THE STARRY MESSENGER

TODAY’S BLOG

THE STARRY MESSENGER

I was working with clients the other day and they noticed one of the icons in the software I was using with them. It was marked as “midlife crisis” and the icon was a sports car. They thought the IT company could do rather better with its icons (no I had not used it in their plan). However perhaps the sports car isn’t that bad an icon – a cliché admittedly. Perhaps I should suggest that they use a star now that a new play (well new to the West End) “The Starry Messenger” is running at Wyndham’s theatre.

The play explores the now recognised normality of a mid-life crisis. 50 something male falls for vivacious female, some 20 years his junior. Like him, she has baggage though I struggled to see how it even vaguely matched. Mark Williams is a teacher at the New York planetarium teaching evening classes of adult education. He loves his subject, but his va-va-voom has long since departed, his career has been side-lined to the extent that he clings to the hope of even a data entry job so that he can at least be associated with a worthy project. He laments that others are simply better at what he does than he himself. He is un-inspiring. He meets Angela, a hard-working single mother, training to be a nurse. Her genuine kindness somehow enables a relationship to develop.

THE STARRY MESENGER - SOLOMONS IFA BLOG

Ordinary Pain

There is something terribly ordinary about the play. By that I mean the ordinariness of real people living a real life. Many of us, have occasion to contend with huge disappointment and trauma. This is the bread and butter, or perhaps blood and tears of author Kenneth Lonergan. You have probably seen or lives a version of this story. The question remains whether Mark and Anne Williams will be able to face and overcome the chasm of a void in their relationship.

Extra-ordinary Plan

As someone that partakes in the new permitted addictions of social media, within my own field I regularly come across claims that lives are changed by a great financial plan. Part of me wants to agree with this, but another part also would wish to make the point that stuff happens, or as John Lennon put it “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. We can plan sensibly, even brilliantly, but sometimes life throws up a problem or two. A financial planner can help make allowance for job loss, serious illness, long-term illness, business collapse or even death itself, but all these assume relationships last. Sometimes they don’t. I would urge caution, however detailed, however much room for error has been made, life is not as predictable as we may think. That does not negate the value of a good plan (or a brilliant one) I am simply making the point that we don’t know the future and some people talk as though they do. Beware.

As for Mark, Anne and Angela – you can see their story develop at Wyndham’s. Mark is played by Matthew Broderick, most famous for his role as Ferris Bueller (1986). A casting that seems entirely appropriate, how would 50-something Ferris face the day? I wonder if he would repeat “You’re not dying, you just can’t think of anything good to do”. Elizabeth McGovern (Downton) plays Anne and rising star Rosalind Eleazar plays the luminous Angela.

The play has begun a 3-month run. You can find tickets here. Here is a short video of the cast members discussing the play and the trailer.

Cast Discussion

Trailer

How will your story play out? Get in touch to consider your options.

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

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THE STARRY MESSENGER2019-05-23T10:44:24+01:00

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

INVESTORS NEED A POSITIVE OUTLOOK

TODAY’S BLOG

INVESTORS NEED A POSITIVE OUTLOOK

It may sound rather churlish, but it is true that investors need a positive outlook. There is little or no point at all investing if you believe that everything is getting worse. This is a feeling that becomes familiar with age, everything often seems to be getting worse, primarily because we are fed a diet of fairly dreary news stories and have a growing awareness of our inability to simply change the world or certain people.

Whilst I would not want you to think that everything is good or “fine” life is certainly much better for the most people on earth than it was say 100 years ago. The planet has a population north of 7 billion people and roughly 6 billion of them are, on global terms “doing ok” or better than “ok”. There are extremes of poverty and wealth of course, but there are a lot of people between those extremities. May I encourage you to have a look at gapminder.com for more detail about this

SOLOMONS IFA BLOG fiddler-on-the-roof-poster

Things are improving, but they could be better

Investors need a positive outlook, precisely because you are investing in the future, in that future, improvements will be made to the standard of living and innovations to improve our lives. Yes there are obvious problems that need addressing – fosil fuels, climate change, plastic in the oceans, but these and many other problems are solved by innovation. Innovation leads to patenting good ideas. Patent applications are in one sense evidence of good ideas that then require finance – capital…your investment.

