IDENTITY CRISIS

TODAY’S BLOG

IDENTITY CRISIS

Confession time, I really enjoy Ben Elton’s books. His latest publication “Identity Crisis” is both hilarious and gripping. As is often the case, he wraps some serious uncomfortable truths about the world we live in, our own hypocrisy, in a blanket of comedy. He is the equivalent of Lear’s Fool, offering deeply pertinent wise observations that make you laugh.

The novel is frankly a must read for anyone with a social media account of any description. That’s you. It is set in the very near future, Britain undergoing an identity crisis and having yet another referendum, this time about the separation of England from the UK. The motivations are unclear, except for a backlash against “latte drinking liberal London lefties” and the struggle to adjust to new realities of virtual realities, multiple and changing identities. Throw in some gender politics, a dash of religious discrimination, a pinch of disenfranchisement wrapped in the ribbons and bows of a “proud heritage” and he creates a mix that leaves Politicians running for the comfort of soundbites.

Money, Sex and Power

This of course has absolutely nothing to do with financial planning. Then again, it has everything to do with financial planning. The way that money, sex and power combine to persuade people to behave in a way that may serve their baser instincts but against what is in their own interests.

Solomons IFA Blog Identity Crisis - Ben Elton

Incoming SPAM

I am sure that if you have an email account (you must do). At some point you have had various emails that have somehow bypassed your spam filters. These may offer the promise of lucrative rewards for assisting moving money around, perhaps offer a money-making scheme or threaten to expose you for something you have done, might have done, or never have done but the fishing trip alone is enough to make you wonder. We have all heard of cyber bullying and generally assume this is something that happens to children at school, where bullies now have constant access to their prey via social (unsocial) media. Yet we all know that those three pillars of money, sex and power are more vulnerable amongst the adult population, those that possess a modicum of one or more.

You may well find yourself confounded by the changing social attitudes to gender and its new fluidity, but everyone of us has an identity that we do not wish to see trashed by the prospect of blackmail, however baseless and fake. You are in my electronic address book and I in yours. So I wonder whether you have considered what a financial planner, (or any of your professional advisers) but particularly a planner that knows all about you and your money, might compromise if placed under the duress of blackmail. Not given it much thought? No neither had I until I wondered how someone that had actually done some of the things suggested in an email might have responded differently to the threat of “exposure” in exchange of payments of Bitcoins. I simply hit delete, but I did wonder how some would respond.

Hashtag Keep It Real

We all want those that we trust to be “decent” people, we know that we are all flawed. None of us wish to expose our own. Everyone has their thing. Please know that I am not remotely interested in yours and assume the same. It is this that any blackmailer preys upon – the delusion that your private life is of any significant interest. Those possessing a grasp on reality and a healthy amount of self-awareness recognise a world in which we are all flawed. Rather than face our own failings, we live in times that crowds now gather virtually around the corpse du jour, perhaps joining the mellay. Occasionally making a Game of Thrones battle look like a Sunday picnic.

So, haven given it some thought (it is a work in progress) I would encourage everyone, you and me to ignore blackmail. We are what we are, a blackmailer only wins when we pretend to be otherwise. Accept that we have a flawed identity, own the truth.

Here is Ben Elton talking about his book.

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

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

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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

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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IDENTITY CRISIS2019-05-01T11:26:18+01:00

Financial Planning in a Box

Financial Planning in a Box

It is easy to believe that the world is an unsafe place, full of people determined to do us harm or ill. We all know about the continuing extremism and acts of terror, but are increasingly aware that the answers provided by world leaders seem misguided at “best” and “just as bad” at worst. Politics is one way we tend to divide ourselves into camps of allegiance, yet this is simply one of many ways to put each other into a box, indeed perhaps your understanding of financial planning is in a box – or a certain type of box. Perhaps we could remember more about what we share alike than what differentiates us.

