Some confusion here at the lang cat’s Secondary Port Authority as everyone else marks their year of lockdown this week, whereas ours was last week. Maybe we’re just even more antisocial than everyone else. Whichever is the case, this is as good a time as any to send a cloud of positive vibe-filled ethereal psychic butterflies out from Edinburgh’s waterfront to wherever you are.

One anniversary we are marking is our weekly HomeGames webinar, which is a year old this week. This is episode 44 – lazy old us had 8 weeks off over the year – and it’s grown into something we never expected. To be honest, while doing it has sometimes felt like a schlep and it’s stressful when internet connections go down, the process of inviting folk on and hearing from them about what’s going on in their world has been a real ray of light for us.

If you haven’t dipped in, the link above takes you to all the past episodes. No-one’s selling anything, no-one pays to be on it and there is no real agenda other than a diverting 45 minutes on a Wednesday lunchtime. A few of my favourites: Andy Bell, John Rowland (who’ll be on again in a few weeks), Kathryn Knowles, Lisa Johnstone and Paul Feeney.

If you fancy joining this week, it’s Will Robins, editor of New Model Adviser, who’ll be talking to Intergalactic Planetary Personality of the Year Steve Nelson about his experience of being a client of a financial planner, and gardening. It’ll be better than it sounds. Kidding. It’ll be ace. Come join us here at 12.30pm.

All that done, we should remark on AJ Bell’s acquisition of mobile-first adviser platform Adalpha. I met the Adalpha guys in a pub – remember them? – off the Old Street Roundabout about a year and a half ago and was well impressed. For those unaware, Dave Tanner, the CEO, and some of the other guys are among those who originally set up Parmenion with Richard Mein way back in the day. From what I saw then, and once on a wee demo last year, the same clarity of thought that led many firms to really like Parmenion is there again in Adalpha.

At least one or two of you (hi!) are thinking “huh, no big deal Mark, you can use an iPad like a laptop now, who needs a mobile-first platform?” and I’ll defend to the death your right to be wrong about that. What I like about Adalpha (it isn’t a client by the way) is that it’s worked out that if a platform is really going to work on mobile then you have to reinvent processes from the ground up. It’s like a massive game of three-dimensional Consequences, or something.

Of course, there are other platforms pushing things on in terms of automation and process improvement – like Seccl through P1, Fundment, Praemium with its AI engine, even True Potential’s ecosystem – but all of these still have desktop front of mind, because that’s how nearly all advisers work just now. That’s valuable, and probably has greater commercial application at the present time. So it’s good to have someone doing this other work.

Building something like Adalpha properly takes time and isn’t cheap, so I’m pleased its future is secured. Why I think it’s important that it keeps doing what it’s doing isn’t because I think it will take over from existing platforms and suddenly be a £100bn behemoth. It’s because someone needs to do this work to show what can be done and be a rising tide that will lift all boats (or the seaworthy ones, anyway). A radical mobile-first reimagining of core platform processes sounds like a Good Thing to me. I expect many providers to be trying to peek through the windows of AJ Bell Towers to see what’s going on in the months to come.

IMMOBILE LINKS

  • Can we now, please, irrevocably and forever, stop banging on with #marketing scare stories about higher rate tax relief getting removed? This stopped clock hasn’t been right in 20 years.
  • Wee punt – our annual platform guide will be out in a week or so. If you’re an adviser firm the only way you can get it this year – and from now on – is to be a premium subscriber to Platform Analyser. You can sort that out here.
  • Good piece by Selin Bucak here on PE deals in the advice sector.
  • And your music choice today is a lovely thing by Eliza Shaddad, who Steve and I once saw supporting Turin Brakes at a gig (remember them?) and were blown away by. Here’s her new song, Blossom, which is full of spring and other good things. Her 2018 album, Future, is also totally worth a listen.

See you next week

Mark