It’s a peculiarly British thing, I think, to go to hot places and then to complain about how hot they are. I can only assume that the Universe has a sense of humour, as most of you forego your trips to wherever it may be, that it has chosen 2020, The Year That Officially Sucks Harder Than Any Other (TYTOSHTAO) to bless you with a heatwave that would make Tangiers blush. As one feline remarked on our call this morning, it’s amazing how many London clients have opted to turn their video off on Teams and Zoom calls in the last couple of days. Meanwhile up here it’s been wet but is now a balmy 18 degrees, the perfect Scottish temperature between ‘jumpers oan’ and ‘taps aff’.

I’ll make this week’s Update relatively brief because you’re about 80% on holiday, and if you live up here and you have kids then they’re probably going back to school right about now. We’ll see how all that works out, but there are A LOT of relieved parents right now.


After a week off settling in Wilf, the new, entirely off-brand lang dug, I’ve finally had a minute to look at the FCA adviser market numbers for 2019. As ever with these numbers, you’ve got to take your time with them and strip out some of the knucklehead stuff, but when you do there is gold to be panned.

I’m particularly interested in what we might call ‘signal v noise’. That is to say, there are issues which the sector shouts about, writes about and – if you work for a big consulting firm – creates intricate PowerPoint slides about with many interesting arrows and boxes, which aren’t quite as acute as you might think when you give the data a hard stare.

Here’s one – we all know that consolidation continues apace, and we must surely be at some kind of Hubbert-style tipping point where there simply aren’t that many more firms to buy. Well, slow down there Nigel Mansell, what’s this? Can it be that nearly 90% of firms still have five or fewer advisers? Yes, yes it can. Some have been bought and are still posting as small firms to be sure, but there is plenty of juice left. There are only 45 firms in the UK with more than 50 advisers.

Here’s another – we all know PII is crippling the sector, right? It’s no fun, but the typical premium paid by medium-sized ‘financial adviser’ firms with £500k to £10m revenue, which is most of you reading this, is 3.3% of revenue according to the figures you’ve sent back to Auntie and the average across the whole market is 2.3%. That was up from 2% from the year before, so those eye-catching 100% increases can’t be universal (not that that helps if you’ve had one of them).

And here’s a third – that the restricted firms with their vertically integrated Borg-style propositions are snaffling the potential market out there. Hate to *pop!* burst your bubble there, but in 2016 66.9% of adviser charge revenue was from independent firms, and in 2019 that figure was 62.4%. So yes, there’s an increase, but that looks like an independent sector which is doing absolutely fine to me.

There are loads more hiding in the reds and pinks on the FCA site – it’s worth taking some time to parse the stats. None of this changes your lived experience on a day to day basis, but if you want to know if that experience is typical of the sector or if you are indeed a very beautiful, unique snowflake, then there’s lots to play with. Some of the things we take as axiomatic truths…just aren’t.


  • Please proceed with all haste to our beautiful new dedicated Platform Analyser website. It’s got intro videos! Details of what Analyser does! Pictures of cats! And more. You will find it at and we would love you to come and say hi, though not as much as we’d love you to give it a try, even at the free level.
  • Talking of Analyser, we’re doing a free demo next Thursday (20 August) at 11am where we’ll show anyone who’s interested the new pricing engine we launched the other week. All welcome – just register here. This one doesn’t get put up on YouTube so you’ll need to come along at the appointed time and place.
  • HomeGames this week is a belter. Steve Nelson, the lang cat’s Insight Director, has the AWARD-WINNING JOURNALIST Ollie Smith from yon Citywire on, and their subject will be the role of the trade media in our rapidly-evolving times. So if you want to make a point about why there’s so little good news about the sector, or to challenge Ollie (who is a top guy so be nice) in any way, you need to come here at 12.30pm today. This one will go up on YouTube later here, but it’s too late by then.
  • Good piece on platform share prices here from Mr MainlyIn Cash at Money Marketing.
  • And your music choice this week is in memory of the producer and engineer Martin Birch, who died the other day. He was responsible for a huge amount of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, from Deep Purple to Sabbath to Maiden. I’ve been relistening to lots of his stuff and it’s astonishing how good it sounds even now, from a time when everything was done on tape and Pro Tools was the stuff of a madman’s dreams. Spoilt for choice, and I was going to go Heaven and Hell by Sabbath, but instead I wanted to do a track from the very first Birch album I ever heard. Here’s 2 Minutes To Midnight by Iron Maiden, and you are very welcome.

See you next week