In amongst the permacrisis, a ray of light at the lang cat Port Authority yesterday. Most of the team – which incredibly numbers 21 now – found their way to the People’s Republic of Leith and we did a proper planning session and all that kind of thing. We also waved a fond a demain to the wonderful Pam Morris, one of our PR account directors, who is off to increase the number of lang kittens in the world by one. This will be only the fourth lang kitten in our 11-year history, so it’s a big deal. There was cake.

That aside, it was brilliant to have everyone together, and I was the most buzzed I’ve been for a long time – well, in work hours anyway – at the end of it. A good reminder of the importance of actual human contact and the importance of celebrating together.

Back to work. It’s early March and that means that the embargoes for full year platform stats have finally lifted. I always like seeing the full year stats – partly to see how the platforms have done but also because the success or otherwise of these businesses is a good and relatively readily available proxy for the health of the planning and advice sector.

So what did 2021 provide? Well, cutting out the noise and the nonsense, advisers trusted the 22 intermediated platforms we cover with £86.3bn of your clients’ hard-earned. And you know what they say…£86.3bn here, £86.3bn there, soon adds up to real money. I’d say the advisory sector is doing absolutely fine.

Assets in that advised channel stood at £583bn at the end of 2021. If we include non-advised assets from the platforms we cover, that rises to £734bn. Re-expressed as dollars using the GBP:USD rate on 31/12/21, that’s $993bn, which is roughly the same as the GDP of Hungary and Turkey combined, which just goes to show.

While we’re on full year stats, the class leaders with over £9bn of gross flow were Quilter and Abrdn (but remember that Abrdn’s flows are across Wrap and Elevate which it doesn’t like separating out because reasons). Transact and Aviva did £8bn and Fidelity Adviser Solutions (the artist formerly known as Fundsnetwork) did £7bn.

It’s sometimes easy to forget the dominance of these huge firms as we lose ourselves – as we love to – in the minutiae of the platform market overall. Whether assets are flowing from ‘owned’ distribution or not, the top five platforms made up 48% of the