Great Rivals

Great Rivals

Perhaps you watched the men’s Australians Open final, which saw Roger Federer eventually overcome Rafa Nadal. The speech at the end by Roger Federer was typical of him, but many that don’t follow tennis might wonder if he wasn’t simply saying some well-rehearsed lines, which sound very nice but aren’t really true. Those who do follow tennis, will recognise that it seems to have an unusually generous, gracious and humble group of people at the top of their game. Respect is not something demanded, as it is in some sports, but modelled.

What if businesses took a similar approach?

Let us not forget that this is a highly competitive sport, a battle of skill, stamina and psychology and the momentum flows back and forth like the ball itself. Imagine if this sort of respect was found in business, if competition was performed with grace. If being “the best” didn’t mean others were annihilated in the process. An awareness that being “the best” only lasts so long, whilst you are good enough to be better than, rather than because you once were. I wonder how this sort of approach might alter the way companies behave. It might change the way they invested in their staff, sector or community rather than simply focus on the quickest and cheapest way to get what they want.

… and how about the Public Sector?

I had thought that the non-business sector might be different. Schools might collaborate rather more than they do, but in practice Head Teachers are invariably under pressure of targets. Achieve results, retain pupils and so on, which might be in the interests of the pupil, but might not. The targets incentivise certain types of behaviour and as usual, you get what you measure. What therefore requires challenging is the targets being set, which within the Public Sector are set by Governments. I appreciate that many within the Public Sector may well collaborate, but this is rarely incentivised or encouraged.

Rise above the noise

Similarly, when it comes to your own financial planning, the targets that you set, should be yours, not those set for you by others. The fact that your favourite radio or TV station feels the need to report the level of the FTSE100 every half-an-hour is beyond my comprehension. It is irrelevant information to anyone other than a financial trader – who already has it! So, when you play your game best, you don’t have to beat the market, you don’t have to beat other people. Your financial plan “simply” needs to align with your values and then make use of the most suitable financial planning techniques. The difference is fundamental and fundamentally about confidence …and some good humour.

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

Great Rivals2017-01-30T16:08:03+00:00

Financial Planning in a Box

Financial Planning in a Box

It is easy to believe that the world is an unsafe place, full of people determined to do us harm or ill. We all know about the continuing extremism and acts of terror, but are increasingly aware that the answers provided by world leaders seem misguided at “best” and “just as bad” at worst. Politics is one way we tend to divide ourselves into camps of allegiance, yet this is simply one of many ways to put each other into a box, indeed perhaps your understanding of financial planning is in a box – or a certain type of box. Perhaps we could remember more about what we share alike than what differentiates us.

Tick Box Approach

Marketing is perhaps the ultimate tool for putting us all into a specific box and if this is done to identify who might benefit from a product or service, then there’s nothing that I can see that’s wrong with it. We might exclude ourselves or be excluded for good reason, the problems come when we are excluded without any valid reason. It ought to be win-win if I am excluded from the mailing list of skydiving weekly – I have no interest in skydiving and cannot believe that this would change. Those marketing skydiving courses or related products are not wasting their resources attempting to offer me great deals. That’s a win-win as far as I can tell.

Outside the Box… or how about a different box?

So, I was challenged and encouraged by a TV advert “All That We Share” from Denmark (and no I’m not on their mailing list either!). A friend shared it and it is a great reminder that the boxes we put each other in can vary enormously, yet the media (not all) and politicians (not all) seem intent on placing us into more limited, confrontational boxes. Its title might have a message for those of us that use social media too – what we share, how and to whom. Anyway, have a look for yourself.

The financial planning angle…

What has this to do with financial planning? Well very little – except to say that your financial plan should be about your life, your values and your future, not the things you think advisers want to hear (a yacht, fast car, enormous house and huge portfolio). These might have a place in your financial plan, but until we meet to discuss it, I’d rather assume nothing and wait to hear your story.

The right fit

So, when it comes to our own marketing, we are looking for people that we can help. That means – helping to improve, organise and structure what you have better, so that it works for you, saving you time, reducing anxiety and bringing about a sense of “peace of mind”. Obviously, we need paying, which means you need to have resources to do so, but its more than that – it’s also for people that are looking for a long-term professional relationship from which we can work on your plan together.

Anyhow, here is the video.

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

Financial Planning in a Box2017-01-30T13:19:14+00:00

Delicious

Delicious

I wonder if you have seen a new Sky 4-part mini series starring Dawn French, Emilia Fox and Iain Glen called “Delicious”. I don’t think I’m giving too much away by saying that it is the story of an apparently successful, once divorced remarried chef, who has an affair with his first wife, who it turns out is the real culinary genius.

Like most good stories, the drama of ordinary lives holds our attention when under the scrutiny of dramatic pressures. The series exposes the problems beneath a beautiful façade of a middle-class life. Set on the idyllic banks of the Tamar river, an entrepreneurial temple of hotelier cuisine is the bling that diverts the eye from seeing what needs to be seen.

Just below the surface

There is an understandable and customary dig at middle-aged men but with a twist on the usual, predictable affair with a younger model, with Leo attempting to have his cake and eat it. A setting of fine dining, lends itself to the customary style over substance debate and of course the market price of every thing.

