Well, we did it. Smashed £50k for Refugee Support Europe with the Rock For Ukraine event. Thanks to Marlene Outrim for getting us over the line, but mainly thanks to every single person and company that went before and dug deep. Donations are still welcome. You feeling the cold here? Temperatures in Moldova and Ukraine are about the same as the UK at the moment: try doing it without a roof over your head and not enough to eat. More people will eat in the coming weeks thanks to your generosity, and that ain’t nothing. We pulled together as a sector and achieved something great.
And that’s our theme for this week. Let’s close our Consumer Duty hymnals for a week, and instead head over to Pensionsland, a mysterious place inhabited by druids, trolls, dragons and the last of the actuaries, a feared yet somehow deeply dull tribe who skulk in valleys forsaken by all but the lifecos.
We venture here, siblings, not for the lulz but to highlight an interesting skirmish led by our own pensions simian Lord McPhail of The Shires. This took the form of a letter – which you can see here – co-signed by 17 organisations including Canada Life, Redington, Quilter, PIMFA, the PLSA, the ABI, TISA, Nucleus, Interactive Investor and others – asking the Treasury to reconsider the Money Purchase Annual Allowance (MPAA) and at the very least move it to £10,000 from its current £4,000 level.
I mention this not because I’m chuffed that Tom pulled it together – though I am – but mainly because it showed that it’s possible to get consensus from time to time in our industry. It doesn’t happen very often, but in this case it did and that’s particularly useful given the fact that this is hardly a profound enough change to matter very much commercially to most providers. There aren’t enough people impacted by the MPAA, and a £6k rise isn’t big enough, to suddenly lead to massive trebles all round at pension providers, despite what a couple of grumpypants nay-sayers may have dashed to their keyboards to opine.
More fundamentally, though, there’s something in here about the unintended consequences of law and regulation aimed at rich people impacting those with more modest circumstances in undesirable ways. The shape of retirement for many people now includes phases where it may be important to draw on pensions at one point, and then when perhaps a piece of consulting work or an interesting contract kicks in later it would be ideal to be able to replenish the pot without a low and arbitrary limit like £4k. Recycling by tubby felines is clearly also undesirable, but the line is just drawn in the wrong place.
We saw more of this sort of thing with the MiFID II 10% drop nonsense, which was aimed at boffo old-school wealth managers who don’t tell anybody anything ever, but which swept up IFAs, platforms and various others in its seine nets. That finally exited, pursued by a bear, not least because the industry was united in pointing out just how Silly it was, and maybe we can get the same result for the MPAA. One thing’s for sure, finding points of consensus is the best way to get anything to move.
- Is there a Quilter platform reprice on the way after the Cirilium short back and sides? Could be, could be…”we have planned actions on our platform pricing to defend our existing flow” says the CEO statement with the release…
- Nice story here on Schroders adopting former #langcatlive tech spotlight stars Aveni to help with its compliance function. Aveni CEO Joseph Twigg spoke at our HomeGame 2 event last October in Edinburgh and was the very definition of A Good Egg. Proper interesting, what yon Aveni does.
- A tough week for Bravura, one of the platform market’s big three tech outsourcers. There are jokes about Libby Roy, Bravura’s new CEO and the return of Succession for a fourth series, but I sense now is not the time to make them.
- Speaking of McPhail, we did some totting up, and over 22,000 of you have listened to Old Tom’s Financial Services Unplugged podcat. Unplugged because there’s no product plugging, you see. If you would like to join the Throng then you may do so here. An ideal way to fill the lonely, aching hours.
- And your music choice this week is a real treat. Lankum are a four-piece from Dublin who do a sort of trad/doom/drone thing which isn’t exactly heavy like Sunn O))) or the like but in other ways is much, much heavier. They’re on tour just now and if you like your teeth being rattled and being kicked repeatedly in the chest by insanely good music I recommend finding a date near you. For now, though, here’s Go Dig My Grave. The further through the song you get the more things get very, very intense. It’s wonderful. (And check out The New York Trader when you’re done).
See you next week