The Cold Shoulder?

Daniel Liddicott
May 2023  •  3 min read

Call me (or rather, don’t)

Public service announcement: News broke yesterday of the Government’s plan to ban all cold calling related to the sale of financial products. This measure was already in place on any sales cold calling related to pension products, however the government is now due to extend the ban to cover any unsolicited calls of this kind.

The idea is that when this measure is put into place, anyone receiving an unexpected sales call regarding anything from insurance to investments will know that the call is not genuine and is indeed an attempted scam.

You might say that this is a case of better late than never. The government stated that “fraud costs the UK nearly £7bn per year”. Financial scams have the potential to be hugely damaging and significantly life-changing.

Back in our Spring 2021 edition of Spotlight, we published an article about Emmeline Hartley, who was happy to share her story of being the victim of such a scam (see page 10!).

So, in light of this, you can rest assured that should you receive a cold call of this nature, hanging up the phone immediately is a perfectly justified course of action. Or should you have the time and inclination, you could take the would-be fraudster on a wild goose chase for the details that they will never obtain from you. Or you could try putting them on hold. Just a couple of ideas.

The Cold Shoulder?2023-12-01T12:12:33+00:00

Who do you trust?

Dominic Thomas
Jan 2023  •  5 min read

Who do you trust?

To my mind we have always lived in a world of false information. Stories and myths, urban legend all exist to serve someone’s perspective. Since the days of modern ‘propaganda’, we have been warned of careless talk and the enemy around the corner. In the last few years, largely though not exclusively due to the arrival of the internet, facts and mis- or rather disinformation coexist. We have to decipher and frankly that is not as easy as it should be. Most conspiracy theories contain an atom of something that seems to be plausible, but is then expanded and extracted.

This week we have witnessed more political folly as Government attempts to reign in some of its own that have crossed the line of reason. When we see extremity we tend to regard things as ‘obvious’.

I present Richard Rufus, former Premier League defender for Charlton Athletic, indeed in 2005 he was voted “Charlton’s greatest ever defender”. Like many a sports celebrity and Premier League player, he was well remunerated. High profiles and substantial income in our current culture, come hand in hand with an expensive lifestyle and costly habits.

After a career in football, many players struggle to adapt to life outside of the spotlight and without the same financial rewards. Few are able to continue to earn anything like their player wages. Whatever the reasons, like many players, celebrities and frankly most people, Mr Rufus appears to have spent most, if not all of his income. Whatever savings he had were clearly not sufficient to support his lavish lifestyle, which he was unwilling to relinquish.

A lavish lifestyle provides the appearance of financial success, but what is visible is largely immaterial. I’m often struck by how many people have a car that costs north of £60,000 yet have very little savings; who spend on cars and holidays more than they save for their future … but I digress!

Mr Rufus turned his hand to financial scamming. Not the sort of arms-length, call centre scamming, but the up close, personal relationship, scam your family and friends type of scam. The detail of which can all be found online following the Court’s decision to find him guilty of a £15m fraud which has resulted in a seven year prison sentence. Defender turned offender.

I don’t know Mr Rufus, I have no axe to grind. He wasn’t a financial adviser and reports indicate that the process of the scam was much like the advice you might seek from a friend at the pub … or more likely gastro pub or bistro. The mechanics of the scam involved foreign currency (often the case), no legitimate regulation (also often the case) and persuasion with what the eyes see and what the ears wish to hear. “It clearly works for him, look at his lifestyle”.

The fact is that at the heart of this there are problems that are universal. Firstly, few if any of us wish to reduce our lifestyle, however you define it. Most people are not good at holding onto the money that they earn, inherit or win. Most of us are not good at discerning the cost of a lifestyle either now or in the future. It’s far easier for us to account for how we would spend an imaginary lottery win than how much it will cost us to live as we are for two, three or four decades once we are retired, or frankly what we spend each month now. We are all tempted by the illusion of get rich quick solutions, starting your own business, writing a best- selling book, setting up a social media account where the ‘likes’ are followed by pounds, or of course the next big one, cryptocurrency or whatever you fancy.

The truth is much harsher. It’s a long, slow process, full of setbacks as well as successes. As for advice from friends and family … well I don’t know them, actually scratch that, I do know some of them, you refer them to us … but suffice to say that qualified, regulated, impartial, non-judging, prudent, long-term, evidence-based, evidential advice is likely to be of greater value with no vested interest in whether you holiday in Bournemouth or the Bahamas; Charlton or Cuba.

