My favourite story about Charlie Watts is that apparently during the recording of one of the Rolling Stones’ less celebrated albums in the mid-1970s, he was, er, exploring the further reaches of pharmaceutical assistance and was sleeping the effects off on the floor of the studio. He was woken up by Keith Richards who told him to get off the skag and to save it for when he was older. He took the advice, and lived to tell the tale.

At the point that Keith Richards is telling you to calm it down a bit, you know you’ve pushed through some kind of barrier.

If I was feeling smarter and not feeling my own effects of the very end of a 9-week summer holiday for the kids – 9 long, long weeks – I might try and draw some kind of comparison about Charlie, sitting at the back and doing the simple things well so that Keith and Mick could jump around at the front, and what platforms are meant to do for the advisory sector. But I won’t. I will tell my favourite drummer joke, though. “How do you know when a drummer’s knocking at your door? It speeds up.” But Charlie never did.

Anyway, to business. I normally save stuff about us for the links, but so many folk have been in touch about Tom McPhail coming to join the lang cat that I wanted to say thanks up here (there’s a rumour that some people – not you obviously, but others – may not read all the way down). So it all kicks off next week, and soon we’ll be getting into public affairs and policy on pensions, platforms, advice and investment alongside the PR and comms work we do behind the scenes for many of the names you know. I reckon Tom will also bring a new dimension of competence and professionalism to our own publications; both competence and professionalism will seem odd to us at first but I’m sure we’ll get used to them. Anyway, it was a big day for us when we announced and we really appreciate all the nice words.

And to proper business. During my time off I did a spot of moonlighting and spent some time with one of those private equity firms you read about which is thinking about buying a Thing and giving it a big shot of vitamin B12 in the bahookie. During our conversation we talked about the cyclical nature of the industry and how we seem to be gradually returning to a modern version of the big adviser groups we used to see so much of – we called them networks then but consolidators now – but also about how a new series of walled gardens or ecosystems (if you like the buzzwords) are forming.

The latter is interesting, not least because so many are investing so much in getting these going. We see it in True Potential’s 8% spree. We see it in M&G Wealth picking up firms like Sandringham. It’s there in the Benchmark/SPW arrangement. And it’s certainly there in the FE/Cashcalc deal.

To get that walled garden right – as TP has pretty much done – you need advice (or planning depending on where you shine in), a strong CRM, regulatory support, investment capabilities (not least because this is where the margin is), tools, tech support, and some kind of execution capability. That last one is a hard one for many platforms to get their heads around – with nearly 30 platforms in the market, what happens if a very large part of the adviser population ends up selecting a platform from a dropdown menu at the end of the regulated part of the advice process, which is only 50% of what they do for clients anyway?

It’s a good time to think about how the industry is trying to re-form (it may never reform) itself around the changing face of the part of the sector that actually meets clients. And as part of that, if platforms have been at least in the Bill Wyman or maybe Ronnie Wood seat, whether they now need to climb on that stool and quietly start keeping time at the back. Turns out I wasn’t so tired after all.

ONE TWO THREE FOUR LINKS

  • Big news at Bravura, with long-time CEO Tony Klim stepping down and Nick Parsons – the CTO – stepping in. For those unaware, Bravura underpins FundsNetwork, Ascentric, Nucleus and more out there.
  • It really isn’t fun being a minibond investor.
  • Good piece here from Alistair Cunningham, who may not be able to grow a beard but can write a bit. Should we treat blogsites as financial promotions?
  • And of course it’s a Rolling Stones music choice this week. I know Charlie isn’t the highest profile Stone, but I’m still going to go for my favourite ever Stones track, Gimme Shelter. Here’s a live version, and the only thing wrong with it is that Charlie’s in a t-shirt not a suit. He still looks more suave than you or me ever will though.

See you next week, when #HomeGames will return with motivational speaker and mental health advocate Nick Elston.

Mark