Back in the saddle after last week’s cheeky Hamburg sojourn to watch Canadian jazz thrash legends Voivod and Bay Area veterans Testament, and I can honestly say that it did me the world of good. As long as by ‘me’ we don’t include ‘my liver’ and ‘my neck’. There’s a joke somewhere in “two Scotsman, an Irishman, a Mauritian and a German walk into a metal bar on the Reeperbahn at 2am on a Wednesday morning” but I’m not smart enough to work it out. Anyway, Brexity queues aside (grrrr), I thoroughly recommend that sort of impromptu break thing. And if anyone would like a primer on Canadian jazz thrash legends Voivod I am very happy to oblige.
Speaking of being obliging, it may come as no surprise to students and observers of this business that we call show that some wastrels and vagabonds are not. I realise this doesn’t really narrow it down, but in this case we’re talking about the provision of VFM assessments, target market stuff and other Consumer Dutery data.
There’s a clear two-speed market developing here. The more progressive manufacturers have got their poop in a great big shiny group and are publishing their assessments openly. They’re the good guys in all this. Everyone still thinks all their propositions are whizzo and double-super value for money, but you have to expect that.
But there is another cohort who aren’t playing anywhere near as nicely. These scamps either haven’t got their stuff together yet – pretty much unforgivable given that we’ve only got just over a month to get everything tickety-boo and you need time to work with what they produce – or are keeping it under their hats.
There’s a very interesting dynamic evolving where some manufacturers have their stuff produced, but aren’t publishing it for open scrutiny. If you want to read it you have to get your local BDM – if you have one – to come and see you and bring it to you so they can Tutor you in the Ways of Righteousness and particularly point out this bit on page 8 which shows everything’s great and presumably direct you away from that bit on page 76 which isn’t anywhere near as good, and anyway all our competitors are rubbish too, haven’t you read page 581 of *name competitor’s* VFM assessment? It’s as yet unclear whether you need to wear white gloves and read the documents under climate controlled conditions in a clean room, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised.
I find this profoundly depressing. There’s been the opportunity for reset after reset over the last 25 years. Every time some folk progress, and others – and not always the ones you’d think – try and game it so it’s a sales opportunity.
We haven’t got long, and the Duty isn’t a sales game or a threat (unless you suck) – it’s a Duty. Every manufacturer in the open market should be publishing their assessments openly and inviting scrutiny. If there are flaws or gaps in a proposition, that’s fine. Everyone has them. You just say what you’re doing about them. Of course, if you’re not doing anything, or you’re embarrassed, or you just think you’re superior to everyone else and the hoi polloi shouldn’t get to marvel on your magnificence then I guess you wouldn’t try and do the right thing. You’d shove your assessments up your jumper and hope that no-one’s looking.
Except we are.
6 weeks or so to go. Is this sector capable of handling itself creditably? I guess we’ll find out.
- As people start rate-shopping for cash ISA best buys again – kill me now – it’s a good time to revisit the most recent podcat with Tom Selby, surely the least taciturn employee of the famously taciturn AJ Bell. ISA simplification is it you want? Tom’s got you right here.
- We’ve almost stopped arguing about the theme and stuff for our Edinburgh conference – HomeGame 3 – in October. If you’d like to book on while still not knowing very much about it then we salute your indefatigability and you may do so here. Free for advice professionals, not for everyone else, usual drill. 4 October, National Museum of Scotland. It’ll be braw.
- People on the move – Libby Roy exits Bravura, stage left pursued by a bear, and in more surprising news David Montgomery exits M&G Wealth. Could they be about to SWAP JOBS? No, no, probably not.
- CRMs are, like, hot right now. Congrats to Gareth, who once built a lang cat website and I think we can all agree that’s got him where he’s got to. Only a matter of time till it’s properly independent suitability analysis software that’s hot, right? Right?
- And your music choice – we all need perked up after a hot spell. Sadly you’ll have to look elsewhere for that because Sigur Rós has got a new album out and it’s everything you’d want from them unless you want Hoppipolla again. Atta is the record, and I wandered alongside the Forth to work the other day listening to it and making occasional small Noises of pleasure. Listen to Blóðberg and you may make small Noises too. Pro tip – the music doesn’t get going for the first couple of minutes of the video, although it is very beautiful. Stick with it.
See you next week