EVERYONE KNOWS, BUT NOTHING IS SAID

TODAY’S BLOG

EVERYONE KNOWS, BUT NOTHING IS SAID

I wonder if you have played Scruples. I haven’t done so for many years, I remember it as one of those ice-breaker/get-to-know-you games that occasionally got wheeled out at a student party. How truthful and how flexible with the truth are we with one another? Perhaps there has been an episode or incident in your life ,or that of a friend, where everyone seems to know something is awry, but nothing is said. To some this is friendship, to others it is dishonesty.

Money is one of those very divisive topics, aside from income and discussions about fairness, how we all spend it and use it tends to be something that is often hidden. We see some degree of opinion exposed in the media, largely chastising both the very wealthy for their luxury spending and those that are poorer – spending money on “non-essentials”. To say that it is a loaded and often heated topic would be an understatement.

All My Sons, London Old Vic Solomons IFA Blog

A Financial Plan based on reality

The problem for you and I is that in order to provide any meaningful financial plan, you have to declare your real-world spending, so that I can build a plan to enable you to continue to maintain your lifestyle, but also attempt to help more of your own money stick to you. What good is it if I build a plan to deliver an income of £30,000 a year when £45,000 is actually needed. This is a precarious aspect of the adviser/client relationship. In the nearly 3 decades that I have been advising clients, I have very rarely met anyone that hasn’t struggled with completing a spending plan. I have been told the experience is difficult, it raises issues of where has the money gone and what have I to show for it?

The intention is not to expose, embarrass or shame, simply to understand and see things for what they are, without value judgement. I cannot see how I can do a proper job for my clients without understanding how much money they have and need each month to support their lifestyle. Honesty about where we are now is vital in order to enable us to reach the future together. Financial denial is no different from any other form of denial. It can feel comforting, but there are consequences to failing to face realities.

Family Secrets 

I was reminded if this as I was watching “All My Sons” by Arthur Miller (1947). A powerful play that I had seen before in 2010. The play is based on a true story. The main characters all know a discomforting truth which is shameful. The neighbourhood also all know of this, perhaps discussing in private, but otherwise ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room. Whilst a son, a missing in action pilot, acts as the delusion in which others share, it is merely representative of a deeper, darker truth, that a great injustice has been done. In many senses exposing this discomforting truth is a patriotic and righteous act. In reality Miller, was called before the House of Un-American Activities (hard to comprehend this today) on 21 June 1956 to explain himself for writing the play, which casts a wary eye over the American Dream.

To have the future you want, we need to understand your goals and the reality of your situation. Everyone is entitled to dream, but my job is to build a path to the future, not prop up ladders to castles in the sky.

If you don’t know the play I will not spoil it for you, but at the heart is the sense of blood money – or at least money earned deceitfully.

“Chris, I want you to use what I made for you … I mean, with joy, Chris, without shame … with joy…. Because sometimes I think you’re … ashamed of the money…. Because it’s good money, there’s nothing wrong with the money.”

It doesn’t have to be like this… 

I’m not implying that clients earn their money deceitfully! – I’ve only had one instance where this was actually the case and we didn’t proceed… well you don’t want to upset a mercenary really do you! We all know that money is loaded with sentiment, assumptions and values – many learned from our families or social structures. Money doesn’t have to be divisive, secretive or delusional. We can talk about it honestly.

As for the play, currently it is being performed at the Old Vic and stars Bill Pullman and Sally Field until the 8th June. In my honest opinion, it is Colin Morgan as Chris Keller that delivers the strongest performance. One definitely to watch. Here is the trailer and click here for tickets.

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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EVERYONE KNOWS, BUT NOTHING IS SAID2019-05-15T14:22:05+01:00

CHRISTMAS BELLS ARE RINGING…

CHRISTMAS BELLS ARE RINGING

There are moments during every Christmas when something is captured that seems to remind me of the optimism that Christmas can bring. This is no small feat as each year brings a tendency to be ever more cynical and exasperated by the lack of progress our world makes in terms of living peacefully with one another. It seems that each year the numbers sleeping rough on the streets of London become ever greater and the yet ever more anaesthetising my conscience. The recent death of a homeless man outside Parliament is taken as a fact that is almost un-shocking.

