How long are you investing?

Dominic Thomas
Feb 2023  •  8 min read

How long are you really investing?

As you know, we use a risk profiling tool, indeed if you have been a client for some years you will know that these have evolved over time.  These all tend to test how you feel about investment loss. It’s a bit like throwing a snake into someone’s lap and asking them how they feel about snakes.

In all my time as an adviser I have never met anyone that likes to see the value of their investments reduce. Yet of course they do from time to time – and time is the key word, or perhaps concept.

Investment returns come from companies providing “solutions” to society at large. This results in products and services being sold for a profit and investors in those companies share the rewards of the endeavour. Wherever you are now, take a moment to consider all the things in front of you, to your left and right, including your attire, and perhaps the medication and food you have already ingested today. It’s made, but almost none of it is made by you.

Risky business?

Almost all investment theory works on the assumption that whatever can reduce in value the most is more “risky”. Cash tends not to reduce in value much, except for the impact of inflation or the bank failing. Shares can alter in price dramatically in the course of a few hours. So to simplify, shares are classified as high risk and cash low risk, with Bonds (and there are numerous types) classified as a little higher risk than cash as they provide return of capital and fixed income, much like cash.

Getting the balance between how much you should hold in cash, bonds and shares will dictate your returns (we call this asset allocation). How long you invest for is also a key part of the results. Unfortunately we live in a world obsessed with the short-term and immediate, yet you will almost certainly be investing for the remainder of your life, which I hope is a rather long time.

The interactive chart below shows 1 year returns, 5, 10 and 20 year returns with increased allocation towards shares from Bonds. In this instance the chart uses purely UK data for UK shares and UK Bonds, our portfolios are actually global, but this will hopefully provide some help with long-term thinking and what “risk” really is.

Figures reflect back-tested data for the period 1926-2020. In cases where the minimum return is a positive number, the red bar still portrays the min return but with a positive percentage.

You can draw your own conclusions, using the intelligence bestowed upon you, or you can listen to the the latest ideas about what will happen in the next 12 months, I would advise and suggest taking a much longer-term approach. For the record, the UK stock market is only about 5%-7% of the world stock market, depending on the value of the pound, which is why our clients invest globally.

How long are you investing?2023-12-01T12:12:37+00:00

DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME – A TALE OF A SIMPLE MIND

TODAY’S BLOG

DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME – A TALE OF A SIMPLE MIND

Reminders on my phone are a necessity. This singular function is one that I use to organise my life, attempt to not forget to do things, and often be in the right places at the right times. I truly believe that I would be lost without this very simple tool. However…

Setting yourself reminders is a very manual process – you create them, set the date on which whatever the task is must be completed. Most crucially, it is all too easy to change the due date on these reminders and push them back over what is, inevitably, a multiple-month stretch. If this process were automatic and unchangeable to prevent procrastination (which over the years I have come to believe is something of an art-form) I am sure that I would achieve more, all within a much more reasonable time span. We are creatures of habit, however, the discipline required in the early stages of forming GOOD habits is crucial in maintaining them for the longer term. This got me thinking about automated finances, which is a concept that I have been hearing and reading about a lot during my studies.

AUTOMATE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

Andy Hart, in his excellent podcast ‘Maven Money’ which I would highly recommend, states that automating your finances is one of the most important things that you can do. This means setting up standing orders or direct debits (whichever is more appropriate for the scenario), in order to ensure that your money goes to the places that you want and need it to go. One of the main focuses of this technique is saving, whether this be for a house, other large projects or emergency funds, though the same technique can be used to help yourself in many other ways – desired monthly pension contributions, for example, is another goal that this technique could be used for.

Not only will you never forget to make these savings/contributions ever again, but you are likely to become even better at budgeting for all other aspects of your lifestyle without these funds even coming into consideration – with the comfort of knowing that these funds have contributed towards achieving your financial goals and strengthening your financial plan.

