WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW

TODAY’S BLOG

WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW

When things around us begin to collapse, there is an undeniable sense that screams within us to “do something!” (I’m sure it’s not just me). The global stock markets taking a battering are not good for our nerves (we were not designed for this). The temptation to do something, anything! is palpable… but you have me and all proper financial planners telling you that selling in a crisis is just about the worst thing you could do. These things happen, they come they go, they happen again. This does not placate any of our feelings, but it may help remind us of truths.

However, we are still left with the feeling about wanting to do something, even if that is not to mess with your portfolio. So here I have compiled a list of things to do. It is not exhaustive, some are more important than others, but I would urge you to consider them, particularly if you are feeling reasonably well, but having to self-isolate, or have chosen to do so.

YOUR TO DO LIST

  1. DON’T PANIC: The first thing is not to panic, whilst this version of calamity has not happened before, something very similar has. Disasters have a lot in common, they are fairly regular and prone to repeat without much warning.
  2. TAKE STOCK: This is a good opportunity to review your cash savings. You will remember that we have talked about having reserve cash funds of anything between 3-12 months of typical spending, more in some instances. See our video. Well this is the moment that those reserves may need to be called upon. Also remember that you should try to limit cash savings at any one bank to £85,000 for full FSCS protection. Let me know if you want more about this.
  3. CHECK YOUR PRIORITIES: We all know that plans are well intended, but life has a habit of getting in the way. That doesn’t mean that the plan is wrong or doomed, merely that some flexibility is probably required. So your plans may need to be adjusted, reconsidered, reviewed, postponed, delayed or cancelled, depending on your circumstances and what is wise for you.
  4. REVIEW YOUR BUDGET: You should also take this opportunity to review your regular outgoings. Have another look at your spending plan. What is important and essential, what is nice to have and what is superfluous. Let me be clear, with some luck and good leadership, the current crisis may be over within a few weeks or months, but it could drag on for a bit longer. Stopping your subscriptions to things you enjoy and use may not be sensible, unless you don’t benefit from having them.
  5. LIVE GENEROUSLY: I am a great believer in small businesses, so think about the impact of your financial choices on those within your local community and our wider one. If you have booked and paid for something and now plan to cancel, yes that might be sensible, but you have a choice about whether you simply treat the money as gone, perhaps to someone that needs it more. I’m not suggesting you should, but to merely raise the fact that you have a choice.
  6. HOPE FOR THE BEST, PLAN FOR THE WORST: The current coronavirus is not going to be a “walk in the park”. If statistics are correct the fatality rate is higher than the normal flu, particularly for those with pre-existing serious health and respiratory problems, but we expect the vast majority of people to survive.  We all hope that we will all survive whatever is coming down the road, but some will not. Yes, this is very morbid. However, I am assuming that one of the reasons that I am in your life is so that I do not ignore the difficult challenges to do with money and your financial wellbeing. My job is not to sweet talk you with nice words, but to provide a responsible truthful voice, at least as far as I see it. You need to ensure that your Will is up to date, that your Executors know what their responsibilities are, that protection policies provide ample cover. You should also consider Power of Attorney so that someone you trust can take financial decisions on your behalf if you cannot. Need help? get in touch.
  7. COMMUNICATE – GET IN TOUCH: You also need to ensure that the relevant people know where your important documents are. Why not put a copy on our portal too – see www.solomonsifa.co.uk/pfp for more.
  8. REFLECT & REMEMBER: If you find yourself having to “self-isolate” why not take the time to finally get around to writing up a brief version of your life-story. I hope that this will have the effect of reminding you of many good experiences in life and happy memories and provide space to reflect on who and what is important. Add photographs, then get to work on creating a book using a bit of software within Apple or Vistaprint or something similar, get it printed, get it done. If you would like a useful template email me.
  9. CHECK IN ABOUT YOUR LONG-TERM PLANS: In terms of your financial planning – I’m working on the assumption that your plans have not altered. If they have get in touch. It is possible that some may need to be adjusted, but I doubt that this is a wise time to do that. Your investments remain globally diversified, across various asset classes and low cost where possible. We have seen the value fall sharply before and we will see it again, but there is no need to panic. In the same way that you didn’t sell your home during the last property crash, you sat it out.
  10. REVIEW YOUR BUCKET LIST: Appreciating the precarious and fragility of life will hopefully bring to mind some things that you would like to experience – have a think and let me know if anything new should be added to your bucket list, they dont have to have a financial price tag, but at least when we next review your plans together we can check to see how you are getting along…

