THE WRONG KIND OF GREEN

TODAY’S BLOG

THE WRONG KIND OF GREEN

I appreciate that we are now in the throes of an election campaign, I am not referring to the Green Party. You may think that I’m also about to embark on another piece about the green stuff we all know as money and how quantitative easing (QE) hasn’t worked for the right people, merely inflated markets and the balance sheets of the richest. Frances Coppola has a very good book on this topic (“The People’s Case for Quantitative Easing”).

Today is Halloween 2019. It was only a few days ago that Good Money Week concluded. This is a noble attempt to broaden the knowledge of investors about sustainable and ethical investments, these days called ESG investing.

Failing to understand the investment world whilst holding cash in a miserly deposit accounts and having a heart to do good makes for a dangerous mix. Green or ethical investment is mainstream these days. We have always offered ethical investment screening and I have recently reviewed selections within our portfolios, making some changes. As mentioned, I was also challenged to have ESG as the default portfolio for clients, having an opt out rather than an opt in approach.

WOOD FOR THE TREES

Life savings gone

About a year ago a friend of a friend got in touch about an investment that she had made. She had invested all her life savings into what she thought was a fund that invested in renewable energy. Sadly, it was a scam and scams require the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to get involved.

Seeing the wood for the trees

Today a similar story reached my desk. Yesterday the SFO made an arrest at Gatwick airport of one Omari Bowers who together with Andrew Skeene was a Director of Global Forestry Investments (GFI). The SFO have been investigating them and their company for alleged frauds between August 2010 and December 2015. According to the report Bowers has failed to attend two Court appearances over the summer. On Monday Mr Skeene appeared at Southwark Crown Court where he has been charged with three offences of conspiracy to defraud, four counts of forgery and one of misconduct in the course of winding up.

GFI had been promoted as a safe, ethical investment in Brazilian teak plantations, with investors offered to buy land and harvest steady profits. Now pause. Read that again. Think of what we “know” about the trees in Brazil.

Cutting it down to size…

Maria Thedoulou of law firm Stokoe writes “GFI was one of two schemes run by the former directors promoting two teak investment schemes in Brazil. The Insolvency Service found GFI received £20,146,631 from the sale of plots in the Belem Sky Project and £3,863,185 from plots sold in the Para Sky Project. In respect of Belem Sky, investors were offered the chance to invest a minimum of £5,000 in the teak plantation for promised returns of “10-20%” per annum. While investors who contributed to the £24 million plus pot in fact saw little or no returns, over £13 million arising from the sale of the plots went into the bank accounts of Bowers and Skeene.”

How can rogues access your funds?

I’m sure that you will appreciate that there are rogues “out there” attempting to part you from your money. In practice the UK is tightly regulated, so by and large it isn’t easy to buy a scam investment, though adverts of Facebook and the internet generally make this possible. Most scams of this nature are done through your pension – a SIPP. Eh? Don’t I have one of those? Well probably if you are a client of ours. In the same way that you probably own a car. There is nothing wrong with a SIPP, its simply a self-invested personal pension. When used properly it is a brilliant pension. If you fill it with dross (because you can) then it will turn toxic on you very quickly. The same being true of attempting to fill your car up with chocolate. It won’t work. Yet there are “advisers” (for which I mean liars and con men) that will not only assist but promote such ludicrous schemes. One such advisory firm being “Emerald Knight” – do google them. This stuff is awful. People like Angela Brooks will be a source of some comfort as she continues to fight the good fight against these sorts of scams, which happen all the time (Angela appears in our magazine Spotlight- October 2019).

Hard wood, soft wood – would that it were so simple

I understand that the stock market may be confusing and perhaps scary. Companies go bust, we regularly hear about billions being wiped off the markets. Yet the truth is rather different. You never, ever hear “billions were wiped onto the markets today”. You rarely hear that these are actual businesses, employing people and solving problems. You simply hear about those that dodge tax. If you buy a market tracking type of fund, you own all of the companies, “good” and “bad”. These are traded in highly regulated markets every second of the day. Market fraud leads to prison. Certainly investing is not for everyone. If you have enough money in the bank to provide you with all your needs, allowing for inflation until your death, you probably do not need to invest. The rest of us do. Get proper advice about how to do this. You can apply ethical / SRI or ESG criteria to your investments, but above all use an adviser that is not promoting dross and saying things you want to hear, but deep down there are alarm bells ringing that something is desperately wrong.

If you know someone that is comtemplating investing in this sort of stuff or has mentioned “a great investment opportunity” to you please tread carefully, give them my details and tell them to get in touch before their investments go up in a cloud of smoke.

