Hello, me again, here to mark the exact mid-point between the Fear you feel at the working week to come, and the Fear you feel at having to spend the weekend with your family. It’s a public service of a sort, I suppose.

It’s results time (you did well, darling, don’t worry) and we’re starting to get the proper figures on how Q1 2019 looked for the platform market. We don’t have everyone in yet – just a few to go now – but I thought I’d while away your lunchtime this week by dragging you through a full on lang cat stat attack. The average reader of this Update spends 3 minutes and 1 second on it (cheers!) so think of it as the wholesome fibre part of your lunch before you go and have a cake at the Daily Mail Sidebar of Shame for the other 56 minutes and 59 seconds.


The results for Q1 generally remind me of the old joke about the sinner who, cast into Hades, was surprised to find its unfortunate inhabitants standing around up to their waists in what was admittedly a foul-smelling and rancid lake, full of unspeakable stuff, and chatting away amiably. “This isn’t too bad, bit whiffy, but OK” thought the sinner as he waded in. Just then a foghorn blew and Satan’s voice rang out: “Right lads, tea break’s over, back on your heads.”

That joke’s funnier out loud. Try it now at your workplace. See?

So Q1 was a blessed relief for the advised platform sector – assets finished the quarter at over £500bn, which is an awful lot of ISAs and SIPPs. Positive markets (MSCI World up 10.1%, FTSE 100 by 9.5%) obviously helped.

I like to take a moment to write out these numbers because we get a bit blasé about them: “yeah, 500 bill, whatever”, like we’re auditioning for the part of A Total Roaster in American Psycho.  So here it is: £500,000,000,000. To put it another way, the average platform holding across the sector is about £150,000. That’s the savings of 3,333,333 people this sector is looking after. We’d better be on our game.

Anyway, Q1 was indeed an improvement on the Quarter Of Repentance that was Q4 2018, but all is not totally rosy. We reckon year-on-year gross sales (that’s Q1 2018 compared to Q1 2019) will be 17% down, and net sales are going to be about half of what they were in Q1 2018. That’s ouchy.

So what gives? Well, we don’t think outflows are spiking too much, so the howwible net figures are down to slowing inflows. The slowdown is certainly due in part to the DB bonanza emergency stopping as the regulator hits the dashboard with its folder, and based on some quick chats we’ve been having with advisers, it seems that finally Brexit uncertainty is acting as a sort of investment repellent spray. That’s kind of interesting – when it was abstract no-one was worried, but when it’s close to the wire (bear in mind for most of Q1 we didn’t know about the extension to October) people do stop and think “ach, it’s just a few months and I should wait to see what’s happening.”

I suspect all the “time in the market not timing the market” sales aids in the world won’t help with that.


Anyway, we predict that once all the results are in we’ll see:

  • total assets under administration (AUA) on advised platforms recover to around £510bn for the first time since Q3 2018.
  • an increase in AUA of 7% from Q4 2018.
  • Gross sales reach £21bn over Q1 2019.
  • no more than a handful of advised platforms posting a positive increase in gross flows.
  • net sales of around £5bn

In a vague attempt to give our empty lives some meaning, we obsess about these stats and what they mean. The truth is that there’s still plenty of money flowing in – over £20bn gross sales and £5bn in net sales is still a decent result. No need to panic. But there are signs that those deep, limpid pools of assets are getting harder to reach. Nothing gets any easier, as our parents always taught us.


  • I’m all-in on integrations, so this new piece about CashCalc joining Origo’s Integration Hub is Very Much My Bag (disclosure: Origo is a client of the lang cat). Up with this sort of thing – the more ways things join together the better; whether point-to-point, through an API store such as Intelliflo’s, or through integration-as-a-service players like Origo is less important than it happening in the first place.
  • Getting replatforming wrong is expensive.
  • Our paper on transfer barriers in the platform sector has annoyed some anonymous keyboard warriors, which is excellent. The real point of the paper is that if a typical transfer takes between 10 and 20 hours, we should be able to get that down to 3 with the right sorts of efforts. Have a wee read if you haven’t already, and have a pop at me if you hate it – as long as you sign your name.
  • A bump for our Scottish event. About 20 tickets left.
  • And for the music slot, there was absolutely no doubt that it was always going to be AC/DC given the joke earlier. Please enjoy irresponsibly.



Right, back on your heads till next week