Who do you trust?2023-12-01T12:12:38+00:00

BANKS HAVE TO DO BETTER FOR FRAUD VICTIMS

TODAY’S BLOG

BANKS MUST DO BETTER FOR FRAUD VICTIMS

The Financial Ombudsman Service, which manages disputes between financial firms and customers, is ruling against banks in 73% of authorised fraud cases, data exclusively obtained by Which? demonstrates. This means if you have been tricked into sending money to a scammer, you may be able to get a refund from your bank.

The biggest banks are signed up to the voluntary Contingent Reimbursement Model (CRM) Code, which is designed so victims of authorised push payment fraud (APP) are treated fairly and consistently when they ask for compensation. If your bank refuses compensation, you can escalate your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

But the number of customer complaints about banks’ handling of authorised fraud – the vast majority of which are APP – landing at the FOS more than doubled in the 2020-21 financial year, from 3,600 to 7,770. And three-quarters (73%) of these were upheld in favour of the customer.

Financial Scams and fraud

VAST SUMS OF FRAUD – SOMEONE HAS TO PAY

APP fraud – being tricked into transferring money to a fraudster – is fast becoming one of the UK’s biggest frauds. Losses hit £355.3m between January and July, outstripping losses to card fraud. Banks are required to refund you for losses to unauthorised fraud such as card fraud, but not APP fraud. You will have noticed that we ran a couple of items in our client magazine Spotlight about fraud and scams.

The voluntary CRM code was launched in May 2019 and requires signatory banks to provide effective warnings to customers, identifying vulnerable customers and acting quickly when a scam is reported. In return, you are expected to pay attention to take care, have a reasonable basis for believing the payment is genuine, and pay attention to warnings.

Crucially, signatory banks must reimburse customers even if both parties have done nothing wrong. Data shows that many victims have been wrongly denied compensation but haven’t approached the FOS. Escalating a complaint to the FOS is free, and can be done online, but not all victims will be aware of or able to use the service. That’s why Which? wants the government to swiftly take the necessary action to enable the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) to introduce mandatory APP fraud reimbursement for all firms using Faster Payments.

If I were a betting man, (which I am not) I would conclude that Banks will find a way to recoup some of their costs from customers, this normally takes the form of higher interest rates or charges on all forms of borrowing. Alternatively, to end the myth of “free banking”. There is no such thing and its about time we all had a grown-up conversation about it.

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?

BANKS HAVE TO DO BETTER FOR FRAUD VICTIMS2023-12-01T12:12:59+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

SOME DAYS… WARNING TO THOSE RETURNING TO THE NHS

TODAY’S BLOG

SOME DAYS – WARNING TO THOSE RETURNING TO THE NHS

There are days when my heart sinks, today was one of those days. I came across a warning from HMRC about a scam being directed at people returning to work in the NHS to help in the fight against COVID-19. It is always depressing when crooks and lowlifes take advantage of others, but particularly so when they take advantage of those that are trying to quite literally save lives.

I better not add any more as it certainly would not convey a professional image, let’s leave it at “it makes me very angry”. So if you are returning to work in the NHS or know someone that is, please warn them not to sign documents without reading them and to have a look at this notice on the Government website.

Long story short – this is about a tax avoidance scheme, which will not work and likely to financially harm those that participate in it.

The link to the Government notice and website is here.

CRIMINALS LURKING

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?

SOME DAYS… WARNING TO THOSE RETURNING TO THE NHS2023-12-01T12:13:19+00:00

THE F-WORD

TODAY’S BLOG

THE F WORD

The F-word in my world is fees. Today we received news that the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) has increased its “levy” on financial advisers to a whopping £516m which is a hefty increase on the £468m previously.

There are many reasons for the increase, but the main one is that many investors have been duped into moving their pension into a SIPP (a Self-Invested Personal Pension). There is nothing wrong with a SIPP in principle, it is just another pension wrapper and the vast majority are perfectly good, indeed arguably rather brilliant. However, it’s also what is inside.

A SIPP can hold lots of investments, remember in 2005 Gordon Brown opening the way and then back-tracking on allowing people to put a private residence in a SIPP (thank goodness!). The “Self-Invested” bit of the SIPP really is an opening to put anything into a pension that “qualifies”. Anyway, some “advisers” have encouraged people to use all manner of weird investments, everything from storage pods, to teak farms in Thailand, car parking spaces to any hairbrained idea. These are “unregulated” investments – clue on the tin.