Tick Box Approach

Marketing is perhaps the ultimate tool for putting us all into a specific box and if this is done to identify who might benefit from a product or service, then there’s nothing that I can see that’s wrong with it. We might exclude ourselves or be excluded for good reason, the problems come when we are excluded without any valid reason. It ought to be win-win if I am excluded from the mailing list of skydiving weekly – I have no interest in skydiving and cannot believe that this would change. Those marketing skydiving courses or related products are not wasting their resources attempting to offer me great deals. That’s a win-win as far as I can tell.

Outside the Box… or how about a different box?

So, I was challenged and encouraged by a TV advert “All That We Share” from Denmark (and no I’m not on their mailing list either!). A friend shared it and it is a great reminder that the boxes we put each other in can vary enormously, yet the media (not all) and politicians (not all) seem intent on placing us into more limited, confrontational boxes. Its title might have a message for those of us that use social media too – what we share, how and to whom. Anyway, have a look for yourself.

The financial planning angle…

What has this to do with financial planning? Well very little – except to say that your financial plan should be about your life, your values and your future, not the things you think advisers want to hear (a yacht, fast car, enormous house and huge portfolio). These might have a place in your financial plan, but until we meet to discuss it, I’d rather assume nothing and wait to hear your story.

The right fit

So, when it comes to our own marketing, we are looking for people that we can help. That means – helping to improve, organise and structure what you have better, so that it works for you, saving you time, reducing anxiety and bringing about a sense of “peace of mind”. Obviously, we need paying, which means you need to have resources to do so, but its more than that – it’s also for people that are looking for a long-term professional relationship from which we can work on your plan together.

Anyhow, here is the video.

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

Financial Planning in a Box2017-01-30T13:19:14+00:00

Delicious

Delicious

I wonder if you have seen a new Sky 4-part mini series starring Dawn French, Emilia Fox and Iain Glen called “Delicious”. I don’t think I’m giving too much away by saying that it is the story of an apparently successful, once divorced remarried chef, who has an affair with his first wife, who it turns out is the real culinary genius.

Like most good stories, the drama of ordinary lives holds our attention when under the scrutiny of dramatic pressures. The series exposes the problems beneath a beautiful façade of a middle-class life. Set on the idyllic banks of the Tamar river, an entrepreneurial temple of hotelier cuisine is the bling that diverts the eye from seeing what needs to be seen.

Just below the surface

There is an understandable and customary dig at middle-aged men but with a twist on the usual, predictable affair with a younger model, with Leo attempting to have his cake and eat it. A setting of fine dining, lends itself to the customary style over substance debate and of course the market price of every thing.

Wood for the trees

From a financial planning point of view there are numerous warnings that I would hope business owners can heed. One of the problems that business owners, or indeed anyone has, is that they are often too close to the problems to be able to see them clearly, let alone any workable solutions. It is certainly hard to fathom how any decent financial planner could not draw attention to what is revealed within the plot (which I shall not spoil).

Virtually reality?

One of the most popular criticisms of social medial is that it has encouraged us to live false lives, like those contained within magazines, or indeed within television or film. Whilst I’m sure this has some truth and resonance, this all rather depends upon each of our ability to be truthful, yet mindful of impact, timing and social etiquette.  There is nothing new about attempting to be something you are not, which is perhaps one of the oldest dramatic tools.

The truth can be painful

Of course, not everyone wants to see or hear the truth, particularly when it is going to require some change. I sometimes wonder if this is what puts most of population off from seeking financial advice. Deep down most of us know that we need to master our money lest it master us. A financial plan is designed based around your values, grounded in truth and enables you to see ahead to any potential “surprises”. In essence making sure your plans for style have substance.

Here’s the trailer for the series on Sky.

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

Delicious2017-01-27T11:11:25+00:00

What can investors learn from sport?

What can investors learn from sport?

I apologise to those of you that do not like sport, the purpose of this post is not to bleat on like some bloke at the pub who is attempting to name his best eleven… again… but to make an observation about the way people behave and in particular what investors can learn from sport.