MONTHLY SAVINGS HAS SOME OTHER ADVANTAGES

Some of you may have already seen our short video that explains pound-cost averaging. In a very clear way, this video explains how there can be a great benefit to making contributions to investments on a monthly basis, essentially meaning that you will always end up paying the average price over a particular period of time rather than being at risk of paying over the odds.

It’s ironic how we often forget the things worth remembering but remember the things worth forgetting. I have included our video above about monthly budgeting and setting up your bank accounts, to help make this entire process much easier.

Daniel Liddicott
Trainee Financial Adviser

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 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?

DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME – A TALE OF A SIMPLE MIND2023-12-01T12:13:05+00:00

A TRANSFORMED INVESTOR

TODAY’S BLOG

A TRANSFORMED INVESTOR

I came across this article which may be of some help to you. Dave Goetsch one of the executive producers of the hugely successful “Big Bang Theory”, who wrote a piece for Dimensional, one of our investment partners. This is his experience…

Seeing all the recent headlines about the sudden downturn in the stock market has transported me back to February of 2009, when I was close to despair. It’s striking how different I feel now.

In February 2009, the stock market was down around 50% from its high, and everyone seemed to feel like the sky was falling. I was familiar with this state of panic because my relationship to the financial markets was that I didn’t trust them.

They were always going up and down in ways no one could predict, and I couldn’t trust those folks who said that they could anticipate what was going to happen. So when the market went down, I went down with it—sinking into a depression, knowing there was nothing I could do. What a difference nine years make. I haven’t changed because the stock market rebounded. I changed because I learned that there was a different way to think about investing. I was right not to trust those people who thought they could predict what was going to happen in the markets, but I was wrong in thinking that there was nothing to do. I’ve learned that I can have a great investment experience if I just accept a few simple truths.

DAVE GOETSCH

I have to understand the uncertainty of the market. The stock market, as measured by the S&P 500 Index, has returned about 10% per year over the last 90 years, but there are very few individual years in which it has ever actually returned that amount. In fact, how many of those 90 years do you think the S&P 500 was up more than 20% or down more than 20% for that year? The answer is 40. Astounding, right? I wish somebody had explained that to me decades ago. Then I would have known to look at stock market returns in terms of decades—not years, months, days, or hours. I would understand that so many of those articles and cable news pieces are just noise, designed to keep an audience obsessed and unsettled.

I haven’t changed because the stock market rebounded. I changed because I learned that there was a different way to think about investing.

In order to be a long-term investor, you have to have a long time horizon. This can be hard to remember when you’re being assaulted by noise, but if you can stay strong, the results are stunning. By results, I don’t mean the investment returns, which hopefully are good. The return I’m talking about is how I feel every day. I worry less—not just about the future, but also about the present. Of course, I know that there are no guarantees when it comes to investing, but I feel like I’m going to be okay. I have a plan.

There’s no way I could’ve done this without a financial advisor. I needed someone who could not just talk me through what my asset allocation should be, but also help me work through how I felt about investing and what exactly I could do to change my perspective.

I was a mess nine years ago. Now, my outlook is totally different. The markets haven’t changed; they still go up and down. The difference is, I don’t anymore.

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?

A TRANSFORMED INVESTOR2023-12-01T12:13:21+00:00

A Certain Future

A Certain Future

Our culture is full of clamour for certainty… tell us the future? Why was your forecast wrong? (as a Radio4 presenter seem to berate The Bank of England this morning). Why didn’t you foresee such and such? It seems that we all want certainty – perhaps to affirm our own beliefs about life and people, or perhaps because deep down we know that life is anything but certain.

It appears this quest for certainty is intense at present, I say “seems” because I doubt that’s true, but we are bombarded with messages that would leave most rational folk with a deep sense of anxiety due to climate change, Brexit, technology, feckless politicians and a sense that perhaps, perhaps… the bullies are winning.