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

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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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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THE WRONG KIND OF GREEN2019-10-31T14:06:26+00:00

SPOTLIGHT OCTOBER 2019

TODAY’S BLOG

SPOTLIGHT – OCTOBER 2019

By now as a client you should have received a copy of Spotlight. This is our own in-house publication. This issue has the broad theme of “power”. As you will have gathered, assuming that our politicians remain on course, we are now entering the election period and it will be interesting to see various manifestos. There may well be a change at number 10 Downing Street.

In the client magazine you will find an interview with several clients – Mike, Chris, Corinna and James. Alexandra Truesdale provided a piece about Will Power and the importance of a Will. Iona Bain considered some of the issues that face young people when attempting to save for their future. I also asked Angela Brooks to write a piece about the dreadful frauds and scams that she helps to rectify. There is the ususal piece “Cops and Robbers” which looks at other scams and issues that the regulators has been contending with including the Woodford funds and the London Capital & Finance Mini Bonds.

I also review the first 6 months of 2019 from an investment performance perspective, highlighting where the growth and returns came from. If you didn’t receive a hard copy and would like one, please get in touch. Click here for a digital version.

Spotlight October 2019

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

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

=

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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SPOTLIGHT OCTOBER 20192019-10-30T16:12:30+00:00

SPOTLIGHT

TODAY’S BLOG

SPOTLIGHT – MARCH 2019

I’m delighted to announce that copies of our new client magazine are on the way to you. Please let me know what you think about the magazine. We have put a lot of effort into creating something that is hopefully educational, interesting and informative. We have some extra copies if you have a friend that might like to see some of the work that we have done, just ask and we can either send you another or pop one in the post to someone else.

I am genuinely seeking some feedback – what works, what you would like to see more of. One of the many advantages of being a small service business is that we can adapt things to suit fairly easily. The magazine is really the result of client feedback and input. Hopefully we have got the tone about right, but we always want to improve. My assumption is that we will do better.

Spotlight March 2019

CONTENTS

  • What we’ve been working on
  • Barn 6
  • Review of 2018
  • Espresso Marketing
  • Making Tax Digital
  • Now we are happily retired
  • Revealed Travel
  • Sarah walks her own path
  • The Open banking revolution
  • What’s ahead for 2019
  • Cops and Robbers

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

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

=

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.

=

SPOTLIGHT2019-03-27T15:14:02+00:00

So where are our blindspots?

So where are our blind spots?

The new movie Spotlight is both horrific and brilliant. It is in the same genre as “All The President’s Men” but is about the story of a local community that ignored the child abuse in their midst at the hands of the local catholic church. The collective blind spot on many levels in all walks of life.

Whilst the story is fascinating and a triumph of investigative journalism, the subject matter is of course alarming. Yet whilst we may be disturbed by the, frankly deliberate corruption, there isn’t the typical easy solution of laying the blame squarely at one person or institution. There is very much a sense of collective failure to act on the seemingly obvious.

Don’t misunderstand me, clearly the perpetrators are responsible for their horrendous actions, but the film also exposes the problems of a culture that doesn’t wish to rock the boat if “best interests” are to be served.

A Painful Truth

The great sadness of the film is the damage that is done by the abusers, who largely appear to continue their unrepentant behaviour. Yet of course, whilst this is set in Boston, the uncomfortable truth is that most abuse does not happen in the church, it happens in homes, across the country in alarming numbers…. in our own villages, towns and streets. Yet, I imagine that few of us are confronted by this reality, perhaps I’m wrong.

The truth is often painful which is of course why we generally wish to avoid it. It is easier to believe that abusers damage a small number of people and get caught. The truth is perhaps rather different. The issue of child abuse is of course incredibly delicate, but the mechanics of our ability to see or confront the truth applies to all aspects of life. Our relationship with immigrants, our foreign policy, our sale of weapons to hideous regimes, our spending habits and addictions.

Having a financial plan that is based around your own values will to some degree reflect your ability to face and handle the “truth”. Financial planners are not magicians, we cannot make pain go away, we can help identify your values and goals and build a plan around them, but we cannot cheat death or illness or disaster. We can insure against them. I wonder sometimes if some people do not have a financial plan, because of a reluctance to hear or see the truth of their current situation as any decent planner will be suggesting some changes to behaviours, which may be uncomfortable. The truth is that we all feel like this at times, but at some point, recognise that the truth is far better than denial.

The movie is now out here in the UK and has some great performances, here is the official 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

So where are our blindspots?2017-02-02T13:40:43+00:00
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