In an earlier post, I had a bit of a go in an open letter at direct-to-customer platform giant Hargreaves Lansdown over their charging structure. Lots of people seemed to agree, and I’m pleased to say that…it’s made not the slightest bit of difference. That’s the power of social media. Or something.

At the moment, the platform industry doesn’t do that much for folks like me. I have to go to a bundled fund supermarket like HL, Bestinvest or one of the others. I can’t achieve the same level of transparency that advisers can. More propositions are coming, though. And it’s this that’s got me thinking. There are 2 things that need to change for me:

  1. RDR and execution only business. Can anyone explain to me please why I shouldn’t have the same transparency, visibility and control that I would through an adviser? Or why platforms selling to me shouldn’t be held to the same standard as those selling through advisers? Anyone? Thought not. So, FSA, let’s stop mucking about and bring XO business into scope please. Anything else is stupid.
  2. Proposition teams in businesses developing D2C platforms – stop looking at me as if I’m a cash cow. IFAs are highly skilled and savvy at driving down market prices from providers. The lack of an intermediary does not mean that an individual is less capable or savvy. And the fact we’ve been overpaying through the bundled supermarkets is just indicative of a lack of choice, not a lack of nous. So please stop taking your base price, looking at what IFAs charge for their specialist services, knocking off a bit and making that your charge. “A bit cheaper than going through an IFA” is not a value proposition. Take your base price, add allowances for marketing and direct servicing, put some profit on top and make that your price. If you’re not sure how, give me a call. It’s not hard.

It won’t surprise you that number 2 is based on a real-life experience, and one that’s got me not a little cross.

In summary, don’t take me and folk like me for idiots. We can deal with the detail, we know how to add up and we know what we want. We do not need protecting from ourselves.

I’m waiting with interest to see what shape of proposition some of the wraps considering D2C will adopt; particularly Ascentric and Nucleus. Maybe they’ll get it right by working closely with IFAs who are very used to dealing with what marketeers call ‘multi-channel consumers’. I hope so. Because otherwise I’m going to have to go and build one, and I ain’t got that kind of time.