Happy December everyone, a couple of deep breaths and it’ll soon be time to have a break and wave goodbye to another pretty minging year.
In the meantime, though, we have new Stuff to think about and play with! This doesn’t happen so often these days; I remember a time not all that long ago when new propositions were crawling out of the primordial ooze every couple of weeks, or so it seemed at the time, and those of us who engage with the detail of these sorts of things so you don’t have to would race to see who would be first with the write-up. It all feels a bit more relaxed these days, or it might just be that I’m really tired.
As is the way of things, there’s no such concept as a straight-up launch any more. Providers, whether big or small, try to get the hype going with pre-launches, public betas, waitlists and so on. What was wrong with the traditional route of paying a guy with a huge clock to jump around and hype you up is lost on me. So, of our three new offerings, only one is live in living colour; the others are coming soon.
Let’s do the biggest first – Dodl from AJ Bell. As you’ve probably read, this is a mobile-only ‘cut’ of Youinvest with a short investment range of some AJ Bell funds, some trackers from Vanguard and others, some themed offerings and 50 UK shares with some US ones coming on later. So it’s not just house wine you’re forced to drink. The app is its own thing, but the back end is Youinvest (not Adalpha / AJ Bell Touch). I have a Youinvest GIA (along with lots of small GIAs on other platforms that drive my accountant nuts) and the service has always been good on the rare occasions I’ve needed it.
Youinvest is a full-fat trading platform for folk who have at least a partial scooby about investing, so Dodl (not Doddle) is, one assumes, going to be much more approachable, or possibly approachbl. You can fund it using Apple Pay / Google Pay, it’s got a very now brand and AJ Bell is going all out to make it look fluffy and friendly. I like to imagine that Andy Bell shudders and mutters “it’s still grim up North” whenever he wanders past one of the wee monsters (and I should also say it’s good of Andy to give Workie’s extended family a berth).
We won’t know what it’s like to use for a while yet – there’s a *sigh* waitlist – but on first glance this looks quite attractive. It’s cheap at 0.15% (albeit with no Vanguard-style charge cap), it’s got a full range of tax wrappers including a LISA and a pension (which Vanguard didn’t manage at launch), and no ‘commission’ on trading which I think means no trading charges on funds but which might leave the door open for fixed trading charges on shares. That might be wrong though.
This is all good stuff and I like the sound of it, especially for those who don’t cap out on the charge on Vanguard’s platform or who’d like at least a little bit of other stuff from Fidelity, LGIM, iShares and so on. Maybe the most interesting thing, though, is the concept of taking an already fully-featured platform and building a new proposition from it aimed at a clearly segmented target market demographic. If that sounds a bit MiFIDy and PRODy to you then you are thinking the right way. It’s also very 2020s in terms of abstracting a front-end piece of tech away from the grungy, difficult back-end. What with Dodl and Touch, AJ Bell is getting into some proper different stuff; I’ll enjoy seeing how the big advised platforms on one hand and big D2C shops like HL and II on the other counter this.
Also doing that abstracting thing is our second new entrant, Tillit Invest. This has been out on *sigh* beta for a while and is now open for anyone who wants a go. The platform is built off Seccl, which is starting to do a bit of a roaring trade in this sort of thing as well as its adviser-as-platform offering.
Tillit’s positioning is interesting – ‘stop trading, start investing’. This will resonate with planners reading this, of course, but it’s a world away from what Dodl is doing despite being similar in some other respects with a limited investment range, and what looks to be a nice clean user experience (I haven’t opened an account yet, give me a minute). The face of Tillit is Felicia Hjertman, an ex-fund manager from Baillie Gifford, so I’m imagining the business reckons there is an unserved demographic who want a bit of curation from someone involved in active management and are happy to pay for it.
And pay for it they will – Tillit is 0.4% a year, but that drops 0.01% a year down to a minimum of 0.25% after 15 years. The time-based thing is quite fun; I don’t know anyone else doing that and it obviously makes sense from a Tillity point of view to get a bit more revenue through the door in the early years. It’s not quite the same as capital units, but there’s a bit of a shared spike protein in there somewhere…
I think that 0.4% will be hard to defend when (in your full launch week) another curated-range proposition pops out at 0.15%; it also doesn’t have a SIPP or a LISA so it’s just ISA and GIA for now. Nonetheless, fair sailing to Tillit and I’ll be along in a bit to open yet another account to hack my accountant off.
This week also saw a *sigh* sneaky-peeky unveiling of a new adviser CRM / back-office system. It’s called Plannr, because of course it is, and lots of plannrs are very enthused about it. I have scientifically worked out the Venn diagram between ‘people who like Plannr’ and ‘people who laughed about the Abrdn rebrand’ and there is an 83.7% overlap, which just goes to show.
M’colleague Mr Barrett attended the webinar for Plannr and liked what he saw – it brings in lots of make-your-life-easier technologies such as browser extensions to autofill forms (you might recognise these if you use password managers like 1Password or Dashlane), what looks like a good case-file and document management system, a nice client portal and more. It’s from Codepotato’s Gareth Thompson who also does Filehaven and Quotehaven and who we’ve had the pleasure of working with at the lang cat in the past.
Plannr is the latest in a series of CRMs (others include Praemium’s Wealthcraft and Time4Advice) trying to bust the dominance of Intelliflo and IRESS in the adviser market with a streamlined offering aimed at a particular demographic of financial planners who don’t bother with mortgages and stuff like that. Sound familiar from further up the page? You bet.
I love seeing new technologies like this come to market and I hope Gareth does really well with this. I’m sure he will. It does strike me, though, that the big CRMs end up being complex not because the people in them aren’t clever enough to make things simpler, but because doing practice management for advice businesses is just complex. Maybe that’s just legacy thinking, but most planning businesses I know have a legacy long tail of business that lives in that world. Perhaps firms will run two back office systems while the legacy stuff gradually runs off. Anyway, there’s a Kickstarter you can get involved with, and for everyone else it’s £75 per seat per month.
ANOTHER WEE ONE
I’m sneaking this in because it’s my weekly email and you can’t stop me. We launched a new podcast, sorry, podcat this week. It’s called Financial Services Unplugged with Tom McPhail, because it’s hosted by Tom, it’s about financial services and it has a strict ban on any plugging of products or services. Lots of public policy stuff, pensions, investments, ESG and more. It’s also quite a lot funnier than you’d think and is still in possession of all its vowels.
You can find the first three episodes (or ‘eps’ as I think we are now obliged to call them) on our website, on Podbean, on Spotify and soon on Google Play and Apple Podcasts (it takes the latter 14 days to add a new podcast, which feels a bit closed-book-lifeco-valuation-request to me but hey ho) and guests include Tom Selby of AJ Bell, Alastair McQueen of Aviva and Mollie Thornton who is an ESG guru at Parmenion.
LAUNCH THE LINKS
- Third last ever HomeGames this week, and we welcome back Rohan Sivajoti of NextGen Planners to talk about where the profession is going and all the stuff NextGen is up to. Steve is in the chair. Next week is Petronella West from Investment Quorum, and then we’ll finish our 75-show run(!) with a best bits and some dicking around. 30pm as ever, or later on YouTube.
- Really interesting FOS decision here concerning an individual who was advised by an IFA on a SIPP but by someone else on the investments in that SIPP. Worth a read.
- I’m doing a wee session at PA360 North (or South as I like to call it) next week on building a distinctive brand in financial services. Not sure that’s what I’ve done, but if you fancy it there are details here.
- No Christmas music yet, but I think we could all use something nice and upbeat. So here’s the ridiculously talented Mark Tremonti with If Not For You. Sound UP.
See you next week