It’s true; while various parts of the country labour under level three, two and even four if you live in the west of Scotland’s Central Belt, your faithful Update exists on a completely different scale. Level 11 allows the Update to travel freely in time and space, raid your drinks cupboard, insult your local sports team and sow discord in the ranks of your favoured political party, all in less time than it takes you to defog your glasses when you walk into the supermarket.

We’re not sure where this power comes from, nor whether it’s a force for good or evil. All we know is that neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night can stay this Update from the swift completion of its appointed round, and there is solace and perhaps great beauty in that.

Interestingly, the denizens, sorry, citizens of Glasgow were offered the chance to have a special lockdown tier which would allow them a travel corridor through to Edinburgh for shopping and culture, or a strict lockdown on level 4 with no-one allowed in or out. 93.4% picked the strict lockdown. True story.*

Speaking of arrant nonsense, flim-flammery and knavery, it may or may not have escaped your attention that the FCA has gone and done a quite remarkable reversy-Percy (don’t worry, that’s not the Urban Dictionary link) on exit fees. Those of you who have had other things on your mind are forgiven: in the Platform Market Study what seems like 200 years or so ago, our friends in high places put down a strong marker that exit fees simply weren’t cricket, and if platforms and ‘comparable services’ didn’t shape up then there would be some detentions being handed out and no mistake.

This is more an issue in the direct platform market than the advised world, but I bet we can all think of one or two ‘comparable services’ who have exit fees, even if they don’t call them that. Anyway, HL and Interactive Investor removed their exit fees, but SJP and others stayed put, and have now been rewarded for so doing.

At the lang cat we don’t go in for reflexive regulator-bashing, but this simply isn’t OK from where we sit in our lovely, Leithy ivory tower. If you want the biggest players still holding out to work against their own commercial interests even a little bit, you’ll have to make them, and the FCA has bottled it here.  It’s one thing to be constrained by impacts of coronavirus on some work programmes; it’s quite another to claim that the market is taking care of the problem when it, y’know, isn’t. A good day for shareholders; a bad day for everyone else.



If we’ve got problems with exit fees, we’ve got bigger ones with the sheer tonnage of greenwash being flung about the place. That’s why it’s a good thing that people are starting to try and put some manners on what has become a ridiculously noisy space. I’ll be interested to see what Morningstar comes up with here.

For our part, we think there are all kinds of problems going on, from definition through to usage; from greenwash to whitewash. So we’re crawling inside the issue, as is our wont. We know it’s a hot topic and we know that flows are increasing. We also know that some of you are starting – just starting – to hear more about it from clients. So we’re doing some research with the public, and some research with advice professionals to delve into what we think are some of the issues. We would really like to hear from you – not so much about whether your usage is increasing or not (though we do ask about that), but what you think of the issues surrounding ESG and how the sector is serving you.

It takes about 10 minutes to tell us what you think. Every respondent will get a special playback of the research findings before the paper itself is published in the New Year, and we will donate £5 to charity for each complete response. That money will be split evenly between the Samaritans and NHS Together.


You can take the survey here. Thanks in advance.



  • HomeGames this week does something we’ve never done before – step outside the industry. As you may know, our Steve Nelson does tireless work advocating for more open discussions on mental health in our industry. This week Steve talks to Eddie Martin, who is the mental health ambassador for Dunfermline Athletic FC (Steve’s home club; coronavirus tier 2; Scottish Championship). Now, if you think it’s hard to talk about this stuff with financial folk, imagine doing it with young footballers. So if you’re up for something different then come join Steve and Eddie here at 12.30pm today, or on the YouTubes
  • I don’t know about football, but Scotland got through to a major tournament for the first time in 22 years, so I’ll have to learn. Nothing to do with finance, just wanted to let you know.
  • You’re not imagining it – it is still tough out there. If you’re having a good time and fighting off new clients, you might be one of the lucky ones.
  • If you’d like a demo of our Platform Analyser, come here at 11am tomorrow and use the secret passphrase “my Update is full of whimsy Matron, may I have another?”**
  • And your music choice this week isn’t Yes Sir I Can Boogie. It is, instead, a new Teenage Fanclub song, which is always something to warm the heart. Even better is that the video for this one was filmed in my beloved Leith Theatre, which is just trying to keep the heating on and desperately needs help. Any spare pennies are appreciated; the Leith Theatre guys are so good that they are even giving a third of the money they raise to homeless charities. Anyway, please do enjoy Home by the evergreen Fannies.

See you next week



*not really

**also not really