JUST THE FACTS?

TODAY’S BLOG

JUST THE FACTS

One of the big electronic billboards that I pass on the way to and from the office has an advert for a London radio station with the strapline “Just The Facts – Headlines Every 20 Minutes”. I’m not against facts, quite the reverse, however they are never in isolation (unlike many of us now).

The facts are truths, but they always require a context. We know this of course, but in an age of constant bombardment of anything either audio, visual or both we are so assaulted by a stream of imagery that we are often left to engage with it in its rawest and poorest form – without a context.

We are all deeply concerned, alarmed and bewildered at some of the scenes we have witnessed lately, particularly in the supermarkets. Then of course there are the stock markets where the same panic has been rife. The incredible thing about this is the speed at which society seems to implode.

YOUTH GROUP 2007

DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOU SEE?

However, as of right now, I wonder if my last sentence is even vaguely true. Society has not imploded, people that I interact with on social media, peers, clients, industry bods, anyone, all seem to have the same bewilderment. They also have the same determination to do what they can to help each other, the exact opposite of the majority of the images we see.

I SEE ALIVE PEOPLE

I am a huge believer in people, in my time I spent many years leading youthwork in my free time. The thing I like about young people is that your input has fairly prompt results and they have a longer future (hopefully) ahead of them. Whilst for a teenager, everything feels like an eternity, it’s all over within a few years. The picture above was taken in the summer of 2007, (that’s me in the corner on the phone) when we took part of the youth group to a festival. Two of them are both due to get married this summer. We’ve been invited but sadly one, perhaps both of them might need to rearrange or adjust their plans given the current pandemic. I’m sure that is disappointing, frustrating and possibly expensive, but they are robust and happy together, more focused on the years ahead together than on the first official day…

COMMUNITY RESPONSES

The road I live on has just started a WhatsApp group. It goes without saying that some of the residents had never heard of WhatsApp. We moved to the area nearly 4 years ago and know a handful of people around us, but suddenly we have all been introduced to each other. Call me sentimental, but I think that’s rather a good thing – the premise has been to help those most impacted and vulnerable with shopping and so forth, but I dare say it will be rather more far reaching.

ALL IS NOT LOST – LOOK AHEAD

So, the markets have fallen. We have all “lost money” (we have not lost money, the value of the assets we own has temporarily reduced – that is all). This is uncomfortable, I don’t wish to understate the problems, but there are already lots of positive and encouraging signs – you just need to look in the right places.

I’m here, still minding the fort and building the bridges and looking forward to tomorrow.  Feel free to get in touch, comment, ask a question, pick up the phone or ask for an online meeting. I will do my best for you.

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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JUST THE FACTS?2020-03-20T17:05:57+00:00

IN SEARCH OF ANSWERS

TODAY’S BLOG

IN SEARCH OF ANSWERS

I had the unwelcome task of writing to clients to advise that the value portfolios have fallen by over 10% since the start of 2020. The emails that I sent seemed to be well received. Today has been another very tough day for investors (and their advisers). The charts are rather frightening, this comes at a time when we are all (most of us anyway) rather anxious about the state of the world and a deep sense of unease.

So, without wishing to fudge any issues, I thought it best that I re-use the bulk of the content that I have been sending.

It is now a regulatory requirement to tell you when a portfolio falls by 10%. This is a new experience for me, despite being an adviser for several decades. I genuinely believe that this new requirement comes from well-meaning regulation, but is entirely counter-productive, because it is essentially alarmist. I will endeavour to add a little more flesh to the bones.

Focus on what is important

SHOULD YOU WORRY?

Should you worry?  No; but anxiety and concern are normal responses to ‘seeing’ the value of your portfolio fall.  Anxiety or fear are normal responses to ‘danger’ or bad news.  We are built that way and it is why we have survived as a species for as long as we have. However, the instinct of ‘flight’ is of no use to investors.  The stock markets of the world fall in value each year.  I would refer you to the various articles I have written about this over the years and remind you that 1 in 4 calendar years have negative returns.  This is part of ‘the norm’ and indeed we don’t get the positive returns without the negative. However yesterday’s headlines of the FTSE’s second largest fall in a single day does not really help calm nerves.

UNCERTAINTY IS NORMAL

The problem with investing is that markets are not predictable, despite appearing so.  What is predictable is irrational investor behaviour. This is precisely why we ask you to complete an attitude to risk questionnaire.  So that a suitable portfolio is constructed for you – one that provides the chance of delivering the returns you need whilst enabling you to sleep at night.  You will have experienced similar falls in value before, but either didn’t notice, or were reassured.

WHAT IS A LOSS?