I wonder if you watched the final of the T20 World Cup at the weekend. It was a thrilling match – (spoiler alter) England were eventually beaten by the West Indies. The “English” team (nationality in sport is debatable) started badly, losing Roy, Hales and Morgan very quickly. At 23 for 3 things looked pretty bad.

These days I delude myself that I can multi-task, so flicked between TV stations, watching football, Grand Prix, the cricket and keeping an eye on the social media (yes it would appear that I’m rather sad and lacking an attention span). However, getting to my point – social media exposes an array of reactions (commentators term them emotions) that people reveal as they experience an event.

Too early to call

Many had written off England with the fall of the third wicket, several used terms like “game over” before the team had even completed their attempt to score as many runs as possible within 20 overs. The game had not even reached its half-way point, but thousands had already conceded victory.

Its not over until its over

The English fortune turned around equally as quickly once the West Indies began to bat, crumbling to 11 for 3 and struggling for runs. Suddenly there was “hope”. Indeed by the end of the 19th over (of 20) another 19 runs were needed, which seemed out of reach for Carlos Brathwaite, the facing West Indies batsman, who had 10 runs to his name. England were in the proverbial “driving seat” and now expected to win. Brathwaite had other ideas and promptly smashed each of the next deliveries for six runs, resulting in a dramatic victory and tournament win. Of course sad and desperate for Ben Stokes, the English bowler.

Investor behaviour is invariably no different from those on social media at the weekend. Reacting too quickly, feeling depressed, exasperated, then gaining some hope , followed by over confidence, followed by…. Repeat.

Your goals, not someone else’s

Investing is not a hobby, it is not a sport (unless you really are very rich). It is no way to learn about yourself and no place for reactive emotions. We approach the end of the 2015/16 tax year tomorrow. The deadline invariably pushes prices up. Whilst I am obviously (I hope) of the view that allowances ought to be used when appropriate, any investing should only be done if it helps you to reach your goals, not those set by HMRC.

Part of my job is to keep clients disciplined, avoiding mistakes and sticking to their own plans (not mine). This has been termed “adviser alpha” and adds an unquantifiable amount of value, though many attempt to quantify this.

The media in all its forms constantly stirs feelings of anxiety or missing out on opportunity. The vast majority of commentary about investing is about as relevant to your financial plan as any sporting event – completely irrelevant! Trying to perfectly time the market (the opportune moment to buy and sell) is frankly impossible to achieve with consistency. In practice few do so and fewer still can demonstrate this as skill rather than luck.

Have a Successful investing experience

Unlike sport, investing does not have to be about “winner takes all”. Everyone can win if they are investing in a way that fulfils their financial planning goals. They key is remaining calm, disciplined and clear about what you are really trying to achieve.

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 can investors learn from sport?2017-01-06T14:39:18+00:00

Bonfire of the Vanities and Awards

Bonfire of the Vanities and Awards

Perhaps you watched the BAFTAs at the weekend? It was certainly hard to miss Monday morning headlines, which largely featured Leonardo DiCaprio clutching his award for best lead male actor for his role as Hugh Glass in The Revenant.

The double-edge sword of social media is that anyone gets to have a say, which frankly is often unwise. If you follow twitter or any social media, you will probably be aware of the proverbial storm in a teacup following remarks the host Stephen Fry made about Jenny Beavan’s appearance. If you didn’t see it, well, she is a brilliant costume designer and was perhaps the only one that didn’t appear to dress up for the awards, which is generally regarded as a black tie/cocktail dress event. Though some men wear a regular tie rather than a bow tie. Ironic gesture, couldn’t be bothered, making a point, or didn’t read the memo. I have no idea, but as someone that was in London at the same time, one might consider another view that she was appropriately dressed for the weather on 14th February 2016. The truth is I have no idea.

Fury Road

Anyhow, she won a BAFTA for costume design for the film “Mad Max, Fury Road”. Mr Fry made a comment about her attire, which was met with gasps from the audience and a tidal wave of comment on social media. Mr Fry then chose to tackle this head on, saying it was a joke, with a close friend and people should.. well, find other uses for their time…. In fact had this all happened before the film was released, one could have been forgiven for thinking it was a PR stunt (Mad Max, Fury Road).

