Welcome to another Wednesday update. Mark is on holiday again, so for probably the final week I’m in charge. Last time he was off Edinburgh was battered by a huge electrical storm. This week we’ve all enjoyed Storm Francis. The Gods are clearly angered by his absence, so we won’t be letting that happen again. At least not until half-term anyway.
If you or the organisation you work for are a subscriber to our insight package you will have received our latest Platform Market Scorecard earlier this week. It’s been a momentous quarter for us all, and the scorecard will give you all the info you need as to what has really been going on.
To find out the full details, I’m afraid you’ll need to subscribe (#marketing). Give me or any one of your favourite lang cats a call if you wish to rectify this grievous error. However, here are a few headlines to tease you into action.
Overall, it’s not been too bad. After the violent dip in the markets at the end of Q1, advised platform AUA now sits at £448.93bn (at end of Q2), slightly above the previous peak reached at the end of 2019. Net flows have held up well, all things considered, but gross flows are the lowest we’ve seen since 2015. Service wise, we assess 21 criteria based on adviser feedback, and with over 2000 ratings from advisers safely banked we can confidently say that, in the main, the sector is performing well. Lots of providers have performed creditably, and although some of the slack that adviser firms have been willing to give platforms is less in evidence, once again things could be so much worse.
It seems to me that the country is collectively holding its breath to see what happens over the next month or so. As I remind my kids on an increasingly regular basis, back to school day is fast approaching. However, I’m not sure the return to office life for providers or advisers will be so rapid. I’ve been speaking with a lot of senior folk over recent weeks on both sides of the fence and it’s clear there is a huge challenge ahead. Some, like Schroders, have already made public announcements of permanent changes. Others are privately saying “early 2021 at best”. If there is to be a move back to the office for providers, it’s going to be a gradual change rather than the reverse of the mass shift we saw in the last week of March.
Advisers I speak with also paint a mixed picture. Most are fine serving existing clients, but some are struggling to attract new business. This is perhaps to be expected, especially when we remind ourselves that we are talking about real people investing their hard earned, who are quite possibly not feeling like now is the right time to invest via a financial adviser. Short term dips in new biz flows are to be expected at a time like this. The big question is, is there anything more profound changing in the advice sector?
Professional Adviser recently covered some research from Intelliflo, showing that remote working could become the norm for half of advisers. South of the river, the NMA boys report that 30% of regulated firms have furloughed staff. I’ve had several conversations recently where these staff are admin/paraplanner employees, leaving advisers to pick up these tasks and as a consequence spend less time with existing clients and/or hunting new business. Add in potential uncertainty with an Autumn Budget (pension tax relief for the chop again?), the US election and god-forbid a potential 2nd wave, and the next quarter could be as volatile as the rest of the year. Stay tuned…
- The Woodford saga continues to induce a deep sigh. Lots of lawyer kite flying and 37.5% +VAT fees. Those poor clients….
- Pretty much the only positive to come out of this year has been the pace of change to start digitising the advice process and improving integrations. Two good examples this week from Nucleus and also Intelliflo/Hubwise.
- Interesting research coming out of eValue, regarding how advisers view the assumptions used in various cashflow modelling tools. Spoiler alert… they are “a mess”
- Homegames this week is with two of the finest men I know – Rohan Sivajoti from NextGen Planners, and our very own Steve Nelson. Tune in at 12:30, or catch it on our Youtube channel after. Don’t forget to like and subscribe, as the cool kids say….
And to bring this all to a musical close…..50 years ago today the 1970 version of the Isle of Wight festival was taking place, bringing a mind-blowing 600000 people across the water to a (very) big field around 10 miles down the road from me. Hendrix, The Doors, Miles Davis to name but 3. The line-up was incredible and means there is a huge amount to choose from for this week’s musical link. I’ve gone for Jimi, at his very finest…
See you next time