When the value of anything falls, it only impacts those selling.  A crash in property prices, impacts those selling their home, most of us do not notice, although it may provide conversation around the dining table with friends or colleagues.  Unlike property, the value of equities and bonds are transparently priced throughout the day in a highly regulated market.  When you sell your home, frankly the price is a bit of a guess by the estate agent, surveyor and then haggled over by seller and buyer … in practice, a very small and biased market.

The key is not to panic; not to sell.  You know this, but we also know it is hard to do.  You know that you should sell at the top and buy at the bottom, however as humans we tend to do the exact opposite.  I’m not going to pretend that this doesn’t make us all wince and wonder, but equally I will remind you to stick to your plan – yours; not those of a media which seems only intent on making you miserable.

Your portfolio is globally diversified, it is well balanced, it is low cost and it is properly reviewed.  We have biases towards smaller and value equities which over time will demonstrate to be better value.  There is a  huge amount of research that should you wish it, I can point you to.  However, I tend to think of that as my job … to help you make better decisions with money and help reduce or avoid all the daft ones.

THE UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTH

If you are investing on a monthly basis, the fall in prices is a bit of a bonanza – because you buy more for the same money.  We expect values to rise.  They will; it’s just a question of when.  For those who add lump sums, similarly now is essentially a discount sale that will not last.

Those who are withdrawing money have a much tougher time.  The fall in prices means you sell more holdings to get the same figure out. Thereby not benefitting as much when prices rebound.  They will, and you will, but not as much.  In an ideal world, you will have discussed and outlined your plans for income or lump sum withdrawals and we have already factored this in.  If you need to review this, then please get in touch.

DO NOT OBSESS OVER THIS

Looking at your portfolio each day will never help anyone.  It will rarely provide comfort.  Worry will not help you to live your life well.  You have to trust that the fundamentals of investing will remain true today, next week and next year as they have done over the decades.  Yes – there are ‘bad times’, but remember that market returns are positive 3 in 4 years on average, we simply don’t know the order or reason.

You are investing for decades and I have no doubt that this too will pass.

YOUR COMPLETE FINANCIAL LIFE

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.

=

IN SEARCH OF ANSWERS2020-03-12T18:04:54+00:00

Don’t Panic! Captain Mainwaring… don’t panic!

Don’t Panic Captain Mainwaring

I find it increasingly difficult to resist the temptation to comment on the world stock markets. The media is constantly moving from positions of fear or greed, buy or sell. This serves their purpose of having something to say and of course becomes something that they then have to continue to say for fear of not providing “the news”. Of course panic is contagious and whenever I see it, I tend to think of Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army – don’t panic Captain Mainwaring.

So what is happening? The price of oil has fallen dramatically. The Chinese economy is not growing as quickly as it was. There is nervousness about the UK leaving the EU, the possibility of a thug winning the US presidential election, perhaps forcing a showdown with anyone with different opinion. Europe has little idea about what to do with thousands fleeing war in Syria or their own ravaged economies offering few prospects of employment. Our own austerity is causing our public services significant stress and of course there is the recurring fears about viruses, war, the environment and terrorism which all play into the narrative of “its bleak”.

Fear and Greed

Shares are part, ownership of businesses. The value of which is based in part on its actual physical assets (premises, stock etc.) and part on future revenue streams (forward orders, based on data from historic orders). There is also the matter of market share, industry sector and general perception of the company. The price of shares is therefore in part objective maths, part subjective opinion.

The problem with sudden shifts in price are invariably linked to a herd mentality – playing inevitably into two camps – fear or greed.

We know this when we invest. It is not new news, but it is certainly hard to live with, particularly when the noise is very loud and the doom-sayers are everywhere.

Any real changes?

If you have genuinely altered your long-term goals and do not wish to invest ever again, you probably should rethink your entire strategy, perhaps investing is not for you. I am being serious.

However if your long term goals remain roughly the same, then the key question is has anything really changed?

Diversification

Your portfolio is split across a variety of asset classes, shares, bonds, cash and commodities. There is a global spread. You have a diversified portfolio. We have established tried and tested evidence based analysis to check that you have the right “mix” of holdings to suit your attitude to risk. To date, whilst the markets have been “disappointing” (understatement) since April 2015, the degree of “shock” is within your tolerance, but it is of course deeply unnerving, very unsatisfying and frustrating.

Time in the market not timing the market

However we are holding to the long-term principles of disciplined investing, which have been proven successful over time. This is simply part of the investment experience, albeit “painful”.

It is very tempting to think that getting out of the market now (or 12 months ago) would provide some solidity. However this is based on the notion of being able to time the market and determine opportune points to get in and out of the market (and which market). This is really therefore a double decision, when to sell and then when to buy again.

Historically, investors (professional and private) get this very wrong. Invariably they panic and sell towards or at the bottom of a market, and then decide to invest again once they are confident in the recovery (which has already happened by the time they get back “in”). This leads to further frustration and doing the exact opposite of what we all know investing is about – sell at the top, buy at the bottom. Selling holdings is the only actual way to make a loss real.