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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WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW2020-03-16T17:23:31+00:00

An Act of Trust? My Cousin Rachel

An Act of Trust? My cousin Rachel

There’s a new reworking of Daphne Du Maurier’s 1951 story “My Cousin Rachel” that is currently in cinema’s. A romantic throw-back to a time when men wore britches and women had little to call their own, thank heaven we have moved on. This is perhaps a timely reworking of the story, visiting the issue of inherited wealth with a passing nod to the patronage of the landed gentry, whilst their labourers gather the proverbial scraps from under their table.

Philip Ashley (Sam Claflin) is an orphan, taken in by his Cornish, landowning bachelor cousin Ambrose. Sadly for Mr Ambrose, he becomes unwell and heads to Florence, where he is initially restored by the sun and charms of Rachel, who he elects to marry. His illness shortly returns, resulting in his mysterious death, leaving a widow and Philip to face the prospect of an early inheritance. Suspicious of foul play, due to letters from his dying cousin, Philip is determined to punish Rachel for what he believes she has done. “Whatever it cost my cousin in pain and suffering before he died I will return with full measure upon the woman that caused it.”

Under a Spell

As a somewhat naïve and hot-headed young man, he is mesmerized by his cousin’s widow when she arrives at the estate. All plans to punish are swiftly reversed and forgotten, because he “likes to look at Rachel”…. who is played rather brilliantly by Rachel Weisz.

I will not reveal any more of this thoroughly enjoyable tale, which will perhaps get you reflecting on whether women are viewed any differently today than they were then. In fact to say any more would not help your own reflections.

The thing about inheritance

However, I can say that the story is an example of why you need to have a Will and that it is reviewed regularly. Moreover (a word I use knowing the angst caused for my old French teacher, who swore it was redundant) it also displays some of the pitfalls of a Trust, or at least a Trust that reverts to a beneficiary who is only 25 and is unhelpfully naïve and besotted.

This is a common financial planning problem – at what age should someone inherit wealth? particularly a life-defining amount. For all the planning that can be done, this will inevitably boil down to how the Trust was established and who the Trustees are and to be blunt, how responsible the beneficiaries are.

In the story, Philip can rely on the steady hand of family friend and Trustee Nick Kendall, (Iain Glen) who whilst being a voice of reason, is also compromised by his hope that his daughter Louise, (Holliday Grainger) will marry Philip and thus be financially secure.  The Kendall’s suspicions are alert for conflicted reasons. Often selecting a Trustee can be a difficult task, the basics are that they must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind, and not held at her Majesty’s pleasure.

Selecting Your Trustees or Executors

Many clients will of course naturally wish to select family members or friends, there is nothing wrong with this, except that most families have at times, strained relations. Friends may change. The responsibility of being a Trustee or Executor is no small matter – just ask anyone that has been one (or is). This is why these important legal documents, which assure your beneficiaries of your provision, are reviewed regularly. In our post-modern society, people move around the world, not simply the county. Death at a distance (a fate that befell Ambrose) is rather more complex than that wedding you have been invited to abroad.  So when selecting Trustees, always use your head which may well conclude that those that share your surname are indeed the right people, but do think about this carefully.

Anyway, here is the trailer.

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
An Act of Trust? My Cousin Rachel2017-06-21T21:24:37+01:00

Jackie and grief in 1963

Jackie

I doubt there are many people over the age of 40 that do not know about the assassination of the American President… number 35, John F. Kennedy. One of the most iconic Presidents of American history helped somewhat by the charms of his wife Jackie. It is likely that you would have seen more than one movie about JFK, but not that many about his widow Jackie.

The film is of course, centred upon the assassination and its immediate aftermath. Retold, this time, from the given perspective of the then First Lady. Jackie Kennedy (played by Natalie Portman) suddenly became a widow at the age of 34. Her husband 12 years her senior had only been President for 2 years 11 months. Yet their brief “Camelot” was full of incident.

