Nostalgia, siblings, ain’t what it used to be. Nor are many other things, including (in no particular order): my eyesight, the size of playground slides, the age of policemen, the state of our democracy, and assets under administration in the UK advised platform market.

Whoops! See what I did there, Susan, I snuck a little bit of content in inside the first-paragraph whimsy. That, combined with the slightly more meaningful headline this week means that this email is headed in a Serious Direction, and we don’t need that.

No, what we need on a Tuesday night in which the rules of normality have clearly been suspended is a bottle of fine Argentinian Malbec, a keyboard and a ruthlessly fast internet connection, Russian Circles too loud on the stereo, and a burning desire to Update you all.

Two things glimmering through the haar for you this week.


First up, we are now finally in receipt of all the numbers for 2018 in the advised platform market. I’ve done a blog which you can find on the lang cat website, but for those who just want the headlines, let’s look back in anger, or mild dismay, with an innovative bullet point structure…

  • Q4 2018 was a basket-case (technical term) – assets under administration (AUA) in the advised platform sector were £375bn, down by just over £18bn from the end of Q3 2018, or 4.6%. This is only the second negative quarter for advised AUA in, like, ages.
  • Most platforms suffered a dip in gross and net flows in 2018. But most isn’t all: a band of specialists have managed to generate growth as the bigger players go through various forms of pain. Parmenion, Seven IM, TP and Raymond James all turned in a good performance in this regard.
  • Outflows were awful in Q4 2018 for the industry as a whole, but less awful for advised business. That’s because the advisers reading this did what they always do, which is stop clients reacting too fast. Those who stayed the course were rewarded.
  • Speaking of flows, platforms who have had a tough time on the old replatforming front really felt it in 2018: we all know who they are and what it’s all about. But when you get inside the data you really see how badly providers get punished for messing up in terms of new business. One platform was nearly 200% down from the same quarter in 2017. Not fun.

Anyway, there’s more in the blog and although the TCWU isn’t a vehicle to punt stuff to you, if you’re into the platform stats and analysis, we have an insight package thing where you get all the really good stuff that’s normally hidden under the counter in case the polis walk in (I realise this analogy may no longer work in the age of the internet). Sorry.


The second thing I would like to set drifting through your collective transoms only has a little to do with financial services. This one is a bit important, so settle down at the back. Our consulting director Steve Nelson, who is from Fife but has done marvellously despite that, recorded a fascinating, open and brave podcast with Ollie Smith from New Model Adviser on mental health in financial services. Steve was unbelievably open about some of the experiences he’s had, and I’ll quote:

“Something bad happened, but I was alright, and then something else happened, and I was alright, and then something else happened, and then something else happened and something else happened and that was too much.”

Both Steve and Ollie have been overwhelmed by the reception this podcast has had, including from people who’ve faced their own problems.

I don’t know anything, right, but it strikes me that in the pressured environments in which we work, too often it’s not OK to be not OK, if you know what I mean. I have this naïve notion that we work in a sector which is radically overpaid for what it does, isn’t curing cancer or anything like it, but which does perform some kind of useful service, and can be a warm, welcoming place in which people can be well, and those who aren’t well can get better.

If it pulls together and takes care of its own, it can better serve the poor folk who day in and day out trust us with their money. I think those of us who have the privilege to look after others who work in this sector need to take the issue of mental health at work much, much more seriously.

Anyway, the podcast is more than worth 30 minutes of your time, and you can find it here. It’s also pretty funny, and Steve is a) rude about Mike Barrett and b) nice about me at one point so that’s all a bonus.

Right, that’s far too much, Susan. The traditional links:


  • It’s Investment Platforms Market Study week! Keep your dial locked to the FCA website for the new final report and consultation paper (so they are doing something…) at 7am or so tomorrow. Here’s the interim report for those of you who are into box sets.
  • The Quilter and Standard Life Aberdeen Q4 results are out ( the last of the season) – Quilter is £80m into its replatforming journey with FNZ and has between another £40m and £80m to go. As the last of the big replatformers, the focus is really on to ensure it learns from mistakes others have made. FT Adviser’s Rachel Addison has the story with her here.
  • Standard Life Aberdeen now has one co-CEO office available for rent and has posted a pretty healthy set of results for FY 2018. AUA fell just under 6% on its Wrap and Elevate platforms in the quarter, but that’s about on the market standard. AUA stood at just over £54bn at the end of 2018. I remember the £1bn Wrap party…
  • Torn between Oasis and Russian Circles for the musical slot given the earlier bits of the Update. Russian Circles. It’s Russian Circles. You can find Oasis on your own.


See you next week.