One such moment, occurred last night at the National Theatre. A truly mesmerising production of “A Christmas Carol”. Transported back to Victorian London, we gather around the streets of London. The Old Vic is reconfigured once again for an immersive experience and a truly wonderful set of paths chosen, doors opened or closed and the ever-calling chimes of time. We are confronted by a belligerent Mr Scrooge, played by Stephen Tompkinson. We all know the story of course, yet this production manages to capture something fresh and important, an echo of the past for present and our future.

SOLOMONS IFA - THE OLD VIC A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Time and timeless

The performances are moving and heart-warming, despite the progress we have made as a society the same ills are evident. The words are as apt today as they were when Dickens wrote them. The story seemed to continue once we left, walking through the half-lit empty cobbled backstreets of Waterloo, under the arch of Cornwall Road where a soup kitchen was in full flow. How to find joy and pleasure in all things – something that the reformed Mr Scrooge achieves.

Lighting your path

Whatever life throws at us, however the next few months take shape, there will be dark moments. But we shall be here, holding a torch to the path that you have chosen, helping lead you to your chosen destination. Your portfolio may take a knock or two, it has already, but it is set on firm and timeless principles, designed for your story, not the latest news story, set in harmony with your values. We are all the sum of our choices, let us make good ones together.

As for the show, I would encourage you to get along to see it, tickets are still available and its a great show for your entire family.

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

Email me
CHRISTMAS BELLS ARE RINGING…2019-01-17T11:04:20+00:00

Mood Music

Mood Music

There is a rather wonderful new play in town – Mood Music. It is a must see (or must read) for any budding musician, attempting to start a career, with exacting performances from a cast, presented with a script and characters to really embody. They do so at the Old Vic and I wonder if this is perhaps something of a statement about a previous head of all things, now exposed for aspects of his behaviour, perhaps I am reading too much into things..

Ownership

Mood Music explores the blatant abuse of power and use of young women in particular. The tensions, contradictions and hunger for validation. This is a timely play if nothing else, but something else it certainly is. A wickedly brilliant insight into the mind of a psychopath, a man detached from any sense of responsibility, guilt or shame. We get to see the workings of some brilliant therapists, whose laser-like precision on identifying root causes, the projections and transferences are dismissed as fraudulent by one who is desperately wrestling with her own sense of fraudulence and by another who merely toys with words that simply have no meaning, where everything is blurred.

The music industry is rife with the scenario portrayed in the play, yet we are also reminded that it exists in all walks of life. It seems that hardly a week passes without yet another “great” being exposed for their very base, flawed behaviours. The media which brought fame and success is now a very real double-edged sword, or perhaps more accurately providing a new meaning to double exposure.

Financial services is yet another sector that is largely run by psychopaths. This is perhaps why the regulatory punishments that are handed out have, for very large businesses (Banks) made such little difference. The penalty is invariably worth the short-term gain and one thing that seems reliable is the investors short-term memory (we tend to forget how badly some have behaved) and general inertia (we don’t move our accounts).

Still not enacting the Kill Clause

I recently came across a mailing from a large bank, that over the years has been in hot water on a regular basis, yet even now, with their charges in black and white, almost clear, there is a sense that even this will not be enough to motivate investors to leave. I wonder if this is so do with behavioural economics – an unwillingness to admit error and move on, hoping, despite the historic evidence that this time will be different. Well, today is different, just like every other day. Little actually changes.

The systems that support the vampire-like tendencies of those “in charge” threaten the well-being of us all, not because they go unpunished, but because they simply do not care. Detached from the real life of ordinary people, money becomes a game where scores are kept without any conscience or awareness of what the point is.

As for Mood Music, catch it at The Old Vic. Fantastic performances by all the cast, notably Ben Chaplin and it runs until 16 June. Some quite brilliant lines from playwright Joe Penhall.

