So here we are, and here it is, and I hope you managed to mark the passing of midwinter in the way that makes most spiritual and cultural sense to you. I personally learned some interesting lessons about what happens the next day when you let an 8-year old stay up till 4.15am on Hogmanay. Every day’s a school day.

It was unreasonable to think that the passing of a couple of weeks, even one which trips across a meaningful if arbitrarily assigned date, would change anything very much. Even the usual desperate clamour of ‘New Year New You’ guff felt more hollow this year; as if the marketing degree-holding zombie army which normally spews it out in a torrent of tarry, bitter black bile for the credulous to lap up like a kitten with a saucer of evil milk that will eat it alive from the inside didn’t really have their hearts in it.

But we go on, with an unreasonable amount of the planet on fire and Morrigan cracking her knuckles and doing lunges to warm up. Any cultists who didn’t off themselves in December 2012 might be forgiven for checking their end-of-world myth texts. Some of us try to shine a light by favouring plant-based sustenance for a while; others by eschewing drinks which contain the excrement of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. These are valid and worthy fractalesque Gaian attempts – by improving ourselves we improve the world. Good luck with it all. Me, I’m just going to try and write my way out of it.


Not a huge amount to Update you on for obvious reasons, but what lulz there have been take us back to #thatfund and the shenanigans surrounding it. Daniel Grote, who had the story with him, reports here that Big Nelly and Craigy Boy managed to trouser £14m of dividends out of a £16.3m net profit in 2018/19. That’s an interesting figure – not much as a percentage left in the business for reinvestment – and either shows that these two had total confidence in the ongoing potential of the Wodinford (pagan version) business or the total opposite. Pick which one is more pleasing to you.

The contagion of what I suppose is tall-poppy syndrome of a sort is spreading over to Cavendish Square with even the red in tooth and claw Times taking a pop at Terry Smith’s £16.2m dividend and noting that his group sent £116m off to its subsidiary in Mauritius which does admin and research for the fund management business. How much research and admin can you get for £116m? I’m going to go ahead and guess the answer is ‘quite a lot’.

Anyway, in a triumph of doublethink and ignoring the results of the other big thing that happened in December, there’s lots of burbling from even the more reliably right-dressing commentariat around whether the financial industry is broken, or whether we need to move to a more responsible form of capitalism as it pertains to the ISA savings of the journalist writing that particular column. A kinder, gentler capitalism. A capitalism which washes whiter, drops your arterial age and sorts your recycling. I say again: good luck with that.

There is one thing that strikes me, though, which I’ll leave you to ponder as you get back up to racing speed over the next week. So many advisers – and providers, and fund managers – have said to me over the years that investors don’t check under the hood. They are just happy to see graphs going up and to the right and as long as that happens then it’s all good and we don’t need to overthink it. I wonder how many stories like the ones above and how many rolling 30-day periods with graphs going down and to the right it takes for that not to be true any more? Welcome to the No Fun Decade, friends…


Get! The! Decade! Off! To! A! Great! Start! By! Buying! Our! New! Thing!

Oh, it’s exhausting. I can’t do it.

Look, the new lang cat annual advised platform Guide came out just before Christmas, which is a stupid time to launch it but that’s when it was ready. It’s 72 pages or so of extreme platform data, analysis, nerdiness and only a few cat jokes. We’ve even had to stop taking the rip out of Standard Life’s charging structure. This is truly the No Fun Decade.

If you’re a sort of normal-sized adviser firm (about 10 or fewer RIs) then it’s yours for £200 plus the tax. You’ll need a discount code to get that rate which I’ll happily supply if you email me on [email protected] or DM me on Twitter. We’re having to do the code because we charge big firms, providers, fund managers with Mauritian admin-based subsidiaries, private banks and others more than £200, and a disproportionate number of them had a bash at checking out at the adviser rate last year, having ignored the carefully written honour system written in bold right next to the checkout. Turns out honour systems don’t work for private banks. Who knew? I just don’t have the time to argue with them this year, so discount codes it is.

You can buy the Guide here, thank you please.


  • Also new from us – and open for business very soon – is our new Platform Analyser tool. It is the absolute business and we’re very proud of it. If you’d like to know more then go here and we’ll tell you when it’s ready.
  • All together… ‘the angel GABRIEL from Canary Wharf came / His wings as drifted snow / His eyes as flame / All Hail said he / I’m soon to be redu-un-dant / Because of advanced data analytics in Stra-at-ford’. Not sure that works. Anyway, the FCA has said big data isn’t just for Dominic Cummings, and it’ll be interesting to see how this all shakes out. Hands up who’ll miss GABRIEL? Anyone? Bueller?
  • And your music choice to kick us off this week is surely the best way to greet the No Fun Decade. Please skank responsibly to House of Fun by Madness.

See you next week