Hello hello. Hard to believe we’re nearly through May; 2023 is progressing at a rate of knots. Or it seems that way, which as I’ve pointed out many times over the years, is all the evidence we need that time is subjective, arbitrary and an imperfect mechanism devised by humans to explain the random passing of events, and also to make sure that a) there is an opening time and b) we know when it is. This is also an excellent reason not to worry about deadlines too much, unless they’re deadlines I’ve set in which case different rules apply. Glad we’ve got that sorted.
Big week this week – lots of announcements from lots of places. We’re spoilt for choice. I think we should do the Abrdn AdviserOS thing, but honourable mentions also go to M&G who have finally managed to knock through the load-bearing wall on their platform and get the whole PruFund range ensconced thereon. PruFund is one of those funds that is a total manspreader; you put it on a sofa designed for three people and you’re lucky to get one and a half. So it’s been a bit of work, but if PruFund on the M&G platform was something you woke up wanting, then this week is a good one for you.
(Both Abrdn and M&G deserve crisp high fives for announcing their new things early in the week by the way. Other companies: you know the rules. Launch your stuff on a Monday or a Tuesday or hold it for the following week. This is not optional.)
Hokay, so let’s turn to the Abrdn AdviserOS announcement. If you’re an Analyser subscriber (priced to own etc) then you can watch a video of me banging on in detail about what’s happening – the press release and the ensuing articles only have a bit of it – here.
Abrdn has decided to ditch its twin-platform strategy of Wrap and Elevate, and in the celebrity deathmatch between the two it may come as no surprise that the 400-pound gorilla that is Wrap won out. So Wrap becomes AdviserOS at a date to be determined later this year. That’s something some of the papers seem to have missed – AdviserOS isn’t a new platform, and if you have clients on Wrap then all that happens is they get to watch with bemusement as a rebrand happens around them.
FundZone customers – all six of them – will lift and shift at the same time. More importantly, Elevate clients will see no change at all for now; but in due course they’ll be transferred over to AdviserOS. This is a good old fashioned platform-to-platform transfer; different contracts, different wrappers, different tech. Abrdn says it’ll handle it all for you, and that transaction histories will come across too. Also, no client will pay more as a result, although the charging shapes may not be the same.
Once that’s done, Elevate can be taken out behind the woodshed; its race is run.
So that’s a big thing – ever since then-Standard Life scarfed Elevate in 2016 various folk have tried to quash merger rumours – like this one – but they’ve never gone away and that’s because running two versions of the same platform which had a lot in common was always – and I’m using the technical term here – barking. Eventually reality reasserts itself.
What else? Wrap itself has had a fair bit of development lately of which it was sorely in need. There remains one big pimple on the forehead though, and that’s the pension. Because of, I dunno, ley lines between George Street and Lothian Road or something, Wrap SIPP was a tug-of-love child with both Standard Life (Phoenix’s version) and Abrdn both claiming they were the principal caregiver. The whole thing was a thorn in everyone’s sides, especially yours and this is all a very long-winded way of saying that the SIPP wrapper on AdviserOS will be 100% Abrdn with no traces of Standard Life (Phoenix’s version) at all. This is good for both providers I think.
You’ll also get published, open APIs for AdviserOS, which will enable agoraphobic people with Slayer t-shirts and questionable hygiene (only joking devs, love you) to send data back and forth to AdviserOS with gleeful abandon, at least if Abrdn does it right. Mainly what that’ll do is enable Abrdn to start offering additional integrated services which will surround the core platform – some of those will be part of the FNZ app store, some won’t.
We’re in a world of competing ecosystems here – fefundinfo has one, TP has one, intelliflo has one and now Abrdn will have one too. We don’t have much detail on that just now.
So what’s the verdict? Well, for now it’s just a rebrand and a marketing campaign, and not even that until later in the year. But looking forward to when things kick off, I think it’s good that Abrdn is embracing reality with merging the platforms. The SIPP repatriation is good. The open API is long overdue. The ecosystem concept might work, might not; stuff like this tends to be most popular when it’s not tied to a provider, especially if Abrdn wants to charge for the modules. We’ll see.
Abrdn is playing catch-up after being internally focused for far too long. It’s hard to keep a platform competitive when your gross national product is internal restructures. It can’t get where it needs to get to straight away; it needs some enabling steps to lay the groundwork. Losing Elevate is one. Sorting the SIPP is another. Opening out for integrations is a third. You can see the logic flow and it makes sense – but whether it means you’ll favour Wrap/AdviserOS with more business and, crucially, accept that it’s more expensive than the market is a very different matter.
- Congrats to our friends at the Institute of Financial Wellbeing who had their conference yesterday. Looked fun. Congrats to the winners of their awards too, who included former HomeGames and langcatlive speakers Darren Cooke and Kate Shaw.
- On another week I might have written about this – potential threats to the MPS model from developments in asset management regulation. Good piece from Dylan Lobo here.
- RIP Martin Amis. Money is good, but it’s the essays I love. Try this one.
- Listen here to Tom and Mike talk all things advice gap in our latest Podcat, with added Hybrid thanks to Chet Velani of EV. And if that’s not enough, read about what our panellists had to say about ways to tackle the advice gap at our recent launch event here.
- And your music choice – well, it might have been something with Andy Rourke on it, but we don’t do Morrissey on the Update so the baw’s on the slates there. Instead I found myself listening to The National’s new sad-dad record this week, which is good but which really just made me want to listen to my favourite National song again. So here is I Need My Girl, with its beautifully made video, and I hope you like it too.
See you next week