In a world where Greggs The Bakers sees its profits rise 9% because of vegan sausage rolls, where the people that regulate advisers can’t work out when the bad advisers they’ve regulated have gone to be regulated advisers somewhere else and left their liabilities behind, and the good ones are buried in a blizzard of disclosure and where Jacob Rees-Mogg gets taken seriously, where can we turn? What certainties can we cling to? Where did we go wrong? Où sont les neiges, in point of fact, d’antan?
NOSTALGIA AIN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE
It’s a fine time for nostalgia, as it happens. It feels that every big shift that’s happening at the moment; every change that we and all the other geeks are poring over, are drawing us back in time, not forward, borne ceaselessly back into the past.
I was thinking about this last week when I mentioned Lloyds getting back in the advice game. And I’m thinking of it now as I read more stories of pension transfer mis-selling, and portents which suggest clients are still distanced from their own decisions.
Maybe it’s the time of year. We’re getting the full-year results in for lots of providers at the moment, and so it’s a natural time to look back. If you’re interested in all that stuff, broadly speaking the year was alright, consisting of three quarters which were pretty good, all things considered, and one quarter which sucked mightily. I didn’t think it was possible, but it both sucked and blew. As I’ve observed before, irritatingly that first wave of MiFID II ex-post disclosure will include Sucky Quarter 4.
The complete figures, when they’re out, will show clearly who was nailing it in terms of service and who, well, wasn’t. There are some uglies in there, and it won’t surprise anyone to learn who they are. But interestingly, even the platforms who had the most, er, challenging time still hung onto very nearly all their assets, which is to say your assets, which is to say your clients’ assets.
THE BEATINGS WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES
Yes, things got dark and weird there in 2018 for a little while (it never got weird enough for me), but as a sector we hunkered down, stayed hydrated, and waited for the worst to pass. The hens stayed inna pens, even as the goose swooped down.
It makes you wonder – how bad do things have to get before assets really start moving around in this sector? We have no ideas, and they’re pretty firm. Nucleus reckons there’s a ‘wall of money’ ready to fly out of life companies (do walls fly?), sort of like the mass sponge migration in Ghostbusters. Dunno. Might be true. But then Nucleus has always believed that (and mainly been right).
One thing we do know is that the regulator gave the sector until the end of Q1 2019 to sort transfers out and make them easier. Well, the velocity of assets hasn’t increased, the Platform Market Study final report is due in a few weeks and – oh! – it’s nearly the end of Q1 2019. What treats await us? What larks!
Right, that’s enough musing for this week. You’ve all earned a sausage roll, but there aren’t enough vegan ones to go around, so some of you bigger lads will have to share.
A FEW BITS TO FINISH OFF
- Competition time! There are seven quotes from various cultural sources above. Find them, and send them in to [email protected]. I’ll put the right answers in Mark Locke’s heritage tweed cap, and draw a winner, who will get a prize of my choosing. (Rolos. It’ll be Rolos.)
- Talking of transfers, one of the biggest hassles is getting companies to talk to one another. I like the look of what L&G has done with Origo in terms of transfer tracking. It’s been tried before but has always been too manual, really. More of this sort of thing, say I.
- Having made noises about AJ Bell’s price cut last week, they’ve only gone and cut the price of their passive multi-asset funds as well, which means I have to mention them in consecutive Updates which I Don’t Do. So plus 10 points for the price cut and minus 43 points for timing. We won’t talk about calling the new MPS range Pactive.
- And finally, something to listen to. Tonight as I write this (or last night as you read it) we’ll have the biggest supermoon of the year. So here’s Supermoon by the superlative 65daysofstatic. You will enjoy this.
See you next week
PS if you have any friends who you want to play tricks on, or who want to subscribe, just send an email with ‘Subscribe’ to [email protected] and we’ll deal wtih the rest.