As we wave farewell to May – notable for sharing its name with one of the two most redoubtable dinner ladies at my school (the other was, and I’m not making this up, June) – something strange has been going on in the fine port of Leith. It’s called ‘sun’ and we’re not terribly sure what to make of it. Actually that’s not true – the fine Persevering denizens immediately knew what to do. No sooner had the temperature crept above 13 (that’s 56 degrees for our overseas readers. Hi Brad and Delores.) than Taps were Aff. Dear Lord, were they Aff.
In Aberdeen, the mica crystals in the granite shine and sparkle in the sun; get it on the right day – usually one day in August every four years or so; it’s raining the rest of the time – and it’s quite magical. The effect wasn’t quite the same on the Shore yesterday; the sun reflected more like a searchlight off basking, pasty Leither flesh and it’s a miracle the 16 bus didn’t end up in the water. Fun fact: all bus drivers in Edinburgh who drive past either the Shore or any of Edinburgh’s fine parks are issued with wraparound polarising anti-dazzle sunglasses for exactly this reason.
What does this have to do with the confluence of insured and non-insured business on UK platforms? Well, let’s find out. We’re on this journey together.
Let’s start by opening our textbooks at L for LV=, which has just announced its long-in-the-making partnership with Embark. This is a straight-up white-label of the Embark platform – when you log in to LV= as an adviser you can turn right to buy the usual smoothed managed insured stuff or left to get platformy goodness. It’s pretty hard to imagine that this in and of itself will get your socks rolling up and down; it’s not like you couldn’t go and do business on a platform already and if you want that platform to be Embark that’s not very hard either. But if you see this as a first step of creating an environment where you can seamlessly bring together insured and non-insured business then it’s a bit more interesting.
Keep that in your mind and go forward a page or two to P for Prufund – as mentioned in last week’s Update all the engineering for getting the Bewheemoth is all installed on M&G Wealth’s platform. And, while it’s not new, skip back to nearer the start and consider Aviva’s range of insured pension funds on its platform.
No names, no pack drill but you’ll also see, soon enough, more of this sort of thing from other quarters. So what gives?
There’s obviously still a desire for smoothed products out there. I know many readers of this will shun them as old-world, but sales figures say otherwise. What the manufacturers of these products clearly hope is that if you’re a firm which only wants to write business on platforms then you’ll consider adding a platform-enabled insured offering to your CIP. I’m not sold on that.
And if it’s not that, then it could be a defensive play – lifeco back books are still the larder from which platforms feast greedily. So you offer a platform experience as an ‘upgrade’ option (that word again) and take away at least some of the more obvious suitability reasons for transferring away.
But I wonder if this is a cyclical thing. After 15 years or so of frankly having the living daylights knocked out of them, perhaps what we’re seeing now is the lifeco sector trying to pick itself up off the mat and get back in the game. Not in a particularly compelling way yet; not with offers that would make a typical planning firm stop and reassess the landscape. But if it is the case that platforms, especially the bigger ones, have underdelivered in the past four or five years, then the same logic that brings new entrants to the space drives firms like LV= to think about how they can get a toe back in the water.
Early days, early days, but there’s nothing new under the sun (see, it all links) and it’s not a given that the names we all know are quietly going to go away and play golf. With Taps Oan or Aff.
- British Steel claims a well-known scalp as Ray Adams’ adviser business Niche IFA (or part of it) stops trading.
- Expect to see outflows continue to rise – cost of living squeezes take longer to hit the more affluent but hit they do…
- Due diligence in the spotlight in Roo’s fine piece; we applaud her choice of due diligence software particularly. Come see it in action here.
- New podcat alert – Tom talks to Stuart McDonald of LCP about longevity, Covid and more. Iss good.
- Got £800 or so? Want headphones? And a wearable air purifier, all rolled into one? In that case Dyson has got your back. I have lived too long.
- And your music choice this week is going to polarise you all. There are people who like Marillion and there are people who are wrong. This is for all the first sort. Enjoy this live version of Easter, preferably over and over again.
I’m out and about next week so most likely another cat will Update you. Be good in the meantime.