Grief on Display

Grief is of course a daily reality. We all lose people that we love. It is a deeply painful experience. When the effective Head of State is assassinated, an entirely different set of circumstances are presented to the grieving family and friends. There are practicalities of a ceremony to which dignitaries are expected. In this case JFK was killed on Friday and buried on Monday. This is set against the backdrop of anxious security forces on high-alert, not yet knowing the who, what, how many or why JFK was assassinated. A hasty usurping of position and removal from a home, albeit a temporary one. How to “behave” and conduct oneself? It is perhaps reminiscent of the thoughts that must have concerned the Royal Household when Princess Diana died nearly 20 years ago, albeit in very different circumstances, but the same dilemma – how to display grief.

1963 annus horribilis

The film touches on the wider context. Only 15 weeks earlier, the couple had lost their third child Patrick, just 2 days after her was born to infant respiratory distress syndrome. On Friday 22 November 1963 JFK left a wife and two small children, Caroline 5 and John 2. Both children had their birthdays that later that month, John Junior’s was the day of the funeral. Tough for any “normal” family to come to terms with. Certainly Jackie would be entitled to call 1963 her “annus horribilis”.

The truth about life assurance

Life assurance does not provide comfort. The financial services industry has always struggled to market life assurance and persuade people of its merits. It is a product that is only payable when a horrible event happens. What it does provide is the financial resource to continue, to go on, as gradually those left behind rebuild their lives. I have witnessed the benefits of life assurance and the strife caused by not having enough. I cannot overstate how important it is. The question of how much cover is really required will vary from person to person and how well resourced you are. It will also depend on how you have arranged your Will and your estate.

It is unlikely that your loved ones will be under the degree of pressure that Jackie faced, within the eye of the world’s media. However, you can plan to make any such event considerably easier than it might otherwise be. It is time to ensure that your own house is in order.

Here is the trailer for the film, for which Natalie Portman has been nominated for an Oscar as Best Actress in a leading role.

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

Jackie and grief in 19632017-02-21T11:06:58+00:00

Loss and Manchester by the Sea

Loss

Coming to terms with loss is perhaps one of the more significant aspects of the human condition. As a financial planner, loss is normally thought of in terms of the value of investments falling and how much money is ‘lost’. However, financial planning isn’t really just about money, its about planning your life (as far as one can) and then building financial architecture to deliver the plan.

A financial planner will also reflect on your loss and the impact that this would have on your financial plan and those that you leave behind. A really good financial planner will also help you think beyond your own family. How would your children be cared for if both parents are no longer alive? What are the practical implications for those appointed as Guardians or Trustees?

A Deep, Dark Sea of Despair

Manchester by the Sea is a film that has been short-listed (amidst some controversy) for a lot of awards .  Its well acted, but its grim. Little good happens and worse still, the main character (Lee Chandler played by Casey Affleck) doesn’t seem to find any real sense of resolution. The traumas experienced are raw and undeniably bleak, yet there is no sense, or perhaps, I had no sense that the lead character was ever going to be able to process what happened with any degree of resolution. Admittedly he faces horrendous set-backs (understatement) which would always be very difficult to overcome, they are life-changing.

I couldn’t do without…

It is still a surprise to me that so few people have a Will – something that every adult really needs. Most do not have adequate levels of financial protection in place. You are your biggest asset, yet many people are more likely to have insurance on their drains, pets, smartphone or washing machine than on their own life, or a lifetime of income… the very thing that pays for the drains, pets, smartphone and washing machine.

The Predictability of Loss

We all know that we will experience loss again in our lives, it is a regular feature and one for which we can prepare to some extent. So why not ensure that if you have agreed to be a Guardian or Trustee, that you know what to expect. Similarly have you discussed with your appointed Guardians or Trustees some of the key concerns you might have? The how, why, what and when of your Will and the implications for how your family are cared for.

It is my hope that you never need to claim on your financial protection. Doing so implies that personal tragedy has occurred.  There is the rather strange dynamic where I hope you never need what we arrange. If it is needed, then at least the comfort is that you had prepared as well as you could for those that are truly important to you.

So if you are now suitably prompted to rethink your value, please get in touch. If you’d like to know what to avoid with some better communication, here’s the trailer for Manchester by the Sea.