Fiddler on the Roof

The musical “Fiddler on the Roof” has returned to the West End of London. Most of us know it from the 1971 film starring Topol and perhaps the most familiar song “If I were a rich man”. It is set in 1905, a touch over 110 years ago.  Tevye the milkman with his wife Golde and their five daughters live in Anatevka, Russia. The Jewish community coexist with the locals, but it is evident that this is a fragile relationship. They have the richness of a community and its rich traditions, yet life is evidently a struggle for them all.

It is interesting to compare what in 2019 someone in poverty might consider to be the trappings of wealth and what money could afford them to do, be and have. As for Tevye, his dream is of a house with 3 staircases (one going nowhere just for show), a wooden floor, to have some servants and not need to work. He would be respected and afforded time for spiritual reflection. By our standards today, Tevye has very little, in just over 100 years the standard of living for the typical milkman has risen considerably. We forget how much improvement has been made simply because we caught up by the present and trying to keep up with the future. We forget all the time. Investors capitalise on the momentum of human endeavour and a continual improvement in all things, many of which we do not yet even know we want.

Fiddler on the Roof is showing at The Playhouse, right next to embankment tube. Here is information – book an aisle seat if you are taller than 5’8” the legroom is poor, but the show is magnificent. See The Playhouse 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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INVESTORS NEED A POSITIVE OUTLOOK2019-04-15T19:19:32+01:00

Bare Foot Obsession

Bare Foot Obsession

There’s something terribly predictable about the new show to arrive at The Barbican. Obsession, staring Jude Law and Halina Reijn is the very familiar tale of old man, young wife, cuckolded by a visiting younger man. A storyline so old that even Chaucer may have asked “ Whyts newe?”… as it turns out, very little… even a few clumsy lines about being a beneficiary of the life assurance policy (for an unimpressive £50,000).

Once again audiences are treated to a minimalist set, which at The Barbican, feels like an empty expanse – which merely serves to underline the empty script. One can only assume that the bowling lane size TV screen that rises in the final sequence, must have consumed the entire budget. The Director, Ivo Van Hove seems somewhat obsessed with actors running barefoot across the stage and when not bare-footed, bare-chested which is not as radical as I suspect he believes. In truth, no amount of talented acting could really rescue this production, which feels and looks pretentious, carrying the gravitas of a sixth form script.

Coupling and Fracture

Whilst I’m not a relationship counselor, clearly most, if not all, relationships have periods of difficulty. Many, perhaps most, find a pathway through trouble, some do not. There are lots of assumptions made in financial planning, but making assumptions about current relationships over the next thirty years or so, clearly is problematic. That’s why it is important to express your values, not simply your goals for your life. Understanding, or at least, being aware of the differences in attitudes towards money, how its handled and what its for is fairly fundamental for most couples. Yet economic power, or the lack of it can wreck or enhance a relationship, depending on who you really are. A reality displayed regularly within various “media” who pick over the disintegration of any “celebrity” relationship.

So a decent financial plan will touch (carefully) on these issues, a really good one will help a couple to face areas of “non-alignment” and furnish them with thoughtful options. In drama, a bad script can sometimes be salvaged by good actors or direction, but not always. When it comes to financial planning, you write your own script and having an impartial observer can make all the difference to a worthwhile story.

The Car Man

As for “Obsession” it didn’t leave much of an impression. The dramatic tension left almost as soon as it arrived. If you wish to see a much better retelling of this story, without a script, I can thoroughly recommend the ballet, The Car Man by Matthew Bourne… a guy that knows a thing or two about storytelling without using words.

and here is the trailer for the play…

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

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Bare Foot Obsession2017-05-03T21:13:49+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

New Term, New Start

New Term, New Start?

So its September. A new term is about to start (it has already in Scotland). As someone with children much of my life has been demarked by the term timetable, this year its a little different… my eldest daughter begins her career as a teacher…. wow, where did the time go?

Time Flies

I’m reminded of a new play “Everyman” which I was lucky enough to catch it at the weekend – in fact the penultimate performance. The ensemble cast is headed by Chiwetel Ejiofor in the title role (you may have seen him in “Twelve Years A Slave” for which he was short-listed for an Oscar). The play confronts the familiar big existential questions in a contemporary and provocative way. Everyman’s journey is brief, confronting his values and their eternal significance. At his 40th birthday party he is forced to confront the question – Where did the time go?