If only…

Investors are unsurprisingly startled by the normal behaviour of investment markets, when the “corrections” come. There is always anxiety over when is the best time to invest and when is a bad time to invest. None of us wishes to appear foolish.

Yet the basic law of investing (not speculating) is that markets are volatile, short term investing is unwise, long-term investing in a globally diverse portfolio is the best, most logical way to grow the value of money over time. In exchange you must live with seeing the “value” rise and fall rapidly and daily. If only we knew the future and had some certainty…

The Phlebotomist

I’m here to tell you that there is none. Yet we will search and research for it, developing theories to help us navigate the condition of life. This in mind, I was intrigued by a brief review of a new play “The Phlebotomist” by a young playwriter (Ella Road) which considers a not too distant dystopian future, where a blood test can reveal what illnesses you will suffer from, all rather like a credit score, but a health score.

I understand that this is explored in the context of a dating app, when people are forced to consider their choice of partner, given this pre-warning information. Sadly, I am not able to see the play at Hampstead Theatre which is sold out and runs until Saturday 19th May 2018. I hope that its success will lead to a wider, longer run. If you are going, please let me know your thoughts.

Life would be very dull if we knew what would happen. A sense of “Groundhog Day” is deeply unsatisfying. This fragile life, for all its faults is delightful (or potentially) precisely because of the lack of certainty.

Anyway, here’s a video from the cast of “The Phlebotomist” by Ella Road and directed by Sam Yates.

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

A Certain Future2023-12-01T12:18:10+00:00

Markets are High, the End is Nigh

Markets are High, the End is Nigh

I have no idea why radio and TV stations broadcast the level of the FTSE with every news bulletin. It’s as though they are screaming “the end is nigh”. Think about it for a moment, what purpose does it serve? The only people that can do anything about their investments are traders – who had the information already. To my mind the only reason I can think of is so that you and I panic. The markets are high, so we panic with the good news fearing that is must be coming to an end. Alternatively, they have fallen, so the anxiety and fear is by how much and how far.

So What?

A better question might be…. So what? How does this affect me at all? Well the truth is that your investments will almost certainly be impacted, but then that’s the point of investing. The issue is really does the rise or fall play any significant part on your financial well-being. This is where proper financial planning comes in. We know that investments fall in value. We allow for it. We also know and believe that the point of investing is so that they rise, otherwise we wouldn’t bother would we!

A picture paints a thousand words

So, I thought that I would share with you an interesting graph. This shows the returns of the FTSE All-Share over the last 30 years from 1986-2016 (31 years). The grey columns show the calendar year returns.  You will observe that 22 or the 31 are positive, 9 are negative. In other words, 70% of the time, calendar year returns have been positive. However, when the negative years occur, those years can see large falls, note the worst being -33% in 2008 (the credit crunch, supposedly the worst financial collapse in generations).

Let’s get Negative

Now observe the red dots. These represent the largest fall in each year. All falls must be negative to be a fall. So, every year has one. Note how these are pretty “bad” yet don’t really seem that bad when you consider the actual return over the year (grey column). Its noteworthy that the average fall in a year is -15.8% – the median (if you line up all the results, the one in the middle) is -12.6%. So, in short you should expect a fall every year of around this sort of amount. It should not be a surprise.

You probably remember the crash of October 1987… just after the hurricane that Michael Fish didn’t expect. Remember the headlines of millions wiped off the markets. True, it (the FTSE All Share) fell -37% however over the year it showed a return of +4%. Which do you remember? I’m guessing the crash… which you would certainly remember if you got in a panic and sold your holdings (when they were down)… selling in a panic or a crisis is the surest way to actually have one, but remembering your long-term financial goals and why on earth you are investing anyway is vital. That’s what we and any other decent financial planner will help with, when the crowd and the media and the market are telling you to panic, do something!… do not.