Reserve Levels

Any discussion about your financial plan has involved thinking about an appropriate amount of cash to hold on deposit – your emergency fund. You may have used some of this, you may not. It is there as a buffer, and is designed to mean that you don’t have to take money from investments when they are suffering. Perhaps some adjustments may be prudent, but this is your choice, money should serve you, not the other way around.

I am not pretending that the market turmoil is not scary. This is a normal, understandable reaction to headline news. I know of nobody that likes to lose money. Everyone wants high rewards for low risk. However, unless your circumstances have really changed, if you are at the end of your tether with the concept of “investing”, then stick to the course, taking the life-long perspective.

Pain is part of growth, falls are part of average annual returns, finance is not magic and doesn’t provide any real account of who or what you are.

We remain vigilant, we continue to work in your interests but yes, your funds have reduced in value, but we have no good reason to believe that this will be a permanent status. We do not have a crystal ball and cannot predict the future with certainty, nobody can (despite inferences by others). We are doing our best in an imperfect world. Thankfully, this is 2016 and we are not on rations or at war with the world and whilst not dismissing our troubles (which are very real) perhaps some old school laughter might help.

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

Don’t Panic! Captain Mainwaring… don’t panic!2017-01-27T11:00:44+00:00

Where does the time go?

Where does all the time go?

It’s the holiday season. All being well in a couple of days I will be poolside, reflecting on the year so far and what I still need to do, (being a couple of things that readily come to mind) and no doubt I will wonder, yet again “where does all the time go?”

Holidays are a little like landmarks in time. My daughters often use holidays as a reminder for helping us recall when other things happened, for example, a recent question about our aging cat (who went to move in with the neighbours when the dog arrived) was answered by recalling where we were and what else was going on when we picked him up… all referenced by our family holiday of that year.

So this week I will be reflecting on the a small milestone. It will be 16 years since I formally received permission from the regulator to open the doors at Solomons. Sixteen years. It seems that I have endured rather longer than the regulator, which is in its third revision or Doctor Who like regeneration in the same period.

Taking Stock

I hope that this doesn’t sound twee, but I really enjoy helping my clients. I love real stories and helping clients plot new ones – or rather the life that they want in the future. Of course I don’t make it happen – they (you) do that. However I have the opportunity to prompt thought, vision and help clarify it, occasionally acting as a type of permission-giver due to being able to demonstrate what would happen if…

That’s what I love about financial planning. Like most people, I find financial products rather dull and invariably remain sceptical and suspicious of the wider workings of the financial services industry, which resulted in the formation of the company and the business model of transparent charges and a “level playing-field” approach.

It is with some degree of surprise that I read my trade press suggesting a further 22% of advisers will close within the next year because more changes to commission are coming or feared. The change being that it will be turned off…. yet this is what we did 16 years ago.

Woodstock …. or out in the Wilderness

At the weekend I attended “Wilderness” a festival held in Oxfordshire. It was my first visit (its fifth year) and having been to quite a number of different festivals over the years, it was interesting to experience the evidently more affluent middle-class approach. I was struck by the irony of it being located near Woodstock  and connotations with the east-coast American hippy counter-culture festival started in 1969 of the same name. What was once counter-cultural has become both “fashionable” and highly commoditized over the last 46 years. Sadly I missed the V&A museum’s take on this observation, which is true of many, if not all festivals, not simply Wilderness, who have by far the best on-site food (I admit to indulging in a superb banquet fit for a King at the Hix on-site restaurant and the odd glass of champagne at the Lauren-Perrier orangery) all of which you won’t find at your typical summer festival. Nobody dared mention the phrase champagne socialism too loudly.

Anyway, one of the talks/seminars I attended was called “State of the Nation” hosted by Jolyon Rubinstein which raised questions about business, stock markets and economics. Despite festival attire, many of those attending are probably the sort of people (of all ages) that seek out financial advice, yet few seemed to really appreciate how much financial services eeks out of their wealth in charges…. something that I hope is evidently clear to our clients  and why I set out 16 years ago to be transparent and use low-cost investing techniques. I guess it is good that finally others are waking up to better understanding of economics, wealth and planning. As many festival revellers seemed to come from the London area, perhaps rethinking or dare I say even re-imagining financial planning resides within striking distance of Wimbledon…. and we’ve been walking the talk – living it for some time.

What Wilderness has done is to break into the imagination of those more right of centre, higher earners, who are also desperately aware of the unfairness of the “system” and have found some comfort in various, albeit expensive forms of alternative…. a sure sign for hope.

Do share this with your friends..

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

Where does the time go?2017-01-06T14:39:25+00:00
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