Hello siblings; it’s me again after New Ben had a go last week. I thought he did quite well; that Update was mid-to-upper second quartile and if Ben really sticks in over the coming months, he might even grasp the bunioned toe of bottom-of-the-top or even top-of-the-bottom-of-the-top quartile. Eyes on the prize and all that.
I’m writing this on Tuesday on the rattler down to London because this is Awards Week – Schroders Platform of the Year tonight and the Money Marketing Awards on Thursday. I’ll be wearing the same knee-length tartan frock for both, before anyone asks.
Awards are weird – it takes a particularly grumpy weltanschauung (hello Several IFAs) to not like celebrating good things. But of course awards ceremonies come pre-loaded with politics and too-warm prosecco and so the tropes around buy-one-get-one get dusted off. I’ve been a judge on pretty much every industry award panel going (the lang cat more widely helps judge PotY and many more now) and that has never been my experience. In well over a decade of doing it I’ve never once been leant on to choose a winner for commercial reasons. Humans are humans and a bigger problem is wanting friends to win, but that’s why judging panels exist. I don’t have many friends, so it’s never really been an issue for me.
Anyway, I stopped going to these things completely for a number of years, but lately I find I quite like seeing everyone together and up for a good time. And of course the win may not mean much to some, but for some companies and adviser firms in particular it really does, and that’s OK, I think. So congrats in advance to those who win, and for those who don’t or who are new to it all: accept a tip from an old lag – stick to the red wine (the white will give you heartburn), don’t go to Bar Italia afterwards and if anyone says “Dover Street” run like hell.
As we pull out of York – stop it – I’m also reflecting on a fun session I had with Many Australians late last week, who were on a “study tour” (this is absolutely a euphemism) of the UK including Edinburgh. Before they got really tucked into the Schiehallion we did a business session where we covered regulation, market trends and heard from a couple of awesome adviser firms. It was interesting to watch them try to relate what we’re doing with Consumer Duty here to the Royal Commission and other big changes down there.
We know already that what you do is by no means the toppermost priority for the regulator; there’s consumer credit, crypto bros, finfluencers and more for the FCA to worry about too. But we also know that within the corner of Stratford that looks at the profession, two key areas under review are ongoing adviser charges and retirement income planning. That first one sent shudders through the ockers. It’s known as Fees-For-No-Service in Oz and it’s driven a coach and horses through the advice industry there.
It’s not the ‘prime’ clients who get your best attention that the UK version of this destabilises. It’s the income base that comes from the filing cabinet; the wee bits of trail that are still covering a bit of the leccy bill; the 25bps on the client who never replied to anything and has fallen out of the review cycle system. The view from the soon-to-be-beaten-by-Fiji advisers? Get your retaliation in first and either ditch those clients or get showing them some love.
The regime down there is a bit different in the provision of data; firms don’t get the same volume of data requests that you all do, and seem to be able to exercise some discretion in what they share with their regulator. But all the losing-to-a-nation-of-less-than-a-million firms in the room agreed that they got a better result by stumping up data including problematic stuff; it was those who tried to show everything was peachy or didn’t show anything at all that found they were the centre of attention. I do wonder if there’s a smidgeon of a learning here for all the firms saying they don’t need to do anything about the Duty because everything’s fine and there’s nothing to see here, move along.
Links below and your music choice – apparently Ben got lots of approval for his effort last week, so I reckon I need to top that. Here, then, is the classic Rebel Girl from Bikini Kill. Just feels like a riot grrrl week, dunno why.
See you next week