So, it’s my second to last working day before paternity leave starts and I’m ticking off items on the to-do list faster than an [insert witty metaphor here that I’m too busy to think of]. Our second annual State of the Adviser Nation (SOTAN from hereon) research is in the field and Chester McSillypants here put his hand up to volunteer writing a blog to whip potential respondents into a frenzy of question-answering intent. So here we are. I’m not panicking. You’re panicking.

Anyway, when things were 76.8% calmer last week, I wrote an overview of the SOTAN project and you can find it here.

I’ve been struggling for inspiration as to how best to construct this blog and then it hit me. A listicle! One of those big lists. Like the Buzzfeed do. Or Vogue. Does Vogue do lists? Only when they’re fabulous. Little Vogue joke for you there.

10 things I learned from last year’s SOTAN. That’ll do it. I’ll convince you all to fill it out in a convenient, avant-garde, entertaining, packaged fashion. Free from traditional convention like a ‘narrative’ or a ‘coherent paragraph’. Yes. A list will do. And then I’ll be free. Free as a gazelle traversing the African grasslands. If indeed that gazelle is about to spend his next 3 weeks changing little calf nappies.

Don’t want to read my listicle? No problem. You can jump straight to the survey here.


  1. It’s very difficult to ask everything you want to ask in a study like this. There’s a tangible trade-off between adding ‘just that one more question’ and making the damn thing too long. So you draft. And then re-draft. And then re-draft. And then live with regret for a full 12 months about that-one-thing-you-wished-you’d-asked till the next swing at it.
  2. It’s important to not make it a trial to fill out. No-one wants to spend their time filling out surveys. So you a) have to offer people something you think is meaningful in return and b) make it as interesting as possible to fill out. We’re trying our best on both fronts again.
  3. On that front, I’ve tried my damnedest to squeeze as many different topics as possible into this year’s version. Value for money, tech, CIP design, ESG, DB transfers, at-retirement, The Future, regulation, W**df*rd…it’s all there.
  4. The biggest theme across the survey that permeated through a huge chunk of questions was that advisers are feeling the pain of regulation. I guess that’s largely self-evident given everything that’s been going on but it was interesting to see the extent with which it bled through so many different questions.
  5. My single favourite response last year was when we asked, ‘What one thing would you change about financial services if you had a magic wand?’. One adviser replied by saying he’d ‘recreate the T-100, go back in time and destroy SJP’. I read that out loud at our conference last year and it got a big laugh. I then quipped that I wondered what Sarah Jessica Parker had done to offend him. It got zero laughs. The lesson? Steal other people’s jokes at all times.
  6. Most firms (~85%) were running some form of Centralised Investment Proposition and over half of those firms ran more than one methodology (i.e. running own models, using multi-asset funds, outsourcing to DFM et al)
  7. Back Office systems are by far the most difficult bits of the technology within a firm to disturb. I lied about this driving you wild. I’m sorry. That’s a thing people do to get you to read to the end of these lists. And yer ma’ is the tooth fairy and yer da’ was Santa.
  8. There was almost a clean 50:50 split as to whether MiFID2 was a positive step for the sector. I had expected a much more pessimistic split. I was wrong.
  9. We gave people a list of statements and asked them how best to improve the levels of trust in financial services. Financial education in schools was the number one response and it’s interesting (although early days in terms of sample size) to see that in this year’s version where we ask about remedies for the perceived advice gap, that again, financial education wins. There are plenty of people (who I have a tonne of respect for) who fundamentally disagree with this.
  10. We asked people to describe financial services in three words. Again, we got a brilliant series of answers (including someone who missed their true comedic calling in life by answering “long f*cking surveys”). Grouping them into themes, the 1/2/3 was regulation/complexity/expensive. We’re asking this again and it’ll be interesting to see if that’s shifted.

So, there we have it. The only thing that’s left to say is to ask you very politely if you’d consider giving this year’s version your attention. We’re only a few days in the field and well over 150 members of the advice community (remember, everyone who works in advice, irrespective of role is very, very welcome) have completed it so you’re going to get a huge chunk of insight into what your peers are saying. And that complimentary platform guide.

See you on the other side,