Solomons IFA Blog: Sorry to bother you

The backstop agreement

These investors have a genuine grievance for bad advice. Well… more scamming than advice. Therefore, they can turn to the FSCS, who in turn “approaches” (demands) payment from the rest of us upright advisers to cover the cost of the miscreants that peddle this rubbish. There are about 5,300 adviser firms in the UK, one or two huge ones and the rest are small businesses. The bill is shared between us (feel free to do the sums). In short that means we cannot keep stomaching the lion-share of a bill for which we are not culpable and so it is reflected in our charges to clients. Hardly a fair system, indeed, like others it is miserable and broken.

Look inside

For the record we arrange SIPPS for our clients, with proper SIPP companies and ONLY hold regulated investments within them. You hold properly listed funds which are composed of shares and bonds of great companies of the world.

If you are a client with a SIPP arranged through us, do not panic, all that’s in your pension is good stuff (unless you mucked around with it or “gave the keys” to another adviser). I recently took on a client who has a SIPP, but his adviser put some awful stuff in it. We have been able to unpick some of it, but not all. Totally unnecessary, unhelpful and illiquid.

Cold Calling Ban – Stop them at the gate

As a final note, anyone (you don’t know) that calls or emails you out of the blue is breaking the law – NO COLD CALLING. Some of you helped us with this initiative, started by another decent adviser (Darren Cooke) in Derbyshire and this eventually became law on Wednesday 9th January 2019. So hopefully this will reduce cold calling (I’m not naive enough to assume it will end). Some interesting issues about cold calling, greed, ethnicity and capitalism were raised in the film “Sorry to bother you”..  it went a little off point and lost its potential purpose, well that’s what I thought. Here is the trailer, it raised some interesting questions. WARNING: its rude.

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?

THE F-WORD2023-12-01T12:17:36+00:00

Ocean’s Eight

Ocean’s Eight

It is an odd thing that we have an affection for certain types of criminals. Those brought to life within a film invariably are the anti-hero. “The Italian Job” or the “Lavender Hill Mob” both hold an almost iconic cultural reference point. Ocean’s Eight is essentially a criminal gang of women, who steal. I’m not sure what the appeal really is, but it is undeniable. Perhaps there is something buried in childhood stories about Robin Hood, which leaves us marvelling the execution of a fantastic plan to outwit and outmanoeuvre authority.

The opening sequences of Oceans Eight may provide some insight. It is perhaps the force of brazen confidence that enable Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) to take advantage of the unsuspecting. Frankly, this sequence ought to be shown to every retail employee as an example of what to observe and I have to admit to being a little concerned that it gives thieves more ideas.

The Double Bluff

Perhaps there is the sense in these films that somehow a balance is being restored in a rather Robin Hood-esque way. I’m sure that there are many examples where this might be the case, but the darker reality is that perhaps, we are all a little enamoured by the criminal mind and but for the consequences, fancy ourselves as a mastermind of bluff and double bluff that has a payoff. Perhaps it intrigues, because we don’t live our lives that way and for good reason.

Where is the promised Cold Calling Ban?

The financial world is full of scams, often by clever people, sometimes just by the downright brazen. As a victim the consequences are very real, having identity stolen or pretty much all your life savings. These are the reasons why we have laws and regulation. Yet it occurs on a massive scale every day. We all need to be vigilant and I am angered by yet further delays to the introduction of the Cold Calling Ban by the Government. I appreciate that Brexit is currently taking resources, but meanwhile criminals are stealing from pension funds and so on. Whilst often we are told “it’s not personal” having your home, bank account or pension fund broken into by a thief feels very personal indeed.

We are complex beings, both victim and perpetrator, but mainly neither. The traditional financial services industry calls this fear and greed, aligning its material accordingly. The job of a fiduciary, such as a financial planner, is to help spot these incidents and to avoid them. There are often not obvious indications and often the best place to hide a lie is in plain sight, between two truths.

As for the new film, I really enjoyed it. I think it is because of the clever planning and skill on display, but actually it probably helps satisfy my darker side. 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

Ocean’s Eight2023-12-01T12:17:59+00:00

What We Cannot Measure

What We Cannot Measure

Financial scams are sadly all too common, we cannot measure how much we save clients by helping them to avoid the many thieves, scammers and general loathsome low-lifes that are keen to part you from your money. Yet that is arguably one of the most significant aspects of my work – helping clients to avoid making mistakes, or at the very least, making fewer of them.

