Yes indeed, siblings, it’s that time of the week again. More popular than Green Book’s Oscar win, if Spike Lee had to express a preference about his favourite long-term savings and investment-based weekly email, it would totally be this one. And I think we can all agree there’s no finer endorsement than that.

Even in the five weeks of doing this, there have been some weeks where there’s lots to write about and others where whimsy can have its day. (Actually whimsy pretty much always has its day.) This week is one of the busy ones, so let’s get into it.

Three main things to mention this week, one of which is a bit self-interested so you can skip that one if you want. But don’t.


First up, let’s have a think about the hook-up between Just and Novia (Jovia?) to launch a secure lifetime income product via the Novia platform. This has got Spire sitting in the back of it – the annuity folk, not the private medical ones – and is the first ‘proper’ version of an annuity product actually sitting on platform. Spire has some form in working with platforms – it launched an annuity portal with Nucleus a while back – but it never quite caught the imagination, which may well have something to do with annuities not catching the imagination.

As for this one – well, I’m not getting caught up in the increasingly shrill argument about whether clients should be allowed to want guaranteed incomes. I don’t know if the actual product will meet client requirements or not yet. But I do know that the way this has been done is very much of its time. If we look at the most interesting developments in recent years – 7IM’s Imagine and MyFuture apps, Standard Life’s PPM discretionary hub, Nucleus’s Narrate tool – they’ve all been built alongside the platform rather than into its core architecture. And that’s what Novia and Just have done here (Novia has form for this with its Report Zone, for example). What we see, then, is the platform becoming the centre of a hub-and-spoke type arrangement, rather than a hulking piece of monolithic technology (monoliths are always hulking. I’ve never known a monolith that didn’t hulk, though not everything that hulks is a monolith. Syllogisms are free in the Top Class Wednesday Update, kids).


Second, we have to mention Elevate’s price cut. I think platform pricing is going to be a popular subject again this year, but it’s Elevate going first, and you can read in detail what I think about it here.

In brief: this is a good thing, though of course SL had bumped Elevate’s price up after the acquisition a wee while back. Nonetheless, a ‘core’ IFA client with, say, £200k split across ISA, SIPP and GIA will pay 0.25% on the whole portfolio, with no additional pension charges. That’s quite aggressive. We hear mixed things from advisers on Elevate – quite a few firms are taking assets away; but even since this price cut was launched yesterday we’ve heard from firms who think it might put them back on the table.

Firms with existing clients on Elevate should pay attention to how the price cut will apply to existing customers, particularly if you’ve got best-friend special deals in place – again, read the blog for more.


And finally the self-interested one – today we launch a pair of guides for ISA season. These aren’t aimed at advisers, or the trade – they’re for end clients who can’t or won’t use advisers. As such they deal with direct platforms and providers rather than the usual advised suspects.

Each guide is short and sharp (well, as short and sharp as we get). There’s one on getting started with stocks and shares ISAs, and a separate one on ISA pricing.

Both are free and neither require any personal details – we’re releasing them into the wild and we’ll just see what happens. It’s a bit of a new departure for us, so we’ll see how we do. The idea to do this came from a giant of the industry (you know who you are) so if it’s rubbish then we’ll blame him.

The guide to investing is here.

And the guide to pricing is here.



As ever, we’ll do the right thing at the end and leave you with a few links we thought were interesting…

  • MiFID II will save clients £1bn in charges, apparently, according to Mr Bailey of the FCA. And that’s just for research costs. Will transparency drive fund, adviser and product costs down further? Yes, yes, it probably will.
  • Here’s a rum one: the UK’s favourite financial advisers, according to VouchedFor. True Potential wins out, with lots of votes. Folk who aren’t on VouchedFor (like SJP, for example) don’t make it in and small firms clearly get less votes. It’s all a bit perplexing.
  • But never mind. We invoked the Holy Spike at the top of this week’s Update, so let’s leave you with one of the finest music videos of all time, directed by the man himself.