Remembering Montmartre 1899

Remembering Montmartre 1899

It is 1899 and I’m at the latest Secret Cinema event, transported back in time to Montmartre, Paris in 1899, arriving at la vie Boheme – the Moulin Rouge. We are greeted by Monsieur Zidler and shortly bump into a certain Henri, one Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec with friends and then serenaded by a new young writer. We marvel at the guests, who like ourselves are not themselves, but suitably attired for their profession in 1899.

Most will not be familiar with Secret Cinema, it is, after all, secret and has a tag line, reminiscent of Fight Club – Tell No One. The concept is simple – gather a crowd of film lovers to come along to watch a movie together. The twist is that its immersive to the extent that there is a successful attempt to create the feeling of being in the movie, with not simply “sets” but landscapes to explore. Engage, (in character) with the actors who perform their screen roles before and during the screening of the film. It’s a lot of fun.

Champagne Lifestyle

Sadly not all in Montmartre was 1899 – the prices certainly were not. A bottle of Champagne (well why not? after all Monsieur Pol Roger died in 1899 and Jules Medot founded the Champagne house Louis-de-Custine in 1899) at the Moulin Rouge was £40 and as we all know that doesn’t go terribly far… So pandering to my slightly sad interest in inflation, I wondered what the price of Champagne was in 1899 and whether it was possible to re-inflate it back to 2017. Sadly the £40 price tag for a bottle of Champagne in 2017 wasn’t deflated to the 1899 price of just 33pence (best attempt)…..probably just as well, £40 then would have bought 121 bottles.  Inflation is arguably the most underestimated element that any investor must contend with and must be factored into any sensible financial plan.

Returning to the 70’s?

Many are currently suggesting that due to Brexit and the unfathomable Mr Trump, we are (collectively) in for a bumpy ride, perhaps something akin to the 1970s. If this does indeed become the case, presumably we can expect power cuts, strikes, industrial meltdown, oil price hikes and rampant inflation (well, by British standards anyhow). Personally, whilst I’m not pretending that everything is well, I don’t have a bleak outlook and find many of the scaremongering, nothing other than a tune for peddling. It is probably obvious to you by now that I’m not a fan of Mr Trump, or Brexit,

Inflating the figures

Anyway, back to the inflation issue and the 1970s. Remember that for the power of your £1 to remain the same it needs to keep pace with inflation. How inflation is measured is of course hugely contentious. We tend to use CPI and RPI as the most common metrics. That said, there often seems to be a disconnection between the rising prices of things you personally pay for and what the Office of National Statistics say they are. This isn’t a political jibe, if most of your spending is on utilities, then it’s likely that your personal rate of inflation is rather higher.

How do you remember the 1970s?

For the record, £100 at the end of 1970 was £364 by the end of 1980 because of the inflation (RPI) in the 1970s, which increased 9%, in 1971 then 7.6%, 10.6%, 19.2%, 24.9%, 15.1%, 12.1%, 8.4%, 17.2% and 15.1% in 1980.  This represents an average annualized inflation rate of 13.3%. The FTSE All-Share achieved an average annualized return of 12.2%. So didn’t quite keep pace with inflation and saw some huge market declines (-28.6% in 1973 and -51.6% in 1974) Any investor that lost their nerve at the end of 1974 would have missed out on the 151.4% recovery in 1975. These huge changes eventually ushered in a fundamental change in monetary policy and “Thatcherism” in an attempt to control the supply of money and inflation specifically.

Think and act life-long

The advantage of standing back and considering a long term approach is that the short-term volatility of a year or even a decade reinforces the rarely practiced investor skills of discipline and patience.

If you are interested in Secret Cinema, here’s the promotional trailer. Click here for the link to their website, where you can find out about many of their immersive film experiences, but tell no one…

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

Remembering Montmartre 18992023-12-01T12:18:39+00:00

Pensions: Annuities starting to improve?

Annuities starting to improve?

We appear to have witnessed a small upturn in annuity rates. In June the best open market annuity for a male aged 65, with £100,000 seeking a single life, level income with a 5 year guarantee rose to 5.35% or £5,350 in April and May the rate was 5.09%…. technically a modest increase of £260 a year in this example, but equivalent to an increase of 5.1% (Ok it is starting from a very low point).


Well, gilt yields have increased modestly too, these essentially drive annuity rates, along with mortality rates (as well as other health and geographic factors). The 15 year gilt yield bottomed at 1.76% in February this year, but has slowing started to increase. All this suggests a possible interest rate rise is probably coming.

Back in the day…

I wonder what your feelings are to this news. In October 1990 the same £100,000 for a 65-year-old male, also buying a single-life level annuity with a 5 year guarantee would have received an annuity rate of 15.64% or £15,640 a year (nearly three times as much). At the time the 15 year gilt yield was 11.74%. Gilt yields have historically always been less than annuity rates, tracking a very similar path but 2-3% less.

Of course to buy an annuity in October 1990 you would be born in 1925, the year Clara Bow starred in “The Plastic Age” and you would now be 89. Most men born in 1925 do not live to 89, (and some may have fought in WW2… just, being 20 when it ended) but for those that have survived until 2015 the average man would live another 4.32 years according to the ONS. Some will obviously live longer, some less (hence it being an average figure). If you are lucky enough to have a 15.64% annuity rate that started in October 1990 you would have already had £400,384 by the end of June 2015 from your £100,000. Living until the average 93.3 would provide a total income of £458,252… which really isn’t too bad is it.

What about inflation?

Since 1990 until the end of last year (2014) the average rate of RPI was 3.1%. As a result anyone with a level annuity has seen the effective value reduce by 3.1% a year (assuming that you believe the RPI data and buy the same goods and services – which is a significant point).  Of course £15,640 today is £15,640, but if we back date this to 1990, its worth the equivalent of £32,746, in other words a little more than twice as much…. or to put it another way £15,640 is worth about half what it was worth in the space of about 25 years.

Planning your retirement income

If only life were as simple as buying the best deals. In practice planning your retirement income is a fairly involved task, there are lots of choices – loads in fact. How much income you need and your thoughts about inflation are part of the discussion. The new pension freedoms make this a more valuable discussion than simply having to buy an income and living with the consequences, the downside is that greater choice, brings greater complexity and possibility.

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

Pensions: Annuities starting to improve?2023-12-01T12:40:16+00:00
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