And so back to school they go, trusting that the grown-ups have got it right and that we all know what we are doing. If there was ever a more powerful example of the naivety of childhood then I’d love to see it.

Up here beyond the Wall we’ve been back for a bit, and for what it’s worth the lang kittens have got right back into it with no problems at all. This may have more to do with them being delighted and relieved to escape my parenting for at least a few hours a day, however. I hope your young’uns, if you have them, are similarly blithe.

We can deal with all sorts of things changing with no problems at all. It’s when the fundamentals – the things we don’t question or worry about day to day – shift that life really seems different and Messrs Kubler and Ross start getting cited by people who did a course once.

Now that we’re (hopefully, please) getting back to at least a facsimile of what we perceive as normal life, it might be a good time to think about what fundamentals in our sector have shifted – not necessarily as a result of the Current Unpleasantness, but from the last few years of regulation and normal course of business.

The fundamental I’m thinking about is suitability. We used to call this ‘best advice’, or ‘better than best advice’ if you were selling your own kit. Now it’s suitability, and the job is to demonstrate why what you’re using is a) suitable in itself and b) more suitable than other things you could have used.

(Obviously this has nothing to do with financial planning, but it does have stuff to do with SM&CR, PROD, MiFID II and all the stuff that gets you banged up in the stripy hole if you ignore it in a way that the minibond scammers inexplicably don’t.)

Anyway, I’ve been spending some time over the last wee while thinking about suitability and its demonstration more broadly. I think there is a way to do this in a fashion that doesn’t mean you spend every waking hour on it, which done right should give good client outcomes, and which keeps the Feds off your back. It’s an adaptation and formalisation of what many firms do now, and it’s not effort-free, but I think it works.

It’s a two-stage process; one of which sets the ground rules and the other of which gets down and dirty with what we must, I suppose, call ‘due diligence’. As is often the way with these kinds of things, it breaks down into a number of repeatable steps – five for the first bit and seven for the second.

Having spent a load of time thinking about all this during the summer doldrums and hiding from the kids in the basement, I thought maybe I should write it up. So I did, and the result is a paper which can be read here (opens flipbook).

It’s called Let The Suitable One(s) In because vampirism is cool and it’s completely free. This one isn’t a sponsored thing, it’s just our best thoughts on a way through an area which has, in a boiling-a-frog sort of way, changed beyond recognition over the last decade. Hope you like it, or hate it, but at least read it.


  • Can’t let this week go by without saluting Ian Taylor once again (see my original salute here). It’s Ian’s market, we just muck around in it.
  • Exit Royal London, enter M&G – that’s the Ascentric deal done and we admit to feeling quietly optimistic for its future in its new home.
  • Talking of corporate activities, how’s about a new £45bn or so wealth manager on the block? Tilney and Smith & Williamson have finished their conscious coupling (ewww) and suddenly the wealth management market is looking like a much more interesting place.
  • HomeGames this week – we’re whatever the Australian slang is for very excited to be welcoming Verona Kenny of Seven IM to the guest seat. Verona is always brilliant and knows more about the guts of the sector than any other 328 people you care to name except maybe Ian Taylor. Come join us at 12.30pm here or watch again later on our YouTube channel here. Oh, next week’s guest is Phil Young, but don’t let that put you off.
  • We’re pleased to say that Platform Analyser now includes True Potential – one of the big missing providers that many of you have asked for. Come see all about it here. Fusion: we’re coming for you next…
  • And your music choice this week might just be the thing that saves 2020. There’s a new Arab Strap single. I’ll let that sink in. THERE’S A NEW ARAB STRAP SINGLE. It’s called The Turning Of Our Bones. So this week’s music choice is the new Arab Strap single called The Turning Of Our Bones. It’s so good it might be next week’s as well.

See you next week