful Santa Monica and into their own renovated slip-free basement in “Pleasantville” because they fear she is too frail.. which stretches belief for many reasons. It is Diane that is swept off her feet by the alluring, just happens to be fabulously wealthy, Mitchell…. The portrayal of such neurotic daughters and their incredulity about their mother do not aid the female cause and are utterly unnecessary within the story.

LA LA Land

It’s not simply women that are stereo-typed. Most of us men don’t own a plane, don’t look like Don Johnson (Arthur) or Andy Garcia (Mitchell) either, and most of us cannot compensate by being half-decent mechanics or even vaguely passable dancers. Perhaps its my gender bias the felt that the male story-line crisis was more thoughtful. That said, I frankly did not understand the plot purpose of Federal Judge Sharon’s ex-husband Tom (Ed Begley who is 69) announcing his engagement to Cheryl (Mircea Monroe who is 36) whilst celebrating their son’s engagement.  Surely this was a set up for comedic gags that never materialised.

The truth is that this is a very LA centric group of women. There are 4 good actresses – Diane Keaton (72) plays Diane, Jane Fonda (Vivian) is 80, Candice Bergen (Sharon) is 72 and Mary Steenburgen (Carol) is 65. Yet all still must conform to the Hollywood image in a way that their male counterparts simply do not. This movie did nothing other than play it safe.

Every Stage

What on earth can we apply to financial planning? … well, for starters, life is for living and anything alive changes, be that through personal growth, death, sickness, divorce or any number of reasons. We can plan so much, hopefully few clients reach retirement and have a crisis of identity, but there is no sugar-coating the reality that this is a major life adjustment. In practice, most would be wise to consider the transition into retirement is likely to take adjustment – a 2 year adjustment would not seem unreasonable.

We can certainly help and plan for financial independence and the maintenance of dignity, by having sufficient resources or sufficient adjustments to lifestyle. These are hard truths, we are all aging, no amount of cosmetic surgery can alter the reality, merely the appearance of it. The greatest value is surely ensuring that you are living life on your own terms whenever possible. A great financial plan will provide you with the structure and financial architecture to ensure yours come to fruition. Money can offer freedom, but some will never live it.

Its fine as a “Rom-com” but falls way short of an address to Hollywood in the age of #MeToo, which is a pity. Here’s the trailer, but be warned – if you watch it, you have seen 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

Book Club2023-12-01T12:18:01+00:00

The Eye of Truth – Mindhorn

The Eye of Truth – Mindhorn

It seems that we are living in a time of “alternative facts” of course we aren’t it is merely that certain politicians and business leaders wish us to believe their point of view rather than reality. So perhaps there is a certain sense of good timing for a bionic eye that enables truth to be seen. However, as with most things, the irony in this instance, is that the possessor of the bionic eye, (Mindhorn) is blind to his own shortcomings.

Mindhorn is a new comedy about a TV actor “Richard Thorncroft” (Julian Barratt) playing a detective “Mindhorn” in the 1980s. Now many years later, the type cast, washed up actor is struggling to maintain his dignity in a world that has forgotten him. He is rescued by a serial killer; whose own delusions mean that he believes that Mindhorn is real. As a result, reluctantly the local Police call in Mindhorn for one last performance to entrap the villain.

Bodie & Doyle meet Steve Austin and Knight Rider

Being comedic, this has the potential to be a rip take of any and every TV detective since Bodie and Doyle at CI5 with references as broad as the lapels. How one man is stuck in the past of his glory days and failing to embrace the present, or indeed the uncomfortable truth of reality. Sadly, the film, like many, has all of its best bits in the trailer. There are some funny moments, but this is a fairly tame affair which could have been so much better, despite being rammed with an impressive collection of actors, who all must have also thought that the concept was good, but the final delivery…. Hmm. Take comfort in the fact that there are as many twists as there are in a straight piece of wood, which certainly could not describe the acting, but recycled pulp is probably not far off the truth about the script.