Et tu Brute?

So why bring this to your attention, what has it to do with financial planning? Nothing and everything. There isn’t a connection, but there is an observable behaviour that took place – that of the herd mentality. It seems that there are a great many people who are very quick to pass judgment without possession of all the facts and very quick to pronounce others as something unpalatable. There was the equivalent of a stampede to get one’s knife in… et tu Brute? The exchange between sides was fairly unsavoury, albeit without a single physical blow.

Investor Behaviour – the herd mentality

This happens with investors too. They panic in a herd and run for the lifeboats, just because someone seems to have yelled “lifeboats?” (or crash). There appears to be little thought of whether the facts are accurate, the context or whether to the lifeboat option is actually the safer approach. If you are RBS and your portfolio is full of rubbish, you might understandably say “sell everything” but if you don’t it makes little sense.

Investor panic is understandable in a world where the media is reporting doom and gloom, red exchange boards and falling stock markets. But remember that the media is there for a variety of reasons, not simply to provide “the truth”. It will never be held accountable for predicting the future other than in a joke about previous blunders.

As I hope you know by now, most investors underperform the market by attempting to time the market – trying to second guess when is the right time to buy and sell. They underperform by around 3%-6% a year. Yet all the time, there are those screaming – do something, sell, buy… whatever the herd is doing. If you don’t believe me check some easily found research at Dalbar.

The Subjectivity of Art

The BAFTAs and any other award ceremony is frankly nice, but just silly. They are highly subjective gongs for a very small number of people, selected by a lightly larger group of people. Yet even within the hallowed walls of such organisations, one wonders if everyone that voted actually saw the films they voted on. Frankly I suspect not. It is the only way I can rationalise some of the winners…. But then its subjective and nobody gets hurt… right?

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

Bonfire of the Vanities and Awards2017-01-06T14:39:19+00:00

Social Media can kill

Solomons-financial-advisor-wimbledon-blogger

Social media can kill

Social media is a mixed blessing, it is almost unparalleled in unforgiving speed, much like an F1 car in the wrong hands. In a climate of assessing the value that we all bring to the smorgasbord of life, the mixture of new technology, aspiration and creativity form the backdrop for a new movie called Chef.

Chef puts heart on the menuChef-Movie

Chef is one man’s journey of rediscovering who he really is, or perhaps more accurately who he could be. Many of us will have harboured dreams of “doing our own thing” some of us get to do this. Most do not; for a vast array of reasons, perhaps “financial security” being one of the more obvious and understandable concerns. This is not quite the usual “American Dream” yarn, but it certainly holds onto the vital ingredients of one.

In essence, we have a man trapped without realising that he is holding the keys. It takes a fairly pithy exchange on social media to expose his repressed feelings about the life he is leading, which catapults him into taking stock and renewing his passion for life….and love. Why I like the film, is that, ok it’s sentimental, (so what!) but in fairness, the main character is a decent guy, he works hard, he’s present, though not always available for his son and he’s making a good living by making great meals. He’s a good chef. Normally films of this genre are more heavy-handed, with the character in crisis at the bottom of his “luck”. This isn’t really the case in Chef.

What Chef offers is the view that life can be more fulfilling…. More flavoursome!…and that perhaps many of the answers are close at hand – perhaps close at home. That the skills you have are enough, but the courage of self belief is lacking. This is not a rags to riches story in the traditional sense, but an unveiling of life’s riches. It combines a sense of the authentic, natural but doesn’t lay waste to, or pour scorn on, the many advantages that modern technology can bring and its ability to make viable “new communities”.

Making a killing?

