Traitors and behaviours…

Jemima Thomas
Jan 2023  •  5 min read

Traitors and behaviours…

I love binge-watching a TV series and a good murder mystery is my favourite, so naturally it’s no surprise I tuned into the BBC’s latest reality TV series, The Traitors. Two months on, and the show has been streamed more than 28 million times on BBC iPlayer. To say it has been a success is an understatement, and there is now a US version (yes I have also eaten my way through this too!), which has also been a brilliant watch.

The basic ‘plot’ is that 22 strangers are moved into a castle in the Scottish Highlands to complete a series of challenges and missions together as a team, to add to a pot of money that they might win at the end of the game. The game consists of three secretly-assigned ‘traitors’ and the rest being ‘faithfuls’.  The goal of the game is for the faithfuls to collectively reach the final, where they’ll be able to split the winnings. However, if a traitor (or traitors) manage to reach the final, they get to take the pot of money for themselves. Throughout the game, the three traitors are secretly lurking, sabotaging the efforts of the others and picking off contestants one by one. Each evening, contestants gather around a table to ‘banish’ someone they suspect of treachery.  It’s the ultimate game of detection, backstabbing and trust, the faithfuls must root out the traitors amongst their ranks to win; or risk losing everything.

On paper I’m not sure this sounds quite as thrilling as it was to watch play out, but I can assure you (if you haven’t already watched) that it’s incredibly gripping and shocking to see the lengths to which people will go to defend themselves under pressure. With everyone feeling confused, sketchy (or not!) behaviours become magnified and analysed, and emotions quickly run high as the days pass.  It’s safe to say that they all seem to become a little mad as a result of not knowing who to trust. Morals are thrown all over the place, and each person quickly becomes defensive (and sometimes aggressive) in order to convince other team members that they are in fact a faithful.

I’m very aware that trust and money are two of the most important aspects of financial planning.  You have to trust that although the stock market will dip, it will inevitably rise again (albeit very slowly at times), you have to trust that your money is in the safest hands, and that your long term goals will be possible.  Our behaviour around how we manage our feelings on this is vital.

This brings me to the book I was reading a few months back, Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel. It’s a brilliant easy read on how money isn’t necessarily ‘what you know’, but ‘how you behave’.  Housel says “behaviour is hard to teach, even to really smart people”. He shares a number of short stories exploring the strange ways people think about money, and how people tend to make financial decisions as a result of their background, marketing, and intuitive knee-jerk decisions.

We have a few copies of Morgan’s book available, so do contact us if you would like to receive a copy and we will send one out to you. I highly recommend watching Traitors (and the US version if you enjoy the UK one!) and to set some time aside to read Morgan’s book if you can.

Traitors and behaviours…2023-12-01T12:12:38+00:00

Money is not a peace of mind, it’s a choice

Jemima Thomas
May 2022  •  5 min read

Money is not peace of mind, it’s a choice

If you are looking for a gritty (anxiety inducing) series to binge, then Ozark on Netflix is for you. The series is about a financial adviser who drags his family from Chicago to the Missouri Ozarks, where he must launder money to appease a drug boss. So basically it’s a show about Solomon’s! (Please note this is very clearly a joke and we are not affiliated to this fictional TV series).

I was very pleased to see how many hits (yes, I stalk this on the regular) my first blog post ‘Slow and Steady’ got a few months ago, and I’m hoping that my youthful (and often under-represented) perspective will be mildly interesting to read again …

Amusing to some I’m sure, but I’ve always used the backdrop of art mediums such as film and TV to understand more about life, and there are a huge amount of personal parallels that resonated with me whilst watching Ozark. For one, the show is filled with financial lessons and quotes that have stuck with me. One of my favourites comes from lead character Marty: “Patience. Frugality. Sacrifice. When you boil it down, what do those three things have in common? Those are choices. Money is not peace of mind. Money is, at its essence that measure of a man’s choices.” For me this completely encompasses why we do what we do here at Solomon’s, and why great financial planning is so important.

Finding a good financial planner is a choice. And I truly believe it’s one of the best and often life-changing decisions you can make. Aside from the obvious differences of what Solomon’s does and what character Marty does (we aren’t laundering money, killing people, or secretly working for drug lords), we are however helping our clients invest their money wisely, something that I have begun to do myself. Perhaps I’m avidly searching for advice more often now both in ‘life’ and when it comes to my own finances, but I am acutely aware of the importance of having a financial plan.

Life isn’t always straightforward and is constantly changing, but some financial lessons are staple and vital in the long-run. Much like what happens to Marty and his family throughout each season, they are constantly having to adapt under severe life or death scenarios, and it’s eye-opening to see (although fictional) what people choose to do to save themselves financially.

Choices are also wrapped up in mistakes – mistakes are wrapped up in choices

Advice isn’t something I take lightly. I used to despise unwarranted advice, especially in my teenage years where I probably had a chip on my shoulder and felt most lost. But as I’m getting older, it’s something I welcome with open arms, and usually ask for. Other people’s mistakes often teach the biggest life lessons, and an open mind allows the space for us to learn from one another.

I get to read and listen to clients’ stories regularly as part of my work on Spotlight (our client magazine), and we often ask ‘’If you could go back and give your 20-year old self advice, what would it be?” and the responses are always helpful and interesting. When people feel comfortable and safe enough to talk about their financial mistakes (or any mistake for that matter), I am reminded that every day is a school day.

Money is not a peace of mind, it’s a choice2023-12-01T12:12:50+00:00

Compare your life

I wonder if you have seen any of the new series on Channel 4 called “Compare Your Life”. In essence its a show where a couple would like to change their lives and using a series of questions determine the options for a significant life change. I have only seen one episode, so my observation may be rather narrow. The adviser to each couple is Carlton Hood, who used to be head of and now marketing himself as a guru of choice elimination.

The show is useful in that the subjects get to see “real-life” options. In other words, moving to France and setting up a small town business – means going to France, selecting a small town and considering the businesses for sale. The “clients” are asked to focus on what they say they value.

My main concern is that whilst this choice reduction exercise has a place, to run a business (which is effectively what is being offered) you need a broad skill set or an awareness of the skills required so that these can be outsourced and secured. Running a business is not easy, most fail within the first 3 years. It can offer a different lifestyle, but not necessarily a better one. I have reservations about precisely how the list of choices was reduced, which seemed rather random. To make a business work, a high degree of commitment and passion are required, picking an “off-the-shelf” option doesn’t really engender either.

The episode I watched (2) involved an employed couple in their mid-forties, seeking to spend more time with their children. The end solution selected from those proposed involved both of them quitting their jobs, moving location to a smaller house, running a post office/village shop whilst increasing their borrowing considerably. This may work out very well for them, but running a retail business requires staffing most days of the week, most hours of the week. The mere fact that the business is physically part of the home, can be helpful, but of course the reality is that they would technically always be at work. The smaller living space also posed problems for growing children and the yet to come teenage years.

So whilst the premise of considering what life options you have is very valid, the argument that emotion can be removed from choice is a peculiar one, given that most of the choices exercised were based upon emotion (time with children). I also found it odd that this was really a programme about choosing a new lifestyle, without really defining what the lifestyle was and how much it would really cost. To my mind, this was not a scientific approach at all, but a guestimated hope that the short list was indeed suitable. Yes choice can be overwhelming, but failing to properly identify the lifestyle you want is the biggest and most common mistake. This is precisely what good financial planning should achieve.

Dominic Thomas – Solomons IFA

Compare your life2023-12-01T12:23:43+00:00
Go to Top