Hello everyone. Well, the week is finally here when I stop punting our annual DeadX conference, because this is the week when we do the conference and then go for a lie down. In fact it’s tomorrow. So my mind is all full of what we’re going to be talking about at The DeadX Talks, and it’s going to spill into the Update this week. The good news is that if you’re not coming along – and I don’t know why you’d allow that to be the case, but it takes all kinds to make a world – this will be like a 3-minute precis of the afternoon, except without the drinks or indeed any sense of occasion.

Our theme this year, as all regular Update readers kno, is value in asset management.  This obviously is a nod to the new regulations in PS 18/8 and COLL (6.6.20R), and I know that we all know those off by heart. But the issue is wider than that. It speaks to who does what for clients and who provides services which make people better off than if they’d stuck their money in the bank.

To unpick this we need to decide what value means. Mainly it’s described…well, poorly. As legion are the inspirational pictures with ‘price is what you pay, value is what you get’ from the Sage of Omaha slapped on them. And similarly legion are the swear words I deploy whenever I see one. But aphorisms only take us so far. If Warren Buffett was sat next to me as I write this – and that would be weird – I reckon he would agree that outside of bumper-sticker world, price is what you pay, and goods and services are what you get. The utility you derive from those goods and services mixed in with the price you pay drives your opinion of them, and that’s what we call value.

If that’s true, it’s not possible for asset managers – or anyone else – to ‘add value’. This mucks up a lot of marketing campaigns. All anyone can do is be really clear (and proud) about what you do for a client, and really clear (and proud) about what you charge. Then you have to shut up and let the client work out how she feels.

And if that’s true, we have to make sure clients know what they are getting and how much it costs, and that’s where the new regs come in. Now, most folk I’ve talked to believe that PS18/8 looks like yet more disclosure that investors will ignore. So it’s business as usual.

But this regulation is cleverer than you think. Coupled up with the governance regime (SM&CR and iNED provisions) I think there will be some real change that will benefit investors. The concept of putting individual backsides in the firing line is a great one in this context. And having to publish a load more information and data is also cool.

It moves us to a position where the asset management sector no longer has an informational advantage. It has a presentational one – lots of this new info will hide away on page 476 of reports and accounts, just like the Vogons’ plans for the destruction of Earth.

It doesn’t matter that clients won’t read this stuff. There are troublemakers who will read it for them and put it in front of them in a way that might make sense. Some of those troublemakers are called ‘advisers’, and they’ve got the back of clients in many ways. Some of those troublemakers might be guys like Justin Basini of Clearscore, who did something similar with Experian data, and who’ll be speaking at DeadX. And some of them might be punchy little companies from the fine Port of Leith.

So that’s the kind of landscape we’ll be cantering around tomorrow. If you’re interested in following it, jump on the Twitter and follow the hashtag #langcatdeadx.


  • How novel is this! No punt for DeadX this week. But if you do have a bit of time spare and you work in an advice firm, we’d love to hear your views on the State Of Things. All respondents get a free copy of our 2019/20 advised platform guide and a warm feeling.
  • Actual lols, possibly rofls, at the larks going on in Stratford. This one will linger, much like the odour in the FCA toilets…
  • I finally read the Nucleus SM&CR paper this week. It’s very good. You can find it here.
  • I like what NMA is doing with good news stories about financial advice and planning. More of this sort of thing.
  • And your music choice this week is, of course, Jane’s Addiction with their incredibly prescient comment on value in asset management. Please enjoy this live version of The Price I Pay, which helpfully also has French subtitles in case you’re discussing PS18/8 over a digestif in Paris at some point.


See you next week