There are some memorable scenes – with friends, family, discarded refuse (his and ours) and the checkout of consumer validation – the shopping store. The 2009 Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy pieces together some innovative rhyme, providing a 2015 upgrade to an otherwise familiar tale…. of God, the Devil and everyman…. and reposes the riddled question “have you lived a good life?”.

The stage is itself an almost ghostly reminder of morality plays of old, (stage with pit). Sadly the play is also out of time at the National Theatre, but those that saw it will be haunted by Death’s final call… eeny, meeny, miney.. mo… and the thought that invariably we only confront the value of life in death.

A plan that reflects your values

Whatever your thoughts about the meaning of life, a life well lived will mean different things to each. In an age of 24 hour “news” and the appearance of a shrinking world, we are regularly confronted with the hardship that others endure or suffer, whether on our doorstep or someone else’s. Invariably I find myself wrestling with the guilt of advantages that I have compared to many.

We live in an imperfect world and I have yet to write anything other than an imperfect financial plan. However I firmly believe that the effort made to ensure that your financial plan is based upon your values is more than “a nice thing” to my mind it is of significant importance – helping us come to terms with both our luck and our lack.

So may this term, or new academic year be time well spent…. and full of good performances! (let me know of those you enjoy).

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

New Term, New Start2017-01-27T11:08:23+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

Money and Power

Solomons-financial-advisor-wimbledon-blogger

Money and Power

Perhaps my age is showing, but it is only day 6 of the new year and I am already fed up with the election campaign. I ought to be celebrating our democracy and the opportunity to hear reasoned arguments, however inevitably we seem stuck in a cycle of who will tax or cut most, the prospect of genuine change and improvement for all seems rather unlikely with the inevitable tension around money and power. Here Lies Love NT

In a more reflective moment, I remind myself that this is not a dictatorship and we at least get to vote and I don’t really think we are at the mercy of a despot who has anger issues and a twitching finger poised over an end-all button. This isn’t the case for millions of “voters” around the world who are marched off to vote for egomaniacs. This in mind, a relatively new musical to arrive via New York at the National Theatre “Here Lies Love” is based on a 2010 concept album of the same name, which gives musicals a nightclub injection. If you think that a nightclub is exclusively for the “young” perhaps think agains as, the creators Fatboy Slim (Norman Cook) is 51 and David Byrne is 62. The production has the flavour of community theatre, with the execution of high-end night club. A moving stage and audience, all combine to great effect and an entertaining, immersive experience.

Imelda Marcos

This is the story of Imelda Marcos, her rise and fall from power. Byrne and Cook wanted to explore what makes powerful people behave the way they do. I’m not so sure that this was explored terribly well, whilst displaying a delusional, drugged up Imelda, she isn’t portrayed that badly – a little bit too vanilla in Manilla – little about her excessive flamboyancy and penchant for hundreds of shoes. The story is chronological, revealing the fragility of her marriage, her inability to cope with her rags to riches story and a familar narcissism of Heads of State that seem to believe that they “give their all to their people”.

The Price of Democracy

There was little in the musical that gave me reason to believe such behaviour was understood or how to spot it in others and take precautionary action…so no tips for our elections. The world seems to have done little during the period of martial law and  assassination of the opposition including the shooting of Benigno Aquino on the steps of his ill-advised return flight to Manilla on 21 August 1983 (age 50) which you may remember. In the Philippines, the Marcos regime was eventually cast out by a peaceful protest, following a corrupt election (February 1986) against Aquino’s widow following which the public simply decided enough was enough. Marcos and his family took US advice and support then fled to Hawaii along with 24 suitcases of gold bullion and jewellery. Sadly for Imelda this took precedent over her 2,700 pairs of shoes. It is estimated that Marcos stole over $10billion from the country, much was invested into various family related businesses and Swiss accounts. The Swiss have so far returned about $684 million. So for me, this musical, whilst being entertaining does little to understand how and why power corrupts so absolutely. Indeed one might argue that the catchy tunes, flashing lights distract from the real story… but then, perhaps that’s the point.

Dominic Thomas

Money and Power2017-01-06T14:39:31+00:00

Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

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Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

A timely new (2010) musical “Scottsboro Boys” has returned to London, currently playing at The Garrick off Leicester Square. It is the story of 9 black men… well youths really, aged 13-19. Who were in the wrong place (Alabama) at the wrong time (25 March 1931). You may know the story, which is also reminiscent of the Harper Lee novel “To Kill a Mocking Bird”.  I didn’t know this particular story, but sadly it is all too familiar… a lynching and swift carriage of gross injustice. It is a depressing tale about stupidity, bigotry and racism in a world that one would hope was consigned to history, but is clearly alive and fuelled by the same misplaced and misinformed fears.

