Hello, have we all calmed down a bit now? I do hope so. It’s all been quite exhausting.

It’s come to my attention (hi Tom) that I have broken a promise. More specifically, a promise about the Updates, and there’s nothing I take more seriously than that. Even more specifically than that, I promised that the Updates would never be more than 400 words or so, and, er, they may have tended to be just a little bit more.

I have no defence and submit myself to the hellacious yet sagacious judgement of you, the Updatees. All I can say is that there’s always so much to talk about and I get a bit carried away.

But no more. This Update and future ones will be shorter. Of course, the bit you’ve just read can’t be part of the word count as that wouldn’t be fair. Nor that bit, or this one. Oh dear.


Happily my point this week won’t take too many words. I’ve been on a visiting-adviser-offices jag lately. My subject with the firms I’m visiting is very dull – all about process and how well or, you know,  not that the various bits of kit advisers use talk to one another and enable ways of doing business that don’t result in you being fitted for one of the nice canvas jackets with the extra long sleeves.

It won’t surprise you that the findings of my jaunts are pretty awful.  I’m seeing firms rekeying data – even basic stuff – three or four times. Whether your chosen XYZ kit integrates or talks with another piece of kit is a lottery. And jumping from one to another, especially back office systems, is an endeavour which leaves those who’ve done it with the thousand yard stare of those who have Seen Too Much.

New client setup takes major project management chops which you’d have to see to believe. Annual review packs are an exercise in origami. Fee reconciliations are the stuff of nightmares, and I mean the really bad ones with clowns in.

As I say, not a surprise if you’re a firm. But I’m struck by just how much the industry relies on adviser firms to pick up the slack in what it builds. And for once I’m not just having a pop at platforms. I think everyone involved has more to do. I’ve seen back office systems create factfind templates which then don’t match back into fields the system can understand, so admins are left to type in or CTRL-C CTRL-V stuff from the document THE SYSTEM CREATED IN THE FIRST PLACE. I’ve seen fee reconciliation sheets where nearly 2/3 of the lines didn’t match the expectation created on the system. And more, much more – and I’m only just scratching the surface.

I run a business and I hate that various bits of the kit we use to run the lang cat don’t talk (hello Sage). But none of that is truly business critical. Almost everything adviser firms use is, and I can’t help thinking that advisers are absolute stone cold legends for getting through it. Most firms I’ve talked to just shrug and say ‘yeah, it sucks but we’re used to it’.

So we need to talk about integration more; lots of firms have APIs now but with that comes the inevitable wrangles about the value of data – no point having an API if you’re going to weaponise it commercially.

We need to talk about how small businesses work and how they work alongside big businesses much more – and if you’re in one of these small businesses you must keep on in the Sisyphean task of making your voice heard with your software vendors, from platforms to risk profilers, to help make your life better; not through more features, but through fitting in to your life much, much better.


  • Replatforming update: Fidelity is pretty close to the end now and pension assets are moving over. As a result, we’ve updated the lang cat Platform Directory with lots of Fidelity-related new developments for those of you who keep tabs on this kind of thing, from MiFID II stuff through to some new Bed & ISA functionality. Check the New Developments page on Fidelity’s directory entry if you want to know more.
  • I’ve really been falling out of love with the way some folk are comporting themselves on Twitter and elsewhere. Chris Budd has too and wrote this very good piece calling for civility on public forums. I’m all in on this, as long as I can still insult my colleagues publicly.
  • Here’s a flipbook version of our white paper on retirement income functionality. Words to stir the soul. Good paper though.
  • Robo remains hard. That’s UBS and Investec, two firms that are fully aware of how to make a profit, both saying that the game’s a bogey. This piece from Econsultancy is interesting (though I always get grumpy when folk say something ‘isn’t a panacea’ like it’s a surprise – the point of panaceas is that THEY DO NOT EXIST), but it’s still a good piece on the limitations of fintech.
  • It’s #langcatlive Home Game Follow us on Twitter using that hashtag, and pray for sun. The burger buns might be getting a bit soggy as things stand. We’re pretty much full but can always sneak a wee one in at the back if you haven’t got a ticket and want one.
  • And in honour of our potentially slightly damper-than-optimal event, here’s the mighty Garbage to cheer us up with I’m Only Happy When It Rains. Obviously.

See you next week