Over the last year, the TCWU has become as much a public service as a fascinating, erudite, entertaining and above all indispensable companion to your hoisin duck wrap or whatever on a Wednesday lunchtime. This is objectively true; inasmuch as the TCWU is any of those things, it is also a public service. The exact quantum of how much of any of those things it is, however, is entirely up to you.

Still and all, it’s 29/1 which means that you need to pay your tax tomorrow or Friday at the latest, and I wouldn’t leave it till the last minute. Those of you who truly are rock and rollers may well be leaving calculating your tax until then, in which case I salute you and have nothing further that you need. You’re already complete.

Anyway, some aeons ago for a project I set up a bunch of test accounts on direct platforms and I’ve been quietly running them ever since. This year, my accountant lost patience with 15 or so ver’ small GIA accounts – one of which currently has £56.18 in it – and made me promise to get rid of the bulk of them by the admittedly artificial deadline of 31/1. I’m not doing them all – get that right round ye, Mrs Accountant – but I did pick half a dozen of the less interesting ones, and set about getting my money back out.

Well, what a palaver. Most needed a phone call; two then referred me to customer retention (I did ask whether trying to save my £56.18 was really worth the candle, and the answer was yes, yes it was, Mr Polson, yes.) One lot told me I couldn’t have my money back until I was 55; you would have been proud of how gently I pointed out I had a GIA not a pension with them. “Oh,” said the nice lady, “in that case just send us a secure message with your bank details on it and we’ll get that and type it in and then when that’s done send us another message saying you want your money out and we’ll process that.” I’m thinking of doing an in specie transfer just because it’s easier.

I mention this not because most of you care about direct platforms – though we are working on our 2020 ISA direct guides at the moment – but because it may hearten you to know that the awful admin and processes you often encounter in adviserworld are given some competition by the direct world, who really should know better. It’s like some kind of twisted competition with this lot.


Big news from Southampton – the first big tranche of advisers – as opposed to a tranche of big advisers – will be ready to rock and roll on the fabled new Quilter platform in just a few weeks as The World’s Longest Replatforming™ rolls to an end. I’m glad they’ve done it that way because deciding who would go first on the basis of physical girth would just be wrong.

Anyway, it’s some IFAs moving just now – Intrinsic flavoured advisers go later – and about £4.5bn will be shifting from the old home to the new FNZ-based kit. We are of course watching with interest and hope for everyone’s sake that it goes smoothly. From what I hear, I think Quilter has learned from the, er, unfortunate experiences of others and is man-marking every single firm moving over in this tranche, right down to putting a bod in each adviser office when it happens. Whether said bods are being issued with pads and a helmet or at least a jotter for down the back of their breeks is another matter.

What do we have to say about this very long, storied replatforming process? Not much, really. What’s done is done; there’s limited lulz to be had in pointing out that Quilter has spent a bajillion quid on replatforming, because everyone knows that already. Should they have? No. Does it matter any more? No.

Now it’s all about execution, and support, and administration. Here’s where people can get hurt; where folk can’t get their money out for more serious things than because their accountant has told them to for an easier life.


  • All Quilter all the time this week – not only has it got £20m in its warchest for buying smaller advice firms, it’s also maybe-perhaps being eyed up by Warburg Pincus in its own right. This is getting like The Day Louis Got Eaten. I think that makes Quilter a Grabular, but I’m not sure.
  • If you liked the story about the toilets, you’ll love this one about the pension scheme.
  • Obligatory punt – our 2020 platform guide would love to find a home in your filing system, and if you fancy an awesome event in Scotland then we have one. Both priced to own, etc.
  • And your music choice this week is in honour of the head of PR for one platform, who told me I should have more music that appeals to women, and then suggested Taylor Swift. I’m going to go ahead and assume that female readers of the Update have all their critical faculties intact, but I take her point. So – whatever gender you may be or none – please do enjoy the luminous La Marcheuse by Christine and the Queens. But you’re getting death metal next week. Female-fronted death metal.

See you then.