Well, this is a pleasant surprise – I thought it would be a while longer before I got to let my fingers loose on the Update, but Mark’s own digits are possibly getting tired in the lead up to our HomeGame3 event next month, and he has to walk the dog this week (so off brand), so here we are. Plus, I’m soon to not even be the newbie anymore, with Katey joining us from Money Marketing in November – she’s a proper writer and so I’ll take what I’m offered for now.
It’s been a whirlwind first ten days for me, having had a good chunk of horizontally-focused time over the summer, which luckily seems to be dragging on for a bit longer making things up in Leith last week all the more fun. I’m still getting used to the accent but did learn that words like Culzean are almost as difficult to pronounce as Belvoir (I’ll let you do the Googling).
Towards the end of my time off, I spoke to a small handful of industry friends and did think I might have missed some juicy gossip or at least a replatforming clanger, but then remembered it was summer holiday season and so things tend to calm down a bit. I mean Consumer Duty is all done now, right, so nothing more to see there etc. etc.
But after only a few days back at my desk, a lot of what’s being written about has struck me as being much the same or, well, simply more of the same: adviser use of technology (in particular what future platforms as we know them might have); how platforms really should be able to stitch everything together better; how on earth to prove value for money (because the FCA will come knocking at some point), and then said FCA backtracking or changing its mind every 5 minutes (e.g. Simplified Advice); plus plenty more.
Simplified Advice being given the proverbial boot is a particularly interesting/confusing decision, even if you didn’t think it was the right way to go. The oft-discussed Advice Gap (even further added to by regulation anyone?) is something that no one can easily fix and it will probably always need the industry to get together and work out for themselves if we have any chance of a decent outcome. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some good stuff out there such as Benchmark trialling a new tool, Santander’s Digital Investment Adviser, Monzo’s new investments proposition fresh off the press with a waiting list a Robo would be envious of (150k+ as of writing), and even Hargreaves Lansdown getting in on the action (despite what Peter thinks); but no one’s hit the nail on the head just yet. No matter how easy they are to access, these tools just don’t get the attention they deserve, and investors are still nervous or untrusting about investing, sometimes rightly so. All this before the cost-of-living crisis and cash interest rates being the highest for…well, as long as I can remember.
Mark talked about private equity ownership a bit last week with the purchase of 7IM by some educational Canadians, and there’s been some concerning potential redundancy news from Novia/Wealthtime (owned by the PE firm Anacap) in the last few days. These things are never nice to hear, but they are perhaps inevitable when two companies doing broadly the same thing for broadly the same client base are brought together with the aim of providing a better and more digitalised service. It will take some time for things to play out, but the team over in Bath are very experienced at managing this type of change and we send them our best wishes.
In Big Platform news, we had some more of that there PE action at the end of last week with confirmation that the Nucleus purchase of Curtis Banks had been waved through. Following a self-referral, the CMA didn’t feel they needed to do much digging, unlike a couple of years ago [double-cat plug for Katey and me]. The merger means Nucleus will be an ~£80bn organisation, with a good chunk of this being on-platform investment assets, so hopefully this will allow them to realise the efficiencies that being a scale business provides quickly and, errrrm, efficiently. Scale is often seen as being synonymous with success, but whilst this is the model the likes of Aegon have followed with their purchase of Cofunds in 2016, it’s often easier said than executed, as we all know.
Right, that’s enough from me for now. I’m on a detox sprint before ‘doing a double’ next week with both the Schroders UK Platform Awards and the Money Marketing Awards happening in the same week. Several cats will be in attendance across both events, so please do come and say hello. I’ve only got one dinner jacket attire setup (that’s standard, right??), so let’s hope I don’t spill red wine down my front at the first one, otherwise I’m going to be on the sparkling water.
Links below and after much deliberation and cogitation (no pressure, apparently I’m being judged, on my head be it), your music choice for this week is something to ease you into there being considerably less sun around for the next few months, the feel-good classic Birdhouse In Your Soul by They Might Be Giants which popped up on the office Sonos last week and I just couldn’t resist. It was either this or a potentially NSFW junk email blocker from Salt ‘n’ Pepper, so count yourself lucky.
Until next time (if there is one after that music choice)…