Greetings sports fans!
Steve here subbing in for Mark who is on his on annual leave. A silent retreat in the Himalayas this time round I hear. Or it’s Easter hols with the kids. You pick the reality you wish for. Me? I’m just back from a rather splendid few days down south with my lads. Or ‘Easter sports-fest 23’ as I just started calling it a few seconds ago. Among a few stereotypical tourist-y-tourist, London-y-London things, we took in a tour of Emirates stadium, tour of Wimbledon and caught the Southampton v Man City match alongside my fellow Top Class Wednesday Update benchwarmer, Mike Barrett. And it was at St Mary’s stadium I had a very mild existential crisis. One of many I have going on. There are five in this Update. I’ve numbered them. You’re welcome.
At some point during the match (probably in-between the many Man City goals – sorry Mike), I commented to Mr Barrett that the atmosphere in the home end was all a bit friendly compared to what I’m accustomed to in the blood and snotters lower leagues of Scottish football. I’ve followed Dunfermline Athletic since 1988 (it’s just dawned on me after a quick Google that on Sunday it’ll be thirty-five years since my first match. That’s #1). Mike then said something insightful (stopped clock etc) about the price we’d paid for admission between the four of us and the resulting effect this has on the demographic.
Now, there’s a bit in Updates like this where the author uses this wee bit of background fluff and pivots away from a personal anecdote and links seamlessly to a bit of industry-specific content. And here it comes like an unstoppable freight train of subtlety. Are you ready?
That little nugget from Barrett got me thinking. Occasionally, just occasionally I stress, when I’m feeling all Mr Sadface about the sector, I get caught in a thought-loop based on something someone said to me many years ago. I can’t remember who it was or what the context was (great anecdote Steve, well done) but they looked at me in the eye and said… “You do realise Steve that all we do in this sector is make rich people a bit richer?”
This, clearly, is an offensively reductive view of the world and belittles all the hard work that goes into everything we do, not least the advice profession that I spend half my working life interviewing and learning about all the great work they do.
But let’s look at what’s true. I’ve been at the lang cat almost 10 years now (#2) and financial services is all I’ve known, spending almost exactly 20 years (#3) here. Throughout that time the advice gap (or wealth gap) has been perpetually on the agenda. Perpetually within strategy packs of very clever people doing very clever presentations. Perpetually on the regulator’s radar. But perpetually unsolved. Whether you want to call it robo-advice, hybrid advice, simplified, guided, digital, whatever. Nothing has stuck. Nothing has moved the needle. And large organisations have come and gone from this space, Vanguard being the most recent high-profile example.
Are we actually up for solving this? I don’t have the answers (#4) but we do have some extremely good research (pivot!) coming down the line on this subject. Next month in fact.
How does one shake oneself out of an existential crisis? Epictetus, Seneca or one of the other famous stoics would probably tell you to simplify things right down. Focus on your own reality. Control what you can control. But the 3rd best stoic philosopher in the world, West Fife’s very own Jim Nelson – who also happens to be my Dad – would have some very particular advice and I’ll share it with you right now. “Stevie-boy, will you just shut up and get on with your work”. Quite.
Keeping me and the lang cat team crisis-free and busy has been the release of our annual platform report, State of the Platform Nation. That and its sister publication (State of the Adviser Nation) are the biggest regular set-pieces we do. It’s packed to the gunnels with analysis on how the platform sector has fared in the past year or so (spoiler – tricky times) and includes feature pieces on cash rates, pricing and tonnes of data. The report was out yesterday and you can get it if you’re a subscriber to our stuff. Advisers, via our Analyser tool and providers by getting in touch.
PIVOTING SOME LINKS
- We’re still on the hunt for provider ratings. If you work in the advice profession and can spare five minutes, then we’d love to hear your thoughts on the providers you work with.
- If my bleak meanderings on wealth disparity in the sector have got you down then you can lift yourself right back up by listening to the fabulous Helena Wardle. She spoke at our recent live gig about the very subject and you can see her here from the twenty-minute mark. If anyone can fix things then I’m putting my money on Helena.
- Always like reading Faith Liversedge’s stuff and this was no exception. Did Chat GPT write this Update? Who can tell.
- Fancy joining us? We’re still on the lookout for new cats and you can find out about the two roles we have open here.
- Music choice this week is from Wet Leg. I put Wet Leg on the office Sonos yesterday and Kate from my team (who is gradually making me redundant and will be running things soon) asked who put it on. I said me. She said “really?” in a way that actually meant “I’m surprised you put Wet Leg on given how old you are Steve”. And that is our fifth and final existential crisis. I’m off for a lie down.