Wood for the trees

From a financial planning point of view there are numerous warnings that I would hope business owners can heed. One of the problems that business owners, or indeed anyone has, is that they are often too close to the problems to be able to see them clearly, let alone any workable solutions. It is certainly hard to fathom how any decent financial planner could not draw attention to what is revealed within the plot (which I shall not spoil).

Virtually reality?

One of the most popular criticisms of social medial is that it has encouraged us to live false lives, like those contained within magazines, or indeed within television or film. Whilst I’m sure this has some truth and resonance, this all rather depends upon each of our ability to be truthful, yet mindful of impact, timing and social etiquette.  There is nothing new about attempting to be something you are not, which is perhaps one of the oldest dramatic tools.

The truth can be painful

Of course, not everyone wants to see or hear the truth, particularly when it is going to require some change. I sometimes wonder if this is what puts most of population off from seeking financial advice. Deep down most of us know that we need to master our money lest it master us. A financial plan is designed based around your values, grounded in truth and enables you to see ahead to any potential “surprises”. In essence making sure your plans for style have substance.

Here’s the trailer for the series on Sky.

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

Delicious2017-01-27T11:11:25+00:00

The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle

I wonder if you have heard of or seen the Amazon series “The Man in the High Castle”. The story revolves around the suggestion that WWII had a very different outcome, with Hitler and the Japanese triumphant. The world that exists, which of course centres around north America, sees present day USA divided into two between the Reich and the Japanese empire, with a slither of a neutral zone.

It seems that the reality in which our main characters are found has the potential for some almost supernatural change through film, in which our “real” version of history is an escape from the present reality. I suppose rather like a nightmare in reverse.

What if?….

The second series has concluded and so far I have been reminded that the story is essentially asking the question “What if?” In this case it’s a horrendous present reality.  Of course, seeking a financial planning angle, this reminded me of the “what if?” scenarios that I create for clients. Financial planning is essentially taking current information and extrapolating it forwards into the future, we can consider the impact of a multitude of different possibilities. These range from the more obvious, such as paying off your mortgage earlier, or making allowance for care costs, to selling a business, receiving a lump sum or heaven forbid an enormous financial crash.

Take a look at the future

Cashflow modeling, used by financial planners like me, is not the future, it is a single version of the future. We take care to make clear that this is most definitely not “the future” but a version of it. You have the opportunity to take a look and alter the reality by either changing your plans or by changing your actions today.

Much like “The Man in the High Castle” we have the opportunity to alter the future by our actions in the present.  Naturally, you will need a sense of what future you wish to have. As the series suggests, there are some people that have some fairly terrifying versions of the future that few of us would count as anything by a nightmare. Of course, with the new US President due to take office tomorrow, who knows what the future may bring….

Here’s a trailer for the Amazon series.

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 Man in the High Castle2017-01-27T11:11:36+00:00

Black Mirror – Nosedive

Black Mirror – Nosedive

The new series of Black Mirror has been released (21 October 2016) on Netflix and is a bit of a cross between Tales of the Unexpected and The Twilight Zone…. Remember them? If you do, then there is a fair chance that you will have had more than your fair share of adopting new technology over the years and Black Mirror is a small leap of the imagination into a future that is almost within our reach.

Nosedive, the first episode of the new series from the writer Charlie Brooker provides plenty of food for thought for those of us that use social media. Irrespective of who you are, there is something very satisfying about having a post or tweet “liked” or “retweeted” – a sense that you are being heard. Of course for small and large business, your social media marketing strategy is all about trying to engage people, both prospective clients and existing ones. This blog is no different.

Brooker draws out attention to the insatiable underlying desire for approval that underpins this and reflects a future society (not very much in the future) where “service with a smile” and the constant demand for ratings and feedback result in desperate collective anxiety and need to fake it in order to gain approval. Not only approval, but the point-scoring system acts as the new form of societal sorting and classification of us all.

image of Lacie, the lead character practicing her smile, current score 4.243image of Lacie, the lead character practicing her smile, current score 4.243image of Lacie, the lead character practicing her smile, current score 4.243

Are you getting feedback?

I thoroughly enjoyed his take on this rather dystopian future, of a world addicted to handsets and a numbing or removing of real experiences and interactions. I’m sure that if you shop online, you now get a request for some feedback. As with many things this was intended to be for our good – a chance to engage and improve services, yet it has become so widespread it now simply feels needy, like some spoiled child constantly asking for approval.

Here at Solomons are guilty of this too. We ask for feedback and comments – and for you to share posts, tweets and so on. This is now all part of helping spread the word about the business and how we help clients, how we bring value. That said, it can become very irritating (hence we try to limit our “neediness”).

Rage against the machine

I guess this reflects the changing nature of relationships between us all and the organisations that we use. Seeing people rant online, whether about Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, Southern Rail or Brexit is at least raw and exposing, of course great care needs to be taken, but in Nosedive, we are faced with a “sanitized” society where genuine emotion, thought or comment is parked firmly out of sight, to the point where who you are seen to be and with are more important than who you are.

At least here in 2016 we continue to help our clients verbalise and express their true values, not simply those that are deemed “acceptable”. Its funny how often I ask people when they plan to retire and they invariably say 65 – which used to be the default State pension age, as though this is an appropriate “date”. The truth is that you can “retire” whenever you want – or not at all and why here at Solomons we prefer to use the term financial freedom day – when you choose to work, not because you have to, but because you want to.

Here’s a bit about Nosedive.

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

Black Mirror – Nosedive2017-01-27T11:12:38+00:00
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