Former Glories

On occasion, we all meet people that are an echo of their former greatness. Whilst I can accept that with age limitations do apply, particularly the laws of physics! It seems such a missed opportunity to not live fully irrespective of age. I’m sure that like me, you meet many that do. Retirement can seem like a fairly scary subject for some people. What on earth will they do with their time? Just endless rounds of golf and bridge? Well, I can assure you that the retirees that I advise all have very active lives, in fact most are more active than ever before. I’d argue that retirement is nothing to fear at all – infirmity however, well, that’s a different thing entirely.

A Vibrant Retirement

So any financial plan, should really be set up for a full and vibrant retirement, one that reflects what you wish to do and how you intend to spend your time. Of course things may change over time and for some, infirmity may become an unwelcome compatriot, so some thought also needs to be given to the “what if?” of this prospect…. Which may or may not occur.After all, even the Duke of Edinburgh has only just annoucned that he will “retire” later this year – and he’s 96 in a few weeks time! Financial planning is very much about taking a look into the future and making some changes now, if you don’t like what you see (albeit with loads of assumptions). It is never a sense of constantly trying to restart the glory days like Mindhorn. There are some things that need to grow, some that need to die and some that simply need to be tried.

Here’s the trailer for Mindhorn. It makes a compelling pitch as a comedy, but sadly lacked the final punchline.

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

The Eye of Truth – Mindhorn2023-12-01T12:18:33+00:00

Assumption

Assumption

You will have probably heard the saying “assume – makes an ass of u and me”. Whilst this holds some truth, it naturally requires context. As financial planners, we make assumptions about the future all the time, but equally we review these on a regular basis.

Watergate Bay

Like most people, I have picked up the occasional parking fine in the course of my driving lifetime, most, on reflection, were fair. One more recent experience, where I paid and displayed, resulted in a fine as my ticket “wasn’t seen”. I didn’t keep the original ticket, (does anyone?) so I had no evidence to affirm my claim. Reluctantly I paid the fine, which left me with a fairly bitter feeling towards the car park at Watergate Bay in Cornwall and its fine dining (yes, I have an irrational streak).

Court Orders Woman to pay £24,500 in parking fines

The headline above grabbed my attention. You can read the full story here about how Carly Mackie managed to accumulate fines that she could have avoided fairly easily – if only she had paid a small monthly fee. This would have permitted her to park in exactly the same spot, but ensuring that she could do with peace of mind, legitimately.

Price and Value

This reminded me of the mess that people can get in because they don’t see the value of a maintenance agreement. OK, it doesn’t necessarily hold true all the time, (electric goods “service agreement”) but it made me think about our services to clients. We provide an ongoing service to look after your financial “stuff”. We keep you posted about changes to rules and your arrangements. The purpose in doing so is to help prevent a larger expense later, because something was missed or not known. The problem with any such service is that most people see the price not the value. They assume that this aspect of life is all very straight-forward and any such service is an unnecessary cost. In fairness, it doesn’t help that the point of the service agreement is to do precisely that – to avoid unnecessary cost and making things appear to be simple.

Are you still paying attention?

I don’t wish to overstate, but a phrase that comes to mind is “those that pay, pay attention”. In other words, if you don’t really pay (enough) for something you tend not to value it. If you don’t value it, you probably ignore it….which can lead to problems.

Whilst some aspects of financial planning are “blindingly obvious” – such as spending less than you earn. Some are not (think new tax on annual pension allowance excess). Also, if nobody is around to challenge you on some “obvious” stuff, who will keep you on track? There are some “basic” traps that most people fall into…. Ready for it? (this is basic, but uncomfortable)…. If you spend more on your car each month than you put towards your pension, you are set for a miserable retirement. Most cars are monthly payment plans. It’s true of your holiday spending and so on… your pension is your future income stream, not an optional extra.

How is that coffee smelling?

All of which reminds me of one of the short films (Bombita) within “Wild Tales” (one of my favourite) about a demolition manager who takes the law into his own hands after dealing with the city parking bureaucrats.

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

Assumption2023-12-01T12:18:37+00:00
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