I had to admit to living in a bit of bubble within my sector. When I started as an adviser (1991) I thought most of them were crooks and little of my early experience of helping people get out of rubbish rip-off arrangements altered my opinion. Admittedly for a more complex set of reasons, I was acutely aware that when I turned up to events, my car was one of the “worst” in the car park. Others were doing much better… and frankly I thought I knew why.

Skip forward quite a few years and my opinion changed dramatically as a result of being part of the institute of Financial Planning (IFP) who are now the CISI. The people I met there were open, genuinely keen to help each other do a better job for our clients and were adamant that clients must be put first. This is the bubble that I have been in for quite a long time now. I forget, (because I tend not to come across them) that there are still a lot of horrid individuals who would raffle their family.

The Ark Scam

I have followed the Ark scam with some exasperation, these scams impact our regulatory fees (which rise as a result). In many senses they feel like rewarding failure, but I do appreciate that it’s not an easy job to stop every scam. However this morning I saw a tweet from a decent-minded adviser I know about a post from another. It is the very shocking and desperately disappointing story of Sue Flood’s experience with Ark and her pension. She has been failed miserably.

I would encourage you to read the item on Henry Tapper’s blog page. It is a verbatim script of her account of things from a meeting yesterday. I wish it were very different.

All I can say is that it is about time that some justice was provided to these 500 or so victims. The authorities responsible should wake up and get on with resolutions and bringing the crooks into the safety of prison.

It is this sort of stuff that we help clients avoid. There is a lot of it out there. Frankly Bitcoin is another and most of the rubbish that is covered in the press is decidedly bad for your wealth. Sue did just about as much as anyone could be reasonably expected to do, she checked out her adviser and everything seemed fine. As an industry (we still are) we have collectively failed many, many people like this.

Here is the link to the article.

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

What We Cannot Measure2023-12-01T12:18:06+00:00

Some Good News

Some Good News

There is some good news today about pensions. A recent court case (23 January 2018) has concluded that 245 victims of a pension scam should be reimbursed by those that stole money from their pensions, to the tune of a whopping £13.7m. The High Court Judge Mark Pelling has ruled that 4 pension scammers must make redress to those that they scammed. Those four people being David Austin, Susan Dalton, Alan Barrett and Julian Hanson. These were all connected to a company called “Friendly Pensions” (as if!). You can google their accounts online to see who is who or see more detail here.

I say good news, because it often seems that my particular world if full of stories about people who are scammed and the culprits invariably get away with it. Thankfully the regulator and the Police are all having much more success in Court. Apart from being odious examples of human beings, the scammers simply break all rules, take money that is not theirs, blow it on an excessive lifestyle and pay no taxes, hopping from one financial jurisdiction to another. Thankfully this lot of reprobates were caught.

Usual Trick

These scammers all profited from cold calling and offering to move pensions but providing the investor with the incentive of a tax-free rebate from given up commission. I think the thing that distresses me most is the way that they hide lies amongst truths. Up until 2013 it was possible to give up commission (but only to improve – by reducing investment charges). As of 2013 commission was finally banned by the regulator and advisers had to agree fees with their clients for the work conducted. This can appear very similar to a commission (because the fee can be paid from the pension or investment), but it is very different in practice – in that it is determined and agreed between you and the adviser, not set by the product provider (manufacturer) of the pension (or investment).

Another thing to watch out for is the investments themselves – invariably unregulated investments are used due to the high charges that traditional (mainstream) funds do not have by comparison. In many instances, unregulated investments may as well be a bank account that a crook simply empties into their own account, usually via a network of other accounts.

Why I am particularly delighted is because usually the compensation bill is picked up and shared between the remaining adviser firms in the UK. Though not involved and most unlikely to ever recommend an unregulated investment, all are obligated to pay as demanded within 28 days by the FSCS – the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. So it’s a bill that in theory I won’t be having to pay, though I suspect that these crooks have managed to spend most if not all of the money, so we will probably have to anyway – such is life.

In short, take great care. I know its an industry full of jargon and a plethora of tables and charts, many of which are unhelpful, but get a sense of the adviser you are using and why he or she might be suggesting you change things that you have. There aren’t that many good reasons to move a pension – but reducing your investment costs would be one of them, perhaps better control and reporting if they are all in the same place, or access to some sensible investments, but frankly thats about it unless your old scheme is an utter rip off and isn’t delivering anything of value. Some old pensions do have valuable benefits and some have hefty penalties (still in 2018!).