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

Email me to get in touch
Mood Music2018-06-04T15:55:45+01:00

Art and the art of friendship

Art and the art of friendship

There is a revival of the play “Art” currently in residence at The Old Vic. This is a comedic and (as is invariably the case) deeply poignant play, making observations about friends and relationships.  The focus is a work of art itself, arguably over the last 25 years, the art involved is probably less contentious than it would be by some of today’s work that has grabbed headlines in selective media.

Indeed the other notable change since the original French script by Jasmina Reza first premiered in 1994, was that the price of the painting was repriced in Euros rather than Francs. Something that we might do well to remember in the coming days – there was life in Europe before the Euro (no, I’m not making a political point, merely highlighting a historical one).

Older friends

The play is having a 20 year revival since it reopened in December 2016. The play was first (and last) in London opened in October 1996 and was hugely successful, so much so, that its endurance began to draw comparisons with The Mousetrap (for continued performances). However the run eventually came to an end in 2004, having provided a platform for many actors and comedians, with the cast changing multiple times. I cannot recall quite when I saw the play first, but let’s just say it was some while ago and whilst it has not changed, I certainly have.

A friendship of types

The play is about three friends, whose reaction to an expensive, bare, exposed, white, not quite “blank canvas” painting, that Serge buys, in turn reveals the bare-bones and home truths about their relationships. It is a fascinating, often hilarious, exploration of friendship, class, taste and identity. Everyone probably resonates more with a particular character and at various points in the play, I imagine that its possible to identify those in the audience most like the characters by their reactions at key moments, right from the very first scene. Yet despite the genuine discomfort the audience is taken on a journey to resolution.

How people talk about money

Most relationships have a degree of complexity, but what Reza notices most obviously is the way relationships are altered by money. Had the price of the painting been a few pounds, it is unlikely that the subsequent heated exchanges would have occurred. Whilst clearly we have all have friends for a reason, it is unlikely that a friend is a sensible choice for advice when it comes to matters of money. Impartiality and professionalism of course apply to many aspects of “advice” that we all seek from time to time, but financial advice, is rarely, probably never, best discussed with friends around your table of choice.

Time is short

Art is currently showing at The Old Vic in London, until 18 February 2017; starring Rufus Sewell (Serge), Paul Ritter (Mark) and Tim Key (Yvan).

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

Art and the art of friendship2017-01-27T11:11:14+00:00

The Master Builder

The Master Plan

Perhaps it has something to do with the start of a New Year, or perhaps it is simply a case of my awareness of the ageing process is becoming more pertinent; but there seems to be a lot of “stuff” about ageing and the need for a master plan for life.

Ralph Fiennes is currently starring in Ibsen’s “The Master Builder” at the Old Vic. I managed to see this on Monday night, it was very well performed with Fiennes having a huge amount of dialogue to remember. However… perhaps I’m a philistine, but I simply didn’t get it.

The play, (which I haven’t read) centres on a man (Halvard Solness) who, frankly, has some “issues”. Somewhat of a control freak and ultimately has a bit of a god-complex. In essence he is a possessive man, who believes that by wishing something he makes it come true.

He has risen to “power” (in the days of small-town notoriety) through hard work and “good luck” (and the misfortune of others) despite having no qualifications, simply mastering the skills “on the job”. However, he holds the view that this success has a price, which I guess is Ibsen’s attempt at discussing the price of success. The price, that is paid, seems largely to be fear of the constant younger generation taking what he has.

Get out of the way…

Ultimately, Solness does indeed lose everything to the clamour of the younger generation, but totally through his own unfathomable actions. This involves a rather strange relationship with a young girl, Hilda Wangel, who can only be described as mad or at best delusional. Indeed at one point I wasn’t sure if she wasn’t simply meant to be a figment of his imagination, but as others talk with her, I assume that this isn’t the case.

I’m sure that some freudian references could be made to the relationship that Solness has with Wangel, her assertion of his ability to build towers, her apparent disregard for marriages and his confusion about his signficance, whilst she inspires him to new heights of potency.

A better bit of thoughtful planning?

I suppose the play reveals some lessons about marriage or relationships generally. The rather obvious need to communicate, and in particular not to avoid talking about the really important things (unlike Solness) which perhaps would have laid the foundations for a proper “life plan” to work on together.

