Environment on the human psyche

Sam Harris 
March 2023  •  5 min read

The effect of environment on the human psyche

It’s a cold story. The tale of a perilous journey across an apocalyptic wasteland. Crumbling buildings, nefarious outlaws and unearthly creatures that lurk in the dark, once human, but not anymore. This is the premise of The Last of Us. An episodic series based on the video game of the same name. To say I’m invested would probably be somewhat of an understatement. Pedro Pascal is exceptional in his portrayal of Joel, the lead character. Though much like the original game a decade ago, what has truly blown me away is the atmosphere. Surreal backdrops, from spectral city silhouettes to the crepuscular ruins of abandoned structures. The show’s aura is all encompassing, the attention to detail pays off and hooks you in with a supreme level of immersion. Which brings me to the main subject of this blog post, how your surroundings and environment can affect your emotions and state of mind.

Do you ever get that giddy feeling when it snows? For me, it doesn’t even need to settle to put a smile on my face. Yet when it does, the landscape totally changes. It feels like a different world. An undeniable scene of natural beauty. Streets and rooftops covered in blankets of white, the roads are quiet. A picture of serenity. It takes you back to the halcyon days of childhood: snowball fights, snow angels and the unmistakable crunch of the first steps across virgin snowfall. My immediate surroundings invariably have some degree of influence on how I think and feel. To me, this is what makes one’s environment so important. Even when it comes to money. Especially when it comes to financial planning.

This is one of the many reasons why at Solomon’s we feel it’s so crucial to develop personal, lasting relationships with our clients. To provide you with that confidence and level of trust which, let’s face it, is an absolute requirement in the financial industry. Furthermore, we endeavor to utilize user- friendly tools and services that present and collect information with utmost clarity and efficiency. Ultimately, isn’t that why people seek financial advice? To reduce uncertainty and stress. Finding yourself in an unpleasant environment can cause doubt and turmoil. Let us walk through the snow together

Environment on the human psyche2023-12-01T12:12:36+00:00



The lack of money will test anyone and has a tendency to play havoc with relationships. This is explored in the new movie “Wildlife” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan and new, rising star Ed Oxenbould. Set in the late 1950s at the crossroads of domestic politics in the US, we enter the world of an aspirational family. Jerry and Jeanette Brinson are shackled by their class background and struggling with compromises between their traditional upbringing and the reality of life as they experience it.

Jerry loses his job which seems to be something of a familiar story, this forces them to confront how the family might realistically pull together, meaning Jeanette would need to find work. Their son Joe helps out too, by finding after school work. Whilst the lack of money may be the catalyst, the sad reality is that the Brinson’s are not good communicators, each having flaws that make things worse rather than any better. Their dysfunction is played out before Joe, who struggles to comprehend how his once seemingly nice, normal family life becomes a chaotic lonely environment.


Fighting the Bonfire of our Vanities

Whilst set in the late 1950s and early 1960s, there are of course parallels for today. The lack of work in parts of any country turns it into a wasteland with few signs of hope. Whilst it is undeniably true that the percentage of people in poverty is reducing, this does not mean that life is easy or even good for many people. It is precisely this lack of hope, the desire to blame anyone or anything different, that certain politicians will take advantage of. The sense of shame in being poor and the anxiety that it produces cannot be overstated. Jeanette will trade her dignity for security. Jerry will dice with death just to demonstrate his contempt for his lot. Joe, meanwhile (a boomer) is caught in the crossfire, trying to make sense of the gap between child and adult and what becoming a man might mean for him.

You get one lifetime but another shot at honesty

One of the biggest assumptions that financial plans make is that a couple remains together. Sadly, this can often be a mistake. That’s not to say that divorce or separation are a “sad” thing, it can be healing and of course healthier. What I mean is that the self-awareness required to allow for this or make provision for it is often lacking. The assumptions being made about investment returns or taxes are frankly small beer when it comes to division of assets and the implications for all.

Here’s 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

WHEN MONEY TALKS AND WE DON’T2023-12-01T12:17:43+00:00



One of the movies that I enjoyed at the BFI London Film Festival was “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”. You may remember the story about an American biography writer who, was a fairly difficult person to be around. Most of us are aware of the difficulties in earning a living as a writer. Some do exceedingly well, most struggle to repeat the success of one or two notable works.

Lee Israel is one such author, having published a couple of biographies, writers block or creative inertia sets in. Inevitably the reality of paying bills becomes increasingly harder. Her management of stress (or lack of) resulted in having nobody to turn to for comfort or encouragement. Aside from a cat, social connections are as sparse as the flow of words on the blank page that stares back at her. She happens upon Jack Hock, (Richard E Grant) an Englishman surfing the bars and streets of New York. He becomes her only confidant and accomplice.

Solomons IFA review Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Finders Keepers?