Diversify to Dampen

However, very few people have all their investments in the FTSE All Share or indeed entirely in shares (equities) most will have a portfolio that has some in low risk holdings as well, ideally the portfolio will be globally diversified across nations and asset classes. This will dampen the effects of both the rises and the falls of the markets.

The Only Timing that Matters

Trying to time the best moment to enter or exit the market is impossible to do with any repeatable success. However clearly you and your planner need to mindful (aware) of when you want to withdraw money. It’s all very well a favourable long-term average return, (or even a calendar year one) but what about when it’s a really bad year and you need the money out? Again, the truth is that any decent planner will help assess this advance. In practice it is unlikely that you would need all of your investments at the same time, but it can happen, particularly if you decide to use your entire pension fund to buy an annuity (income for life).  This is why we spend a lot of time getting to understand our clients, your goals, values and aspirations – importantly when you need the money,  so that that we can plan appropriately, perhaps reducing investment risk or holding more cash than you might need. Context is everything and a plan is vital. So get in touch to ensure that your investments are structured properly – for you, not for the media.

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

Markets are High, the End is Nigh2023-12-01T12:18:48+00:00

Investing in a Business

Investing in a Business

One of the ways that Government attempts to create jobs is to encourage and stimulate small businesses, start-ups or recently started businesses. The Prime Minister wants these to scale up, not simply start up. So as a regular investor (which in my world we call a retail investor) there are various ways that you are incentivized to be part of this wealth creation.

Tax effective incentives

Venture Capital Trusts, Enterprise Investment Schemes, Small Enterprise Investment Schemes are all such investment structures designed to encourage you (with tax incentives) to invest into new businesses. Generally, though not always the case, these would be businesses looking for money, to which traditional banks don’t, can’t or won’t lend. Since the credit crunch, despite the Government pouring billions into the system, most lending to small businesses has not increased. Indeed any chart on the topic would suggest that Banks are positively less than helpful.

A Different Approach

As we approach the end of the tax year, various specialist companies will produce offers for these tax efficient investments. The rules for them are fairly complex, primarily because they  (the rules) seem to get changed each year. It would certainly be true to say that the degree of investment risk is generally much higher than say investing into most normal investment funds that track an index. As with most things, there are good and not so good and some downright awful. Despite being 3 or 5 year investments, in reality they are long-term investments, where the positive rewards may take some years to bear fruit, and as with almost every business, extracting money from them requires a carefully considered exit strategy and ideally several potential buyers.

The company you keep

In the latest Trainspotting film, (T2, which is a return to Edinburgh and the characters from 20 years ago) two of the characters (Renton and Simon) decide to have a proper go at running a “business”. Despite being “creative thinkers” and possessing “the gift of the gab” rather more is required to run a successful business.  Sadly, their skill set and personal focus do not lend themselves to a successful outcome. Some investors could be forgiven for thinking that the degree of risk being taken is similar to that of investing into non-mainstream investments. However the only thing in common is the capability of the management of the business. Good managers can turn a bad business around, but equally a good business can be ruined by bad management. We all know that there are some very unsavory characters in business, some even cross-over into politics. Trainspotting has a particularly nasty character. As is always the case, people are key. In this form of investing, it is certainly the case that a good business plan  requires a good management team to implement it.

Choose wisely

So (and here is where you imagine Ewan McGregor reading this) if you think that you might want to choose to invest in small businesses, choose to create jobs, choose wealth creation, choose something a bit different, choose a dose of tax relief, perhaps you should be thinking about choosing to invest into an EIS, SEIS or VCT. As with T2 it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, (or drug of choice).  Generally, you’ll need a minimum of £25,000 to invest. This is for those that do want to choose some of the companies that will make a mark on the next 20 years. Those that are comfortable with the risk. Those that are choosing to invest for the long-term and have a clear idea of what they are getting into. Then investing in businesses can provide a rewarding experience. But choose wisely. Here is the trailer for T2: Trainspotting.