As you might imagine, its a provocative piece, which has some interesting ideas. TScottsboro Boyshe juxtaposition of black men playing white men (and women) in a parody of Minstrel Shows, further revealing how misguided and disrespectful such things were/are and culminating in a particularly disturbing “blacked up” segment. The creators draw on ideas from Cabaret and Chicago, using song and dance harmonies to hide but reveal the discord. A criticism I would have is that the show isn’t very energetic, rather “sedate” but then perhaps this is quite deliberate, given the restrictions of prison and a hot box… and the final scene of powerful protest.

The Truth Will Set You Free

This is not a hopeful story, in fact it wasn’t until 2013 that the Governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley signed the Scottsboro Boys Act, which exonerated all nine of them. Today America, the “land of the free” is still a tinderbox with unresolved racial issues and it is little wonder that so many are concerned about what seems to be systemic racism, where it would still appear that white lives are worth more than black lives. Whilst it is now nearly 84 years since the original incident, I am left to reflect on a phrase that I use daily – tempus fugit. Time flies… well, whilst it certainly seems to, I guess in practice, it will be a matter of perspective. Whilst I enjoy freedom, without too much genuine concern that it could be curtailed, for those that live with daily prejudice and injustice, I doubt that time moves quickly at all… and if the current state of global politics is anything to measure, it would seem that attitudes certainly do not change quickly. A lifetime of injustice must make time “feel” rather different. A museum, which often acts like a time travelling device, is a reminder of the past, to their credit Alabama have opened a museum to this history. The hope that I take from this is that it takes a brave community to be honest about its past…as it does for us all. Truth is something that I uphold as a virtue and something I bring to my work with clients, but perhaps the greater truth is that truth sometimes takes a very long time to be exposed, sometimes too long is far too late and may not, in fact set you free.

Scottsboro Boys runs until 21 February 2015 at The Garrick, London.

Dominic Thomas

Wrong Place at the Wrong Time2017-01-06T14:39:32+00:00

How is your fake detector?

Solomons-financial-advisor-wimbledon-bloggerHow is your fake detector?

Sadly there are many investment “opportunities” that are most definitely not in your best interests. Unfortunately these are not always easy to spot and it is important to have a good “fake detector” which is a polite way of putting things. Often, though not exclusively there will be a variety of investments that dress themselves up as one thing, when they are quite another. I don’t know the detail of the Icebreaker tax scandal involving members of Take That, but I suspect that they didn’t know what they were getting into… but someone did.

Too good to be true?

Invariably the sort of financial products that are prone to the excesses of the worst sort of marketing, are those that are fairly “exotic”. These often include Enterprise Investment Schemes, Venture Capital Trusts, Film Partnerships and Unregulated Collective Investment Schemes. That is not to suggest for a moment that all of these products are “duff” but clearly they need to be researched very carefully indeed.

Lessons from Bakersfield MistBakersfield Mist

Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Blink” which has received widespread coverage suggests that experts instinctively know when something is off. So it was with interest that I was at the very cosy Duchess Theatre last night to see Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid in Bakersfield Mist, which is currently still in previews. This is a Stephen Sachs story about authenticity and centres around determining whether a painting is a real Jackson Pollock or a fake, a mere $100m at stake. It is marvellously performed by two great actors and directed by Polly Teale. The set design by Tom Piper itself breathes authenticity. Many will have seen both actors in various films, I was lucky enough to see Ian McDiarmid many years ago in Bath, at my first Shakespeare live performance. Kathleen Turner returns to London following her highly acclaimed performance in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” You will be hard pressed to find two more authentic performances which are scheduled to run until 30th August and I would rate this highly.

As in the play, one of the questions posed is being clear about motives. When assessing investments, the main motivation for an investor is whether or not the investment being proposed is likely to assist you in achieving your goals. The investment itself may have different objectives, perhaps creating a gain for the investment management team and not the investor, this is where impartial advice is crucial, but of course you need to ensure that your adviser’s motives are aligned with yours, by having one that you trust, not to mention the relevant expertise. So how is your fake detector?

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

How is your fake detector?2017-01-06T14:39:37+00:00
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