Opportunity presents itself whilst doing research, she finds a letter hidden within the pages of a library book. Hoping nobody has noticed and applying “finders-keepers” she takes it. The letter is sold to pay her rent. The idea takes hold that personalised letters from deceased authors and actors are collectable. Israel has a genuine talent for understanding character and replicating their voice. She sets about forging letters and selling them to dealers, who invariably lack the motivation to have the letters authenticated. They appear to be what they probably could not be, yet money changes hands, because money talks. This eventually evolves into stealing genuine letters and replacing them with forgeries.

Research and Evidence 

Eventually the FBI close in on Israel, hence how her story is known. There is little to suggest that this is a criminal mastermind or indeed a particularly tenacious investigation by the FBI, who seem sufficiently inept as to tip her off that they will be examining her apartment, enabling Israel to dispose of all evidence of her wrongdoing.

Financial Fraud 

You may have a perspective on this sort of criminal act, forgery. Yet again, this is an example of what people will do under the wrong pressures. However, it is also evident that people are often persuaded by appearances and rarely look beneath. This is particularly pertinent in most financial fraud. The temptation of market beating returns or guarantees, when a closer inspection will reveal something altogether different. The regulator does its best to prevent financial fraud, but of course this is all part of the human condition, to play upon the duplicity or naivety of others. Fraud is something that we are constantly checking, but many are duped. As we are now in the season of keeping warm inside, if you or your friends are discussing the latest fantastic offering, please remember this – and ask for proper, regulated advice.

I enjoyed the movie, which stars Melissa McCarthy providing a really sharp portrayal of Lee Israel and Richard E Grant as Jack Hock. 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

CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?2023-12-01T12:17:44+00:00

Would You Risk It?

Solomons-financial-advisor-wimbledon-bloggerWould You Risk It?

I recently watched a Swedish film by Ruben Ostlund called “Force Majeure” which had me squirming in my seat. Its the story of a family on a skiing holiday in the alps, who get caught up in an avalanche, which of course is merely symbolic of everything else that is going on in their lives. It’s a convincing story if somewhat realist and slow in pace. As someone that has only been skiing once (which I loved) but also knowing many people that have had fairly miserable and even tragic tales from the slopes, this film ended any thoughts I had about taking my family on a skiing holiday, even though I am well aware that it can be a wonderful experience. force majeure

I won’t spoil the story for you and it probably isn’t what you may expect of the story from simply using the words family, holiday, skiiing, avalanche. However this is an exhausting look at how stress is handled, magnified in the dynamic of a family holiday. In the film, the couple (Tomas and Lisa) seem much more willing to take risks and lead their two young children in a way that I simply wouldn’t even contemplate – because I think of them as being unsafe. However its deeper than that.. its also the risks people understand and assess (or not) on a much broader level. The nation that build Volvo’s (the safest cars?) flips the notion of risk on its head when reduced to the individual and relationships.

The film prompted much discussion and reflection, but with my my financial planner hat on, I tried to draw a few lessons. On the one hand, the setting of busy people carving out time to spend with their family and friends and enjoying “the good life” is some of the “stuff” that is talked about in a financial planning meeting… ie. how do you really want to spend your time? what do you value? what’s the purpose/reason for you working so hard? This is only part of the start of a conversation, which invariably lasts much longer than a single meeting…. after all we are discussing your life plans right?

In the design and implementation of a financial plan and experiencing the “process” I believe that many of our clients look for a sense of leadership and guidance, not in a patronising way, but one that reflects a weathered, seasoned expert that has been on the track getting people from A to B. I do not believe that they expect me to take shortcuts, go off-piste or compose a different version of reality to suit my perspective. There is far more to it than simply getting from A to B anyway… its the journey and your unique values and “milestones”.

Many of us were brought up to ask questions, but soon learned that to do so exposed a lack of knowledge. The peer pressure of school for many is more than sufficient to have the opposite effect to the one your teacher hoped for. For many this carries into adult life, not wishing to ask “dumb questions” for fear of being seen to appear foolish. I believe that there are no “dumb questions”… none of us knows everything. So in the perilous world of investing and planning a life (which doesn’t come with an instruction book) it is sensible to get a guide, someone that you can trust to help you with your journey. Even the best skiiers were taught and the very best still get coached.

The final sequence in the film reveals someone that is paid to take people from A to B yet appears to possess none or very few of the required practical skills, let alone social ones. As for me, I may have a different take on the risk of skiing, those of you that are skiiers may think I’m daft… that’s not really my point, but merely to highlight and understand the risks involved. Thats also partly what I do for clients – helping them to see the risks that they are really running, be that taking too much (or too little) investment risk, banking their future on the sale of their home/business, gaining an inheritance and so on… none of which is “wrong” provided that you know what you are getting into… its not a matter of “a different perception” but of seeing what is there. Just because I wouldn’t risk it, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t… but you may want to benefit from taking a moment or two to ensure that your thinking and assumptions are “solid” and that you aren’t standing on very thin ice… or hurtling down a mountain in the fog. So what are the risks you are running within your own financial planning? Why not begin a conversation with me to make your journey much more sure-footed.

Here’s the trailer. Do get out to support your local independent cinema and independent movies/arts if you can.

Dominic Thomas

Would You Risk It?2023-12-01T12:40:05+00:00
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