Financial planning is essentially doing just that. If it’s done well, it will reflect your values. To date I haven’t discussed whether a successful financial plan has a price, in the sense of some form of karmic balance (a yin to the yang) but clearly any choice has a sense of this to it. Saving means not spending it all. Investing means taking a patient long-term view not than the short-term gain. Unlike Solness, wishful thinking has no part in a good financial plan – and a decent planner will help you remain grounded, not building castles in the sky.

The Master Builder is playing at the Old Vic until 19th March 2016. I’d be interested to hear your take on it! Fiennes is typically brilliant with a strong cast.

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

The Master Builder2017-01-27T11:01:50+00:00

Financial Planning: Right notes, right time?

Solomons-financial-advisor-wimbledon-bloggerRight notes, right time?high-society-movie-poster-1956

Do you want to live the high life? It may seem like a daft question, particularly from a financial planner, but perhaps it is worth pondering a little longer. Most people’s instinctive reaction is to have more, not less. However in Britain we have an uneasy relationship with wealth. On the one hand we often celebrate the underdog and their success, yet quickly turn to mock error and flaw. I’m generalising of course and not speaking for everyone, perhaps anyone…(other than the British media) but I think that there is a phenomena within British media that quickly moves from praise to envy to criticism.

Any assessment of those that have significant fame and fortune will quickly reveal some common threads – feelings of isolation, mistrust and increased anxiety. The greater the wealth, the higher the gates. This isn’t particularly unique to Britain, as the story itself reveals.

We now have a new Government, which about 1 in 3 people voted for. I have clients with a wide range of views and am not about to make the mistake of upsetting anyone (I hope). We live in a democracy, an imperfect one, but a democracy never-the-less. It is tempting to reduce political ideology to a few descriptive words or even a single word. Compassion is one that has been mentioned of late.

High Society – Precise Timinghigh-society-old-vic

So it is timely that an old musical returns to London at The Old Vic – High Society.  You will recall the lead character (Tracy Lord) played in the 1956 film by Grace Kelly, is about to marry a man she doesn’t really love, she lost her true love (Dexter) and previous husband to alcoholism. Now reformed, he returns on the eve of his ex-wife’s marriage and we witness the warm charms, joys and dysfuntion of the Lord family and its desire to protect its own reputation (understandably) from the prying eyes of Mike Connor and Liz Imbrie who are reluctant undercover reporters caught in jobs to earn a living rather than following their passions of writing and photography. One might say that a lack of passion is the missing ingredient that all seek to fill through other means, yet it is a lack of compassion that prevents understanding one another, or indeed self. A sobering thought and one posed to Tracy.

Timed to Perfection?

The revised musical now resides at The Old Vic. Tickets are hard to come by which merely confirms the experience of some memorable melodies from Cole Porter and some very energetic, amazingly precise choreography and direction under the eye of Maria Friedman. The theatre is now in the round and Tom Pye makes quite brilliant use of a very small space with an impressive set. There are some remarkable performances, notably from Barbara Flynn, newcomer Ellie Bamber, Jamie Parker and Annabel Scholey.  It is difficult for anyone to follow roles established by Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby (Rupert Young) and Grace Kelly (Kate Fleetwood) which I imagine is an unenviable task for actors. Watch out too for Joe Stilgoe, clearly a “chip off the old block” in a role that will remind audiences of the great Richard Stilgoe, his father.

Time to Dazzle and Reflect

The show runs until 22nd August and watch out for a couple of dates, when audience are being encouraged to dress up appropriately (wedding attire I assume  – though hats aren’t great in an auditorium). Being “in the round”, this enables some of the audience to be pretty “up close and personal” at the stage edge and whilst you may find yourself singing along to “Who wants to be a Millionaire” and “You’re Sensational” enjoying a thorougly entertaining evening,  perhaps deeper reflections on the trappings of wealth without compassion may begin to stir.

Dominic

Financial Planning: Right notes, right time?2017-01-06T14:39:28+00:00
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