Week 478 in the Big Brother House, and tempers are starting to fray, as Nasty Nick spends all the housemates’ budget on an artisan-made 1kg chocolate egg, whereas Kinga and the rest of the housemates are keen to load up on Buttons ones.

And if you think I didn’t have to look up the names of Big Brother contestants then you are very much mistaken.

How are we all doing? Incredibly it’s week 3 of lockdown – did any shrewdies have a crafty tenner on it lasting longer? – and for the first time in a month or so I’m getting a bit of a sense of the ‘new normal’ that all the hot takes were talking about in the first few days actually asserting itself. This week there’s a bit of a sense of the industry saying “right, might as well get on with this then”, and firing up the laptop. That must be a good thing.

Talking of laptops, I did a webinar yesterday with Aviva on its operational response to the Current Unpleasantness, and it turns out their IT guys had to build 4,000 laptops quick smart so everyone could work from home, which they did in a week or so. Four thousand. Can you imagine? It took me an afternoon to sort one for my daughter. Also, there’s been a shortage of laptops in the UK recently (or so says our IT company) so now you know whose fault that is.


In the spirit of getting on with it, we should have a look at the FCA’s business plan, which it published this week. Quick plug for this week’s #HomeGames webinar – we’ll cover this in more detail at half twelve, or rather your friend and mine Mr DJ Michael Barrett, the nation’s favourite regulator whisperer will. You can come join us here and you can find the business plan here.

Imogen Tew at FT Adviser has been and went and gone and done an excellent run-down of the things in the plan that will most affect you here. For my part, the bits that I find most interesting are about the culture and focus of regulation in the years to come. Here’s a quote:

“The current framework is too focused on rules and process, and not enough on principles and outcomes. We see far too many resources devoted to redress and remediation, and not enough to empowering consumers to take good decisions and regulatory action to prevent harm and safeguarding consumers’ financial wellbeing.”

That sounds good, doesn’t it? We want principles, not rules. And we would rather have a regulator that is interested in good outcomes for consumers rather than box-ticking. But be careful what you wish for, kids.  You want consumer empowerment and caveat emptor? The FCA will be running a “consumer harm campaign” to help them avoid sadface investment decisions, and you’ll be paying for it. You want principles not rules? Okey-dokey, boss. The regulator will concentrate on the cultural aspects of SM&CR and wants to ensure that “…firms have higher standards of governance, a stronger grip over networks of individuals in their distribution chains and that the regulatory system can better tackle the significant cost of misconduct we see in this market.” This doesn’t read like business as usual to me.

For an organisation that doesn’t do things quickly, the FCA has done a solid job in getting a corona-relevant document out. It’s clear it’s had to think fast and carefully about the impact of the Current Unpleasantness on its business plan. But don’t think that it’s going to soft-pedal. I think I read a toughening up here – albeit with a change of focus that those who agree outcomes not process matter most will find palatable.

Anyway, if you’re bored of trying to limit screen time for the kids, have a read of the business plan. It’s worth it.


  • I’m joking. They are, of course. But what isn’t is when, er, specialist material turns up out of nowhere on your Zoom call. This is my favourite article for really quite some time, and although everyone’s too polite to say it, I suspect the quality of the webinar was enriched immeasurably.
  • A little punt for our stuff, if you’ll allow – Platform Analyser has had a load of updates, including a new Adviser Briefing quarterly market roundup, including all new developments from platforms, key AUA stats and loads more. All part of the service for premium users (free users get a cut-down version of Analyser but don’t get the Briefing); 7-day free trial available. Go here, and that right quickly.
  • If you fancy doing some virtual chatting with some real drinking, then I heartily recommend Octo’s Virtual Pub Crawl, today at 5pm. Join the Crawl here.
  • It’s that time again when we want to hear from you about how platforms are serving you. This quarter is particularly important given the Current Unpleasantness. So please do take a moment to rate the platforms you use here.
  • And your music choice celebrates the fact that there’s a new Testament record out! I know, right? For those unaware, Testament should always have been part of the Big 4 of thrash metal instead of Megadeth, who played whiny speed metal at the best of times. Anyway, Children Of The Next Level is 6 minutes of pure joy and a great animated video too. Honestly, give it a bash.

See you next week