Two things to cover this week – one industry-related and one important.
First up, you might have spotted that Tenet has changed its deal with Hubwise. It used to have a white-label, adviser-as-platform deal which saw it do the admin and as a result split the platform fees with the Hubwise guys. Now Tenet has handed the admin duties back to Hubwise and told it that it can keep all the platform fees. Under the hood that means that Tenet Platform Services Ltd, which was an appointed rep of Hubwise, now repatriates to Hubwise itself.
This rather reminds me of the Novia/Aegon admin deal way back in 2013/14. Those prelapsarian times seem an awful long way away now, don’t they? The key point is that platform admin isn’t easy. It is fiddly, involved and has to be done right, ideally by people who want to do it and run by people who want to own it. I can imagine that somewhere inside Tenet’s collective cranium, the concept of boofling around with disaggregation line breaks, ISA void and repair and all the rest of it sat a bit uncomfortably with the idea of giving advice and getting paid for it.
I’ve written on the adviser-as-platform approach before, and every time I’ve made the point that if you are going to take revenue for being a platform operator, you are going to have to actually operate the platform.
Once you’ve decided to do that, it’s a straight up arithmetical fight. Let’s say you need 10 back and middle office staff to operate the platform, and that costs you, fully loaded, £350k a year. And let’s say you can take five basis points off the top for your pains. You’ll be needing £700m on the platform to pay for that, and if you are taking straight basis points, you’ll be taking the risk of that revenue dropping during market drawdowns. You’ll also have additional PI, staff turnover (which is often high in admin functions), training and all the rest of it.
The idea of being able to add a revenue stream is always seductive. But most firms I’ve seen look seriously at it have retreated on the basis of a) not having the skills and b) not fancying the financial risk. It is no longer the case that you can only access very low cost platform services by doing adviser-as-platform – the magic 0.15% is out there if you can shape your own processes to fit the providers offering it. The challenger platforms know that costs need to come down and they need to offer services that support ‘normal’ advice firms, including those a fraction of the size of Tenet. The question will be – how do the incumbents react?
IT’S OK TO BE NOT OK
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, so it’s as good a time as any to suggest that you look after yourself and also check in on those around you. I see a lot of braggadocio out there about how well folk are coping with lockdown, and how burgeoning their businesses are as a result of it (please burgeon responsibly, and at a safe distance). Most of this is a coping mechanism, and a misplaced sense that to be honest about the impacts of these extraordinary times if things are less than great will show weakness, which will lead to, I dunno, predatory supercapitalists setting up camp in your garden and stealing the rings from your fingers or something. The converse is true, of course: real strength comes from being honest.
Someone who has consistently shown real strength in this regard is Paul Feeney, CEO of Quilter, who has spoken openly about his own issues and has led the charge to break the taboo around discussing this crucial subject (and let’s hope ridiculous compliance concerns don’t get in the way). We couldn’t quite line it up for this week, but I’m really pleased that Paul will come and join us on HomeGames the week after next to talk about all this. Register here.
Our house charity at the lang cat is the Samaritans, and if you are lucky to have a few quid spare, you couldn’t find a more deserving home for it. No-one bangs pots and pans on a Thursday for the folk who volunteer to listen to those having their darkest times at 3am on a rainy night, but what they do is incredible, essential and worthy of your support.
The theme of this Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘kindness’, and the Samaritans have launched a self-help app to go alongside this. Maybe you might get something from it; maybe someone you know would. Their number is 116 123 and you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll also be taking part in the Samarathon in July and will be noising you up for cash relentlessly at that point. But if you just want to bung the Samaritans some straight-up money then here’s a good place.
- That was a bit of an epic, so I’ll keep these short. We’ve got Nicola Ellis of Wellington Wealth on HomeGames today – her firm does a brilliant job with client segmentation. Definitely worth tuning in at 12.30. If you can’t watch, the same link takes you to recordings of all the past HomeGames, and we’ll shortly launch a YouTube channel with them all on too.
- This win for Carey Pensions on SIPP operator responsibilities is big news for the sector. Execution only means just that, kids.
- SJP just got all price-sensitive lol.
- And your music choice this week is the lead track off the new record by British doom titans Paradise Lost. I’m not sure you’re meant to enjoy Darker Thoughts, but it’s a wonderful use of five minutes and 42 seconds of your time.
See you next week. Be kind in the meantime.