Are you living in La La Land?

Are you living in La La Land?

So the BFI London Film Festival is here again – celebrating its 60th yet retaining a considerable fresh approach to film which this year even includes a very good temporary cinema in Embankment Gardens… thankfully it is an indoor cinema!

La La Land is the latest film from Damien Chazelle (who Directed “Whiplash”) it’s a charming love letter to Hollywood. With all the ranting and sheer stupidity displayed in American politics (we aren’t much better) it is worth remembering what the US does best – storytelling and entertainment. Of course there are many, many things that are done incredibly well in the US, but these, to my mind stand out.

Dreams and Tension

This latest film is a musical about how difficult it can be to hold onto your dreams, particularly when so many others appear to share the same dream and perhaps have an advantage or two. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have a fantastic chemistry and remind us that despite appearing similar, timing is everything and holding the tension of a relationship and a single-minded focus on your dream can be a lonely and exclusive experience (as also explored in Whiplash).

movie poster, piano keys for La La Land

Lifestyles and styled lives

In years gone by, financial advisers were much more obviously” selling dreams”, in fact I might suggest that many were simply selling fantasies. Providing descriptions of a future version of you – helping you to imagine yourself in that yacht, with that house, driving that car… essentially marketing a lifestyle to you to consume. Today things have changed. Today a financial planner is not there to prescribe, but to help digest, encourage and help verbalise what it is that you truly want so that a plan can be crafted to help you achieve it. Sometimes significant behaviours need to change in order to have the future that you want, but in truth this is fairly rare. However, it is worth pointing out that getting a couple to think about their future does on occasion mean reflecting on whether they want one together.

Baggage that matches…

The truth can be rather difficult to swallow, sometimes uncovering aspects of a relationship that are difficult (how we handle money, why and what for). It should be obvious that a financial planner, is not a marriage counsellor, yet on occasion the conversation can lead in a direction for which a financial planner has no training at all, merely life experience. How a couple talk about money, but more importantly their goals for the future is not always easy to manage. We all bring the baggage of our experiences, values and expectations, some will be helpful, but some will not. How your own parents handled money is often just below the surface, there can often be an echo of the past in the present relationship and this can form a significant element of “how things are done” today. Let us not forget that Relate cite finances as one of the most stress-inducing aspects of a relationship, so many will simply ignore the problem hoping it will eventually go away…

And all that Jazz…

As in the movie, (which is a real homage to Hollywood musicals, the place and jazz) whilst there is a very valuable element of recognising and preserving the originals, those were ground-breaking and new, so to simply maintain is to fail to understand a key dynamic. We all need to forge our own path, which may be informed by the past but not governed by it. The difficulty is figuring out the path you want to take and whether it is one you both want… which brings its natural challenges and given voice in the romantic melancholic song “City of Stars” which you may be whistling or humming to yourself by the end.

So, having a clear and shared focus about your future is, well… vital for your financial plan to be successful. The struggle will be to confront some truths about how in-sync you are and what you’d like to do to restore your rhythm. I won’t pretend that this is easy, but the secret to any great performance is the ability to rise from the knocks, learning, practising until it appears to be easy, but “effortless” it never is…. that’s for those that really are living in “la la land”.

Your challenge is to pick up the phone or send me an email to book a time to have the honest conversation about what you really want your future to look like. No matter how  polished the final result, there is plenty of work ahead. I didn’t say that honesy is always easy to deliver or to hear.

Here’s the trailer for the new film .

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

Are you living in La La Land?2023-12-01T12:19:05+00:00

What makes some great?


What Makes Some Great?

What makes some great? genius? or at least excellent? What is it that makes some people memorable or even iconic within our culture? There are a spate of films* that seek to pose this question and one that I saw last night was “Whiplash“. This explores the notion of what contributes to genius and why most of us aren’t. The premise is of Andrew Nieman (Miles Teller) a highly talented jazz drummer who studies at the Shaffer Conservatory, one of the world’s top music schools (don’t most academic institutions make similar claims?) whether it is or isnt is part of the story that we tell ourselves about our place in the world, deserved or otherwise. He is ambitious and highly dedicated to becoming the best, though it isnt always clear if this is meant to be his best or “simply” one of the greats. Whiplash

He and his mentor/teacher/bully both live with the hope and belief that genius or greatness is sparked into being by being “challenged” beyond the norms of what others think is a “good job”. Indeed the mentor Terrance Fletcher, (played by J K Simmons) says that these are the two most harmful words in the English language. It would certainly seem anecdotally true to say that adversity can lead people to find strength, stamina, courage and perhaps greatness, however is it a requirement?

The film holds few punches, delivering a barage of insults, mirroring the sweat and blood drenched beaten snare drum. This is one of those more gritty, bloody tales, that suggests you leave part of yourself in your work or perhaps become the work… rather like a line from the 1980 movie and TV spin off “Fame”. The premise is impossible to test. The common myth that binds master and student is that of Charlie Parker, who was humilated for playing out of tune, by having a cymbal hurled at him by Jo Jones, narrowly avoiding serious injury. This we are told, motivated Charlie to practice and be reborn as “great”.

I won’t spoil the plot, I really enjoyed the film – one of the best films about musicians that I have seen. However whilst there are incidents of greatest created from strife, there are countless others that have huge disadvantage and struggles yet never become great or even “known”. The myth itself is an unrealistic portrayal of real life experience, which inexplicably sees different results for different people. Some will argue that this sort of toil and dedication is deserving of fame and success, yet this too is failing to acknowledge that there are countless masses that toil hard for little discernable difference.

So what has this to do with financial planning? well, certainly getting one’s finances in order can feel like an ordeal and a regular request for updates or documents, to some will sound like a demand. However, here we are not trying to create famously successful investors. We are attempting to make your finances work for you, to serve your lifestyle – which implies having a sense of life and style by design rather than by accident. I act as a form or coach or mentor, but certainly not a bully (I hope)… but one that enables clients to make informed decisions and then take action, having got a real sense of what purpose your finances has to fulfil.

* Mr Turner, Wild, The Imitation Game, Nightcrawler and Foxcatcher to name just five. I’m told that Whiplash has a UK release date of Friday 16th January 2015, Oscar season…

Dominic Thomas

What makes some great?2023-12-01T12:39:42+00:00
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