Afternoon everyone and a happy Wednesday to those who celebrate. Where I am the temperature has plummeted faster than in a meeting of the Commuters Association when Mick Lynch walks into the room and it feels like we are now on the run-out from 2022, for which I suspect many will be grateful right up until they see what 2023 has in store. Imagine looking back at 2022 as the good old days. Actually, don’t.
I’ll get onto the subject of the week in a moment – it’s platform charges you’ll be delighted to hear – but first, if you’ll allow and even if you won’t, I’m going to shill our #langcatlive London event in February next year. This seems a long way off but isn’t, and after putting the presale on last week we’ve already shifted about 30% of the in-person tickets. It’s a hybrid event so you can stream it too, but if you do fancy coming to see what I think will be a pretty unusual conference where – if I’m doing it right – at least 80% of the voices you hear will be advisers and planners, and where disagreement, proper thought and argument and dealing with complexity are not vices, then please get on it. It’ll be fun.
Home Truths taking place at the Royal Institute of British Architects which is way, way too posh for scum like us on Portland Place in London, 9 February. Free for advice professionals, not free for everyone else, but you’ve got 2 weeks to get £100 off with code EARLYCAT100 if you don’t qualify for a freebie.
Full details and booking here. I shall stop punting now.
THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING REDUX
For a very long time one of the worst kept secrets in the game was that no-one really paid sticker price for holding assets on the Novia platform. The only platform named after the Spanish for ‘girlfriend’ had a comically expensive headline rate, but any adviser that could spell their own name correctly two times out of three could get a deal, and most did. This led to all sorts of arguments between the last era of Novia management and folks like us, where they would say “your tables are misleading because no-one pays that price” and we’d say “so what price do they pay then, publish that and we’ll use it” and they’d say “we’re not going to do that” and we’d say “well what do you expect us to do about that then” and they’d say “you smell” and we’d say “you smell worse” and they’d say “whoever smelt it dealt it” and we’d say “we’re rubber you’re glue it bounces off us and sticks to you” and then we’d have won the argument and the Novia management would be all sadface and the whole thing was very unsatisfactory. Some of that is actually not far from the truth.
Anyway, in this Consumer Duty day and age you can’t be mucking around quite that much with price and so the time is as good as any for the new generation of Novia (soon to be renamed Wealthtime I think) management to publish an updated charging schedule. This is a price cut, of course it is, but on the basis that so many weren’t paying the sticker price anyway, maybe it won’t feel like much of one to users. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.
You can read about the price cut here, here and here so I won’t go over it again, but the highlight is a drop for clients in the crucial £500k to £1m tier from 0.3% to 0.2% which is A Lot More Like It. Less well-padded clients also get a drop from – no, stop it, I’m aching – 0.5% down to 0.3% or 0.35% if the firm has less than £10m AUA on the platform.
Back in the day I would have got the calculator and Post-It notes out and done a table or a heatmap on this, but now you can just go onto Platform Analyser and run your own comparisons on portfolio sizes and with competitors that make sense to you. You’ll need to pop the new charging structure in as a special deal because it’s not live yet (January is when it starts) but that’s easy to do.
But the TL;DR is that this pulls Novia into the pack on headline rate, which is grandy and dandy. I have a couple of other observations though. One good, one bad.
First, the pricing structure has also simplified. This is good and three tiers (the new structure) is better than five. Less is definitely more here. There are still far too many platforms mucking around with far too many tiers in an attempt to please some numbers monkey somewhere and everyone knows they’ve never been happy since no-one needed LAUTRO calculations any more. I still think tiering is a trick of the light and a stepped structure with only one step point would be best, but no-one asked me and quite rightly.
Second, Novia is now one of only a few platforms to explicitly link charges to how much the firm has on the platform. It’s only £10m, and only 0.05% difference at lower portfolio sizes, but still I don’t like it. The client cannot control this, and it costs Novia no more to administer an ISA for Mrs Jones whose adviser has £9.6m on the platform than for Mrs Smith whose adviser has £10.1m. I can’t see how this kind of structure has anything much going for it and I suspect these kinds of practices will fall by the wayside before too long. Not the biggest deal in the world, but if we’re cleaning house over the next year or so we might as well do a proper job.
Anyway, it’s been ages since I had a price cut to write about and I’ve had a lovely time doing so. Which I think we can all agree is the main thing.
- Adviser/wealth manager Atomos heads down the manufacturing route with Hubwise. How much value is there in having your own wrappers and own platform? Still a good point of argument. We should do it at an event, perhaps in February.
- Some people still believe decisions get made in meetings, which is funny. Anyone hoping for no movement at all on ESG rules will be pleased with this.
- New podcat – Joe Dabrowski from PLSA joins Tom to talk about consolidation, pension reform and more. Tom’s podcat is turning into an absolute treasure trove of pensions mastery and if you’re looking for a rabbit hole to go down, this is a fine choice.
- And your music choice this week is from Finnish metal titans Amorphis, currently touring the UK if you like that sort of thing, which you should. Here’s a video with snowy hills and blokes with beards – they’re all like that – for Wrong Direction which is great and also notable for its intro nicking the synth line from Save A Prayer by Duran Duran (seriously, listen to the bit at 50 or so). All part of the service.
See you next week, and once again please do book onto Home Truths if you’d like to.