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

Investing in a Business2023-12-01T12:18:49+00:00

Your Capacity for Loss

Your Capacity for Loss

One of the more difficult aspects of financial planning is the subject of capacity for loss. In essence this attempt to assess how bad things need to be before your lifestyle is significantly worsened. Most think in terms of the decline of a portfolio due to stockmarket crash, which would also affect the level of income that could be withdrawn from it sustainably.

Your appetite for risk, (or risk tolerance) is normally tested using a psychometric tool, such as the one we use (FinaMetrica) is different – testing your ability to cope with the shift in value of your portfolio (or volatility). All tools are flawed and in reality, it isn’t a process for generating an answer, more of a helpful starting point in a discussion. Capacity for loss has more to do with your financial ability to cope with loss.

A financial planners job is to attempt to ensure that your money lasts a little longer than you do. Yes its more complicated than that in practice, but if you strip away the mechanics and maths, that’s invariably where it leads.

What you have to lose

However, putting a number on this is arguably an impossible task. There are lots of relevant variables. Your age, investment timeframe, years until you retire, health, family commitments, income and expenditure, net worth, cash reserves, debt and insurance and of course this is all a moving continuum. Many clients will at some point say that they will live within their means, to cut their cloth accordingly, which of course is a sensible approach to the restrictions of real life.  However, in practice this can hurt, and it’s easier to blame someone else for discomfort, that it seems, is what our political system is all about.

Why capacity for loss is an issue

I assume (which is therefore prone to error) that the regulator is concerned about capacity for loss, because it would appear that over the years there have been many investors that simply didn’t understand what they had invested in and it would seem did not understand how the impact of an investment going wrong might impact them. Neither did they understand the illustrations. I would suggest that this is in part due to a lack of financial education, a lack of adviser explanation and frankly a lack of interest.

We live in a world of risk

The truth is that investing carries risk, but then so does not investing, just a different one, which can be equally as painful. In real terms, by which I mean once you allow for inflation, many people’s income has reduced over the last few years. Inflation, currently very low can ravage away at the power of the money you hold. So, holding cash, which is currently generating less than inflation each year is essentially going backwards.

There is always somewhere to be King…

By historical standards we are all rich, by global standards we are all rich, but you may not feel it.  Indeed, to be richer, or certainly feel richer, simply encash your worldly wealth and move to somewhere that is obviously poor, there you can live like a king…. Isolated, needing high castle walls and compelled to spend huge sums on defending what you have. Rich, but perhaps not connected.

The roaring Lion

May I suggest an alternative? Perhaps pay a trip to the cinema to see Lion. This is the true story of how a small boy from a very poor village in India, gets lost and is eventually adopted by an incredible Australian couple. His life takes a very different path but eventually leads to a search for the family he lost.

Keep in mind the 767 million

We all know that most of the world is poor by our standards, and we are told that things are gradually improving, fewer people are in poverty, in 2013 10.7% of the world live on less than $1.90 a day. In the previous year, it was 12.4% (World Bank). That’s still 767million people, but 35% less than in 1990.

None of this is news to you. Yet I found myself confounded and discomforted once again by the plight of millions living in poverty and vulnerable children, who live on the streets and experience all sorts of abuse. I came away with a mixture of feelings, grateful that I don’t live in such circumstances, perplexed at why Governments don’t do more to serve their own people well and perhaps too a little ashamed of my own lifestyle choices, when so many have so few. So, I do wonder if it is ever truly possible to be even vaguely precise with terms like capacity for loss in a world of such extremes.

As for the film, it is very much worth watching and its good to see Dev Patel has been nominated for some awards along with the film. 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

Your Capacity for Loss2023-12-01T12:18:52+00:00

Money Monster

Money Monster

The latest George Clooney movie is on general release. It continues the theme of some elements of Hollywood questioning the current state of capitalism, yet recognises that the language used within financial circles is almost impenetrable and many feel so powerless that the impetus to understand is invariably lost.

