And so it’s nearly over, thank the deity of your choice. The No Fun Decade I wrote about 11.5 months ago started and self-actualised in a way very few of us could have ever have imagined, and what followed was attritional. “If you want a picture of the future,” wrote George Orwell in 1949, “imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.” He was 36 years out, but the man knew what he was talking about.
A BIT OF BUSINESS
As it was for Parmenion and Nucleus in the last couple of weeks, so it is now – finally – for Novia and LV=. The former joins Wealthtime and Amber in Anacap’s private equity stable – the sort of stable which one imagines has air conditioning and, I dunno, horse memory foam beds or something. A nice stable, anyway. The latter joins Bain – no, not that one – and I can’t even begin to imagine what that stable looks like. Everything is subject to FCA approvals.
Novia first – this makes sense to me; Anacap now has a platform with scalable technology underneath (Novia is a GBST tenant) onto which it can consolidate its other platform businesses. This looks like a growth story, although how firms who support Wealthtime will feel remains to be seen. It’s also one of the last platforms where the original providers of capital still own the thing but have now reached a point where they are ready to let someone else have a crack. That feels healthy. This isn’t to say that it’ll all be plain sailing; there will be bumps in the road I’m sure, and any PE-owned business is always under pressure.
Over on the Liverpudlian side, it’s harder to see what will transpire. Bain’s consulting division has done no end of gigs talking about the strategic opportunities in long-term savings and investment, so maybe they’re just taking their own advice here.
Two things I do know. First, PE doesn’t buy businesses to keep them in aspic. So whether it’s Epiris with James Hay and – possibly – Nucleus, Anacap with Novia et al, or Bain with LV=, we can expect the future to be different. Whether that’s in a good or bad way remains to be seen.
Second, for PE to come upstream and start buying providers as opposed to adviser firms and wealth managers is a statement on where they see the maturity of the sector. As you know, the time horizon for PE is typically 3-5 years, at which point something (not necessarily a flip) needs to happen. The investors who’ve ponied up for the PE fund aren’t doing it for fun. Set your calendars for mid to late 2024 – it’s going to be an interesting time.
Finally, I have to say thank you to Anacap and Bain for being ready to rock and roll on a Tuesday so I could write about them. That’s the kind of consideration I like to see, let me tell you, and I know the Update will have been absolutely top of their minds as they went through their 9-figure transactions.
A CHRISTMAS WISH
As we’ve picked our way through the wreckage of 2020, there have been countless examples of good people in our sector shining brightly. Many for clients; others for friends, families or communities. We are insanely, ridiculously, preposterously fortunate to work where we work. Nearly all of us still have jobs. Many of us have had – it’s almost unacceptable to say it – a pretty good year in terms of business.
That said, many people reading this will have been touched directly or indirectly by the pandemic – lost someone, been unable to visit an elderly relative in care, or just had a tough time.
In our time, estranged as we are from each other, problems go unseen if they don’t present on some kind of media. Particularly on social, we don’t know if our interlocutors are doing fine or been affected by this year in a way we don’t know about.
So my Christmas wish is that, whenever we reach out past ourselves through a keyboard and a screen, we check our privilege. Everyone is tired and fragile just now. Tend to kindness, attempt empathy, emulate those who have shone brightly. With a following wind we’re out of this thing by the summer. We can go back to being authorities on everything then.
Or, as Kate Shaw and Rohan Sivajoti said on HomeGames last week: don’t be a dick.
Once again we’ve spent time this year talking about mental health – most notably in this remarkable HomeGames with Paul Feeney. Our house charity is the Samaritans; as well as encouraging you to donate, I’d like to remind you that the number for the Samaritans is 116 123. Volunteers – shining brightly – will be available right through Christmas, while we’re attacking the Quality Street. Maybe someone you know or meet might need that number.
There is no better time to send a thanks attack battalion over the top than the end of the year, and I have one armed and ready to go. A huge skol, takk, kiitos to all of you for reading our papers and the Updates, and for sometimes saying you like them. About 6,500 souls now get this rambling nonsense. Thanks to everyone who has appeared on and watched HomeGames – an unplanned and unexpected byproduct of 2020, but one we’ve enjoyed very much. Thanks to all our clients, whether for our research and insight work, our PR and comms work, or those brave adviser souls who were early adopters of Platform Analyser in 2020. Thanks to all the journos who’ve let us – particularly Barrett – bang on in your publications. And thanks from me to all the lang cats for sticking with it during a tumultuous time.
We didn’t get to do our 10th birthday party, but as soon as everyone feels up for it and Boz/Wee Nic/Mark Drakeford/Arlene allow, we’ll get Leith Theatre fired up and there will be the mother of all hoolies. Your names are down and you are getting in.
A LAST MUSIC CHOICE
Here’s a rare thing: a Christmas record I like. Please take Calexico’s unexpected Chrimble album, Seasonal Shift as your offering this week, and in particular the opener Hear The Bells. There’s a lot of Pogues going on in this, crossed with classic Calexico, which is all good in my book. Hope you like it too.
And that’s it – we’ll see you next year. Have a peaceful and merry Christmas.
2021 > 2020.