Anyhow, at least 245 people are now legally entitled to compensation from those that defrauded them, which in my book is a good result.

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

Some Good News2023-12-01T12:18:15+00:00

Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross

The 1984 play by David Mamet opened in London last week. I had seen the 1992 film but had not the play. They are certainly different. To my mind the characters in the film generated more sympathy than those in the play. Whatever your view, the performances are strong, but perhaps not as strong as the language which is about as “locker room” as you can get, as clashing egos and dysfunctional ideas about masculinity are spat across the space between characters.

These are “men” that have a fluid understanding of truth, it seems that they believe that it serves their purpose to be economical with the truth. Selling whatever they can for as much as they can to whomever they can. We are all probably familiar with the hard sell and yet despite it being largely frowned upon here in Britain, we are all still regularly blitzed by people trying to grab our attention. This week I’ve had the customary junk emails, a few text messages and a call or two about an accident that wasn’t my fault and never happened. Selling, sadly, is a regular bedfellow of scamming.

Always Closing

Anyone in business will recognise the constant problem of attracting and obtaining new customers. Those that provide a particular product may only ever sell it once, as opposed to those that sell a service. It is telling that in the play, none of the characters really possess much by way of a sense of ethics. Sadly this is nothing new and of course the notion of hypocrisy (at best) lying (at worst) is familiar in almost any sector of society and unique to none. To the salesman (person) the enquiry or “lead” is their opportunity to close a sale. However bad or unethical selling can only lead to a failed business and one that closes.

A Brood of Vipers

I have never really understood those that knowingly and deliberately lie in order to make a sale. Financial services (my sector) is of course one where many sharks and charlatans have resided. Life may be harder for them now, but invariably they exist and find a way to part people from their money with apparent ease. Some “advisers” often refer to the “good old days” of financial services, by which they mean earning a commission for selling products. It may interest you to know that back in those good old days there were about 250,000 people selling financial products, primarily in person, often at your doorstep. Today there are around 25,000 authorised individuals who are able to provide advice and arrange “stuff”. Of those probably no more than 5,000 are financial planners, who, like me, don’t need to arrange “stuff” to get paid and provide a valuable service to clients, but of course most of us will arrange investments and the like as required.

Money Interest

Money is invariably the barrier to an honest conversation. In 2013 after much mucking around the regulator of the day banned most forms of commission (note I started the firm in 1999 completely removing commission). In January 2018 the rules will be taken to a higher level due to a European agreement (MIFID2). This will mean advisers and product providers need to be crystal clear about their charges and agree terms for their service. This is coming from a sensible, laudable intention of protecting investors, unfortunately I can see very few benefits at this stage, at least for those that are already provided with a costed and agreed service, as our clients are. If anything, people are more likely to make more bad decisions, focussed on cost rather than value. One of the new rules is quarterly valuations and prompt/immediate notification if a portfolio falls by 10%. These sort of actions tend to panic investors and shift their focus to the short-term rather than the long-term benefits of disciplined investing and having a proper financial plan.

Unintended Consequences… again

Your in-boxes will become fuller of correspondence, which will in turn lead to either inertia or anxiety, perhaps both. This is likely to be followed by the current serpent de jour, dressed as a helpful paramedic, but actually seeking to suck a pint of blood or two for themselves – the ambulance chasers will find some way to bombard you and convince some, many perhaps that their portfolio will only ever rise and if it doesn’t or didn’t, please take a ticket and join the queue for those seeking remedy or the fantasy of one. To my mind the equivalent of worrying that an egg was broken when the intention is to make an omelette. If I’m sounding fed up or perhaps “aggressive” this is because, well I am certainly tired of pointless changes, but equally aware that we will need to do more work, for no benefit, which will result in higher costs and fees, which will inevitably be passed on to clients. It won’t really deter the liars or crooks, perhaps it will make like marginally harder, but those are people that never play by the rules and would never offer you anything of value.

As for the play, well it’s on in London near Embankment tube. It has not been updated (if it has I cannot see where). It has contains some very uncomfortable language – racism and sexism which jar and are not helpful to the underlying message of the play. Of course it deals with bigger topics such as the dog-eat-dog world that forms of capitalism create, where collaboration isn’t in evidence, but rather ruining your peers helps your own cause. Starring Christian Slater, Kris Marshall, Oliver Ryan and Don Warrington to name a few. Get your tickets here – (warning – very sweary!)

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

Glengarry Glen Ross2023-12-01T12:18:21+00:00
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