Clooney plays Lee Gates, one of those dreadful money pundits on American TV stations that constantly cover the markets. If you have ever had the misfortune to tune into this sort of television you will know precisely what I mean. He is the worst sort of journalist – a TV presenter, who comments on markets and shares without context or thought of consequence. Regrettably this is not exclusive to the US, but within our own media too – both televised and written. The tempo may be different, but the problem is essentially the same. This is, for want of a better term, financial porn.

Financial Porn

Any glance at any financial publication over the last 10 years will reveal the same rather sad truth – the media appear to have little choice but to grab our attention with ever depressing or outrageous headlines. This reflects on us all and our overstuffed in-box lives, to which I am both a contributor and recipient.

The story itself revolves around Kyle, an irate investor who followed Lee Gates’ advice, but sank all his savings into this one “sure thing”. The stock collapses due to a “computer glitch” and he loses a lot of money. Kyle takes matters into his own hands, armed and in search of answers, takes the TV studio hostage. It’s a decent movie.

Lessons for investors

There are some obvious lessons for investors here. Firstly, all investment should have a context. There is no such thing as certainty, some things are much more likely than others, but not certain. I cannot guarantee that the sun will rise in the morning, but we all expect it will, but it’s not guaranteed. Do not invest all your money into one stock. Do not bet your future on a tip from a TV pundit or any other journalist – none of whom are accountable for the “advice” (that isn’t advice). Finally, in the event that the stock or investment collapses, few investments ever reduce to a value of nothing. It certainly is possible for a company to go bust, hence its share price worth “nada” but most investments are not single stocks. So you will not have “lost all your money” if the investment has a value, so does your investment. Ironically, in the film, the loss Kyle experiences would have been made far worse by the resulting story, not better.

I enjoyed the film, it poses some good and frequently asked questions. I would be happy to recommend it to you, about what not to do with your own money. Here is the trailer. It’s out now.

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

Money Monster2023-12-01T12:19:10+00:00

Would You Risk It?

Solomons-financial-advisor-wimbledon-bloggerWould You Risk It?

I recently watched a Swedish film by Ruben Ostlund called “Force Majeure” which had me squirming in my seat. Its the story of a family on a skiing holiday in the alps, who get caught up in an avalanche, which of course is merely symbolic of everything else that is going on in their lives. It’s a convincing story if somewhat realist and slow in pace. As someone that has only been skiing once (which I loved) but also knowing many people that have had fairly miserable and even tragic tales from the slopes, this film ended any thoughts I had about taking my family on a skiing holiday, even though I am well aware that it can be a wonderful experience. force majeure

I won’t spoil the story for you and it probably isn’t what you may expect of the story from simply using the words family, holiday, skiiing, avalanche. However this is an exhausting look at how stress is handled, magnified in the dynamic of a family holiday. In the film, the couple (Tomas and Lisa) seem much more willing to take risks and lead their two young children in a way that I simply wouldn’t even contemplate – because I think of them as being unsafe. However its deeper than that.. its also the risks people understand and assess (or not) on a much broader level. The nation that build Volvo’s (the safest cars?) flips the notion of risk on its head when reduced to the individual and relationships.

The film prompted much discussion and reflection, but with my my financial planner hat on, I tried to draw a few lessons. On the one hand, the setting of busy people carving out time to spend with their family and friends and enjoying “the good life” is some of the “stuff” that is talked about in a financial planning meeting… ie. how do you really want to spend your time? what do you value? what’s the purpose/reason for you working so hard? This is only part of the start of a conversation, which invariably lasts much longer than a single meeting…. after all we are discussing your life plans right?

