Were you in? On #GME? And Dogcoin? Were ya? I’m proud to say that I took all the cash we’ve built up in the lang cat over the last 10 years, and SPANKED it straight on these STONKS because that’s what RoaringKitty told me to do.

No, I didn’t, and neither did you (though Mark Locke’s son would have liked him to). And it’s a bit bad and a bit silly and some people will lose some money and that’s sad. But I must admit peering over the fence from my beige sensibly asset-allocated globally diversified basket of beige low-cost passives held in a beige low-cost custody service and just feeling a wee bit jealous about how much fun everyone was having. Then this happened as a result of this and I wasn’t jealous any more.

It’s still too early to publish full stats on how the platform – and by extension much of the adviser market – performed in Q4 2020. Some listed businesses are still under embargo until their announcements go out and a few haven’t ponied up their figures yet. But in general the platformz have been good about getting data to us this quarter, so we’re ready to call how the Year That We Wish We Could Forget (part 1) ended.

And the answer is pretty well. There was some lumpiness; platforms who report institutional flows in with retail had some large movements as happens from time to time. All will become clear for those who subscribe to our quarterly market briefing as part of their premium Platform Analyser license. (That’s how you do #marketing, kids).

But overall the halcyon days of Q4 were decent. If you remember back to the pre-Christmas period, there were some signs of optimism, and even if there weren’t there was such a sense of ennui that I think a bunch of clients stopped sitting comfily on their lovely bumferlies and got on with doing stuff.

We’ve already seen good results from a number of firms including Nucleus (who did more in December than all of Q3), AJ Bell and Transact. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that our estimate for the total market movement in Q4 is pretty bullish.

We predict that the total AUA held by the platforms we cover will rise to around £617bn, a rise of 7% on the last quarter.  The advised AUA – the stuff you write – will rise to just under £500bn (probably £497bn or so) – a rise of about 7.5%. You know what they say – half a trillion here, half a trillion there, soon adds up to real money.

In terms of flows, it’s a big change. Q3 was pretty horrid, so Q4 was sort of a rebalancing quarter. We show gross flows across all channels for the platforms we cover rising by about 20%. That bumps the quarter up to £26bn or so in gross inflows, with the advised channel being responsible for about £16bn of that.

Nets are a bit harder to call. That lumpiness will show in the non-advised channel, but based on the advised channel we think we’ll see about a 24% improvement on Q3, with about £7bn of net inflow.

So not enough to turn our listed platforms into STONKS, but pretty good nonetheless.

EMERGENT SOMNAMBULISTS GYRATE

Last week we launched our new ESG paper – Crossing The ESG Event Horizon: An Adviser’s Guide – and…wow. We didn’t expect quite as much interest as we got. Several hundred folk jumped on the launch event – which you can watch back on our YouTube channel here – and over 1,000 read the paper in just a few days after its release.

There’s a bunch of adviser and end client research in the paper which is a good read in itself. But what I think Steve Nelson, who did the writing on it, really nailed was the disconnects that are happening in this hottest of hot topics. There’s a disconnect between the industry going into manufacturing mode and a proper understanding of how to address the space. There’s a tension between manufacturing CIPs and accommodating individual requirements for clients who aren’t lucky to have huge portfolios. And there’s a tension between letting clients invest with their conscience and ensuring they’re properly globally diversified in a beige sort of way. There are no atheists in foxholes; if we hit the skids on the markets it will be interesting to see how long investors’ principles hold.

Anyway, the paper is here – do have a read and we hope you like it.

HERE FOR YOUR LINKS

  • HomeGames is back this week. Our guest is Roland Rawicz-Sczerbo from Time4Advice who is a stunt pilot and in his spare time just got bought by Transact. Roland is great; the Tasmanian Devil of the sector, and I can’t wait to interview him. 30pm, here. Do tune in, but if you can’t you can watch later here.
  • We’re more organised than usual, so we can tell you about upcoming HomeGames for the next few weeks. Next week is Andy Bell of, er, AJ Bell. The week after that is Clémence Chatelin – senior financial planner and sustainable investing specialist at Paradigm Norton. And the week after that is Martin Jennings, CEO of yon Parmenion. Phew! You can book onto all of these now, and we heartily suggest you do.
  • If you like your podcasts, pop over to Jon JB Beckett’s new New Fund Order podcast – a break from the norm. I’ll be on it next week, but despite that it’s a welcome breath of fresh air.
  • Very good news on buy now pay later schemes like Klarna. They don’t like it up ‘em…
  • And your music choice this week is stonking in its own right. Even if you don’t like heavy music, you might like this, especially if you’re a sucker for a massive chorus. Please enjoy the Swedish-prog-metal-it’s-ok-to-like Soen’s Lumerian, from their new record. It’s good to try new things.

See you next week. We HOLD in our DIAMOND HANDS until we go OFF THE CLIFF.

Mark