Hello again, siblings. If it’s true that time is a human construct, devised by the ancients to explain the otherwise random and horrifying universe, then it must follow that marking the passing of that time with, for example, a weekly update timed to go out exactly at 12 noon is an almost Platonic expression of the nature of futility.

That said, happy Wednesday, and it’s lunchtime. Go get your weapon of choice and settle in. This Update is guaranteed 100% Thrones spoiler-free, because I haven’t seen it. I’m assuming the dragons basically run away with it again, considerable numbers of people forget to put their clothes on, and other people get stabbed in the eye a lot, but as I say I wouldn’t know.

What I do know, though, is that transfers have been in the news a lot this week. I’ll admit an interest in this – we published our latest paper, Signal To Noise, yesterday. It looks at the sclerotic nature of the transfer market, particularly with reference to platforms but more widely too, and suggests some things that everyone – regulators, providers and advisers – can do to increase the velocity of money moving round the market.

The paper is free to download thanks to AJ Bell Investcentre who very kindly ponied up some sponsorship – a cat’s got to eat. You can get it here from us, or there from them.

We all know that transfers are much more hassle than they need to be. Some of that is down to the industry – not enough automation, not enough constructive working between ceding and receiving providers, some naughtiness and sauciness at times from providers making it harder than it needs to be. Some is down to the regulator – you ain’t getting away with non-advised transfers.

But some is down to firms too. The pressure hasn’t been there to really make firms address what are sometimes very inefficient processes – the complexity and cost of transfers is a beard for not having to lift the bonnet. But – once again – PROD, SM&CR, COBS and MiFID II are all riding into the view like the Four Very Boring Horsemen Of The Regulatory Apocalypse and making it clear that the job of optimising ongoing suitability is not going away.

Anyway, no point in repeating what’s in the paper. Have a wee read, and I hope you like it. There’s also a Spotify playlist to go along with it. Do you get this kind of holistic service from the Big 4, with their MBAs, directional hairdos, spangled syntax and six-figure fees? No, siblings, you do not. And that’s a #langcatfact.


Totally inadvertently, we also saw Origo publish a table of transfer data this week – you can find the results here. It’s a great insight into who’s soaring on dragonback and who’s plugging along on foot, or something like that.

Alongside this, the Transfers and Re-registration Industry Group (TRIG – and let me tell you, those cats know how to party) has been in the news with its STAR initiative, which aims to get providers to sign up to disclosing transfer times and data, and working to reduce them.

Not everyone’s happy with TRIG/STAR, mainly because it sounds like a 1970s prog double album, but also because it costs a wee bit to join and is the industry trying to self-govern. I get the criticisms, but I think STAR is more good than not, and I think adviser firms will, in time, come to expect that suppliers are signed up to it, or something like it. Speaking as a firm which assesses propositions, I would rate a provider who is transparent but needs to improve their times more highly than one which won’t disclose at all. You can’t measure what you can’t see.

Ideally I’d like to sign off with a knowing Game of Thrones quip here, but I haven’t got one. If you do, send it to me. The traditional pack of Rolos for the best one.


  • Stat attack part 1£25bn has now been withdrawn as part of pension freedoms since April 2015. The funded pension market is worth something in the region of £1.4trn (maybe not, but it’s a Big Number anyway) and so this represents something like 0.017% of assets. So we can probably all relax a bit.
  • Stat attack part 2 the new ISA stats are out. More folk are buying stocks and shares ISAs again, which is nice. Tonnes of good stats in here. The ISA market is worth just over £600bn, for example, with a 55/45 split in favour of stocks and shares over cash. That one’s for free. In fact they all are, but you’ll have to read the rest.
  • I only just listened to this podcast from Phil Young on PI cover and how it all works. It was really interesting. I say ‘listened’ – I read the transcript. You can do either one here.
  • No surprises – the musical slot this week goes to Peter Gabriel and Signal to Noise. Enjoy this great live version with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan guest starring.


See you next week, unless it turns out that time really is an illusion, or we get eaten by dragons.