In the design and implementation of a financial plan and experiencing the “process” I believe that many of our clients look for a sense of leadership and guidance, not in a patronising way, but one that reflects a weathered, seasoned expert that has been on the track getting people from A to B. I do not believe that they expect me to take shortcuts, go off-piste or compose a different version of reality to suit my perspective. There is far more to it than simply getting from A to B anyway… its the journey and your unique values and “milestones”.

Many of us were brought up to ask questions, but soon learned that to do so exposed a lack of knowledge. The peer pressure of school for many is more than sufficient to have the opposite effect to the one your teacher hoped for. For many this carries into adult life, not wishing to ask “dumb questions” for fear of being seen to appear foolish. I believe that there are no “dumb questions”… none of us knows everything. So in the perilous world of investing and planning a life (which doesn’t come with an instruction book) it is sensible to get a guide, someone that you can trust to help you with your journey. Even the best skiiers were taught and the very best still get coached.

The final sequence in the film reveals someone that is paid to take people from A to B yet appears to possess none or very few of the required practical skills, let alone social ones. As for me, I may have a different take on the risk of skiing, those of you that are skiiers may think I’m daft… that’s not really my point, but merely to highlight and understand the risks involved. Thats also partly what I do for clients – helping them to see the risks that they are really running, be that taking too much (or too little) investment risk, banking their future on the sale of their home/business, gaining an inheritance and so on… none of which is “wrong” provided that you know what you are getting into… its not a matter of “a different perception” but of seeing what is there. Just because I wouldn’t risk it, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t… but you may want to benefit from taking a moment or two to ensure that your thinking and assumptions are “solid” and that you aren’t standing on very thin ice… or hurtling down a mountain in the fog. So what are the risks you are running within your own financial planning? Why not begin a conversation with me to make your journey much more sure-footed.

Here’s the trailer. Do get out to support your local independent cinema and independent movies/arts if you can.

Dominic Thomas

Would You Risk It?2023-12-01T12:40:05+00:00

Godzilla Investing… did you see it coming?

Solomons-financial-advisor-wimbledon-blogger

Godzilla Investing…did you see it coming?

I wonder if you have seen the new trailer for the new (yes another version) Godzilla film? One of the lines used in the trailer to promote the film says something to the effect “this will send us back to the stone age”. Whilst this is of course used for dramatic effect, it does seem that there is a growing concern that if our world changed dramatically life would revert to something altogether basic. This anxiety of an end to life as we know it, is the subject of many films at present, perhaps a meltdown of the financial markets or an end to our technological revolution or alien invasion (examined in two recent films “Her” and “Transcendence” but a very well worn topic).Godzilla movie

So I wondered as walked this morning, could we revert to the Stone Age? Well, I don’t believe so. It’s plausible that without technology we would find life rather different, certainly challenging, but isn’t this really winding the clock back 40 or 50 years? Even the Romans and Greeks, considerably after the Stone Age, were thriving economies with central heating and running water, ok not quite the same, but you see the point. In fact life back then was remarkably similar – at least that was my impression having been to the Pompeii exhibition at the British Museum last year.

Portfolio Worth Zero?

So when a client asked me the other day “could my portfolio be worth nothing?” I paused and reflected on something that I have voiced many times over. Companies can fail, individual funds can fail, but we build diversified portfolios. These are a mix of different shares, funds and asset classes. Yes they could all revert to a zero value, but to do so would mean that the companies, the properties that they work from, all assets, gold and so on would be worth nothing. The only thing I can realistically think of that could cause this would be “the end of the world” – world war. In which case, you won’t be worrying about your portfolio. That is not to suggest that a major problem like the credit crunch could devalue holdings considerably, which is precisely why we diversify investments and assess risk (see yesterday’s post). We cannot prevent or predict major disasters, but we can make allowance for the unknown and the bad times. However fear is not something that should be ignored, but it is overcome or at the least faced with knowledge.

As for Godzilla, I guess you will see it coming…

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

Godzilla Investing… did you see it coming?2023-12-01T12:39:11+00:00
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