On one hand, this could be seen as a story about entrepreneurialism, though I don’t think this is really the case, there are admittedly similarities. Rather like entrepreneurs, there is a sense of creating a better future and making choices about it and then decisions to act. This reminded me of a podcast I recently listened to by Dan Sullivan who outlined the difference between choices and decisions. He argues that these are not interchangeable terms, but that a choice is about the future. A decision is about how much of the past you want to take into that future. He reminds us of the Latin root word for “decide” is found in patricide, suicide and so on, a sense of putting to death or killing parts of the past that are not welcomed into the future. So I wonder how many of us are living out a future that hasn’t properly been “chosen” and has yet to “kill off” the unhelpful elements of the past? How might this be the case in your financial planning?

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

Social Media can kill2017-01-06T14:39:35+00:00

Is Solomons on Facebook?

Solomons-financial-advisor-wimbledon-top-banner

Is Solomons on Facebook?FB icon

We have now updated our Facebook page, so yes Solomons is on Facebook. I have no idea if this is a worthwhile exercise and am conscious that time spent using social media is a double-edged sword and of course there are always questions about how much is too much? and not enough?.. it’s a minefield. My aim is to make our use of social media easy. It is an opportunity to provide some information and commentary on what is going on that might be entirely to do with financial stuff or frankly just about vaguely related. So if you would like to have a look and “like” our Facebook page, it is now more alive than it has been before. I’m not expecting a whirlwind of “likes” propelling a small firm onto the world stage and I’m also aware of the amount of junk I have to sift through to get to what I want, so I try hard to avoid doing the same to others. Anyhow, the little “F” on the top of your screen will take you to our Facebook page.

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

Is Solomons on Facebook?2017-01-06T14:39:42+00:00

Anti-social media?

I haven’t posted anything to the blog for a couple of weeks, largely because I was on holiday and taking a rest in southern France. However, whilst I was on my break I had the misfortune to come across a “troll” one of those people in life that seem to spend a lot of time moaning at everyone and anything in a fairly mean-spirited fashion (this one had even been convicted for her trolling activities). It wasn’t that big a deal, I deflected the conversation (or rather actively chose to ignore the insults). Anyone that knows me will appreciate some obvious erroneous statements in the rant. You can have a look for yourself on twitter feed, but frankly I am sure you have better things to do.

Anyhow, it got me wondering if I had made a mistake in my use of social media. Now, I do understand that it isn’t everyone’s “cup of tea” but perhaps if you are reading this, it is more likely to be yours. Yes a lot of what goes on in social media world is inane, but then that could be said of “real life” too. My take on this has been to embrace it as a tool to help people that I work with and for, whilst letting others know that I exist and perhaps could help them too. As my work can be pretty “up close and personal” these days I only work with people I like, in fact I make it a rule. This is a two way street of course. So in fairness, presumably clients or potential clients want rather more from me than the glossy marketing that every other financial firm produces by the  bucket load (especially the ones most focussed on your money and not you). So in the interests of giving a fair reflection I tweet and post as me and not as corporate identity man. Perhaps a mistake, but frankly who knows? I don’t hold myself out as an expert in many aspects of life, financial planning yes, but not in most other areas, but I do have an opinion and I’m old enough to know that I can change it. The Myers Briggs types have me as an ENTJ… perhaps its changed a bit since I did mine, but in short, I do a lot of my thinking and thought forming out loud with collaboration of others…. which does not mean that I cannot be self-reflective.

My troll experience caused me to pause and reflect further. Firstly am I wasting my time? Is this helping anyone? Are my views nothing more than more noise? or does it genuinely help clients see that, surprise surprise, I am a person, say some daft things as well as insightful things. The jury’s still out, but a piece I read this morning suggests that I’m on the right lines, so I will persist. However if you think I’m nuts or need some helpful suggestions, then I’m listening to you. Honestly.

For the record, I had a lovely holiday in southern France, the weather was perfect. I managed to finally get to see the hairpin bend at Monaco and take a stroll along the seafront at Cannes, there are some fantastic medieval towns and the region seems to be rammed with artists, of course the food and wine were excellent – particularly a lovely little restaurant in Valbonne called “le Bistrot du Sommelier” which is worth a visit if you are ever in Valbonne.

Dominic Thomas Solomons IFA

Anti-social media?2017-01-06T14:39:47+00:00
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