 

 

 

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

Loss and Manchester by the Sea2017-01-27T11:10:57+00:00

Facing the questions

It occurs to me that as a nation, we are avoiding many rather important questions. I love Britain and the freedoms we enjoy. I want a fair welfare system. However, until politicians, economists, financial advisers and the public at large face a few important questions, we seem destined (in the main) for more people reliant upon State support. In essence we collectively seem to agree that it is better for each of us to gain financial independence from the State or any other source of funds. There are variety of questions that come to mind, which challenge this assertion.

  • Why is it easier to get into debt than to save?
  • Why is it easier to borrow money at 100%+ interest than 4%?
  • Why is it easier to open an online gambling account than an ISA?
  • Why do more people play bingo than save for their pension?
  • Why do more people spend more money on a mobile phone than invest into their pension?
  • Why do so few people write a Will?
  • Why do more people take out travel insurance than suitable financial protection?
  • Why has betting become so popular and investing so problematic?
  • Why have we become such a litigious society, yet unwilling to take personal responsibility?
  • Why do so many people complain about low interest rates, yet do not invest?
  • Why is the financial community obsessed with the risks of investing but not the purpose?
  • Why do so few people take action?
  • Why do so many fail to review their arrangements?
  • Why do so many pay for a gym that they don’t attend?

To my mind, it seems that financial planning is rather like a diet. I accept that this is a contentious statement. Most people do not like dieting (by which I mean observing, controlling and restricting what is consumed). A “healthy” diet is only one part of the equation, we all know that regular exercise when combined with a good diet will yield results. I am someone that wrestles with this very issue. The problem most of us have is that we want quick results, we are generally unable to take a long-term perspective. Little wonder, given a culture obsessed by image and reaction. It doesn’t really matter how much you spend on a gym, how many books you read, how many videos/DVDs you watch, how much kit you buy… it all boils down to what’s going on in your head. Despite many motivational guru’s that have some considerable results for a few people, we all know that there are very few short-cuts and its all about a long-term perspective and a change in lifestyle. A key question is really are we prepared, willing and able to change?  I don’t subscribe to the belief that this is a simple “change of attitude” but it certainly requires change.

I am open to thoughts, insights, suggestions and answers..

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

Facing the questions2017-01-06T14:39:47+00:00

Probate – The Great Tidy Up

I wonder if you have been or are an Executor for an estate. Most people will experience some degree of involvement in the Probate process at some point in their lives – for many it is the death of a parent or sibling. In simple terms Probate is the accounting for the value of an estate (upon death) of an individual. This involves proving his or her identity, residency and a full account of assets and liabilities.

To say that Probate can be burdensome is an enormous understatement. The Executor of an estate is responsible for the proper, full and fair accounting of the estate to HMRC, after all inheritance tax may apply. As a reminder, failure to to do properly can have the consequence of a custodial sentence. So it is not a task to be taken lightly.

Just stop to think for a moment. If you had died yesterday who would be responsible for being your Executor? you have of course clarified precisely who this is in your Will right? (see my guide to Wills). Anyhow back to the morbid thought of you departing yesterday… just think of all those statements, accounts, online accounts, offline accounts… have you kept your records up to date? Whether its a Bank or Amazon, Sky or a subscription to your favourite magazine, your tiddly share holding in BP or an substantial portfolio… where is it all? and all those passwords? As you may now begin to imagine, the list of “stuff” that you have can be daunting… so you pay your AA membership monthly, but why is there also a Green Flag certificate and an RAC one in your desk drawer filed under “car”. What do you do about loans or creditors? and where precisely are the Deeds for the house?

I’m sure you get the picture. Of course it would be easy to say – oh I’ll sort this out when I’m 80, but who knows how long any of us has left? If you have any life assurance you have already acknowledged this fact to yourself. So it is time to start getting prepared. A good financial planner will hold a lot of this sort of information, but many do not and even my own very thorough assessment of a clients situation is bound to have some gaps for some of these things. So without any panic, can I encourage you to think and begin taking action on this…. and by the way, if you live alone, who has the key to get in?

Dominic Thomas – Solomons IFA

Probate – The Great Tidy Up2017-01-06T14:39:48+00:00
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