So here we are, siblings. Happy New Year to all; there didn’t seem much point in doing an Update last week as most of you were still off and there’s only so much you can read about the lack of Hogmanay parties before you end up even more depressed than you were before. (Insert Deity Of Choice) knows I needed the break too.

But we shall not be downbeat as we go into Year Three of the No Fun Decade. It’s a new year, and as we all know, the ticking over of the Gregorian calendar makes all things possible. Gone are the sins of the past; here are the virtues of the now, and every day, in every way, we’re all getting just a little bit more gorgeous, inside and out. Or failing that, nailing enough of the leftover Christmas booze that we think we are, and in this era that’s pretty much the same thing. Although personally I won’t be able to commit an opinion as to whether every day in every day I am getting just a little bit more gorgeous, inside and out, until Sue Gray concludes an independent enquiry into it.

It’s a bit early in the year for anything too momentous to have happened yet, though we did round off 2021 with a late flurry of corporate news, especially Morningstar winning the race for Praemium, and GBST exiting its FNZ tenure in favour of new private equity owners. Both deals snuck in just before sherry time; both look to me to be a good result.

Given the newness of the year, it’s fun to make predictions about what the year will hold. This is our equivalent of tipping which shares will do well and has exactly as much impact. Not that that’s ever stopped us. Here’s a few themes we think you’ll be reading a lot about this year:

  • No let-up in corporate activity – you only think that everyone who could possibly have bought someone has done so by now. Plenty of moves left to make. The really interesting thing here is what impact these deals have on you and your clients – if you’re a premium Platform Analyser subscriber you’ll have got an uncharacteristically interesting impact assessment in December from our very own Mike Barrett, who coincidentally turned 50 yesterday. Happy Birthday Mike. Mike would like you to buy an Analyser subscription for yourself as a birthday present, and maybe one for a colleague too. Don’t let him down.
  • Consumer Duty prep is the new MiFID II – expect to see consternation, push-back, lobbying, denigration, and I can’t remember the names of the other three of Snow Sh*te’s diminutive regulatory companions as firms start to get ready to prove that they’re actually doing the right things by clients and not just shareholders. This is one of those ones that won’t just do an AoV and limp off: it’s got some teeth. This might be the funnest part of 2022.
  • D2C is more vibrant than advised – for all the shenanigans, the platform market really is pretty stable on the intermediated side. D2C on the other hand is as mad as a box of frogs and is terrific fun if you’re into that sort of thing. With the second wave of digital providers (hopefully) learning from the nonsense of the robos, the big guys putting some serious change in place to try and keep up, and everyone checking their lunch every 20 minutes to see if Vanguard has eaten it yet, there’s going to be lots to watch. Generally D2C follows where the advised market leads; this might be the first year that turns around.
  • The reintegration of the sector – you didn’t think the big guys were just going to allow a bunch of wee providers and adviser firms to run riot around the place having fun and innovating did you? Dearie me, no. We’re all vertically integrated now and the real question is for whose benefit? 2022 might look awfy like 2002 if we’re not careful and all that work about putting the adviser at the heart of the universe might start to gradually fade away.
  • Prizes are only given to those who show their work – sort-of linked to the Consumer Duty thing, we reckon pressure will grow on firms to draw much more explicit lines of suitability from client needs through to the constituent parts of the solution you put in place. It’s been there in platforms for a while, but expect similar pressure for CIPs in one form or another, and particularly where you hand responsibility for running money on to a DFM. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, eh big man?

Maybe this is all mince. We’ll find out, and we’ll tell you all about it every Wednesday and – if you’ve been very good – at other times too. Let the No Fun Times begin!

START IT THE RIGHT WAY

A quick punt if I may – we are going for it and pressing on with our 2022 flagship event. #langcatlive takes place on 10 February at the glorious BAFTA theatre on Piccadilly in formerly fashionable London. It’s the biggest event we’ve ever put on by some distance, and we’ve got some brilliant speakers including Guy Opperman MP who is Minister for Pensions and who is in the news for small pots this week. We’ve got Claer Barrett, consumer editor of the FT, running a question time panel with a suspiciously familiar format. And we’ve got Dave Ferguson, formerly of Nucleus, looking at the industry he worked so hard to disrupt and seeing if the wheel really has gone full circle.

We’ve got more stuff too, but no more space here, so hop on over to the events page and bag a ticket. It’s a hybrid event so if you’d rather watch it in your jammies or you don’t fancy travelling, we’ve got your back.

NEW YEAR, SAME LINKS

  • May I commend our new(ish) podcast, sorry, podcat series to your ears? It’s called Financial Services Unplugged with Tom McPhail, because it’s Tom’s baby and there is no product plugging in it. New episodes go up weekly-ish, and we’ve just gone through 1,000 downloads which isn’t a lot if you’re Joe Rogan but is a good start. Available wherever you get your podcasts, but mainly here.
  • Interesting bit on investment company usage last year here – up to a five-year high, much like Mike Barrett in the raving years.
  • Here’s that bit on small pots protection – feels like a good thing.
  • And your music choice this week gets the year off to a strong albeit non-metallic start with Glasgow stalwarts Twin Atlantic who’ve just put a new record out, and excellent it is too. Bang on the Gong is very funny, but contains strong language from the outset, as they say. You have been warned. You can expect a dose of the metals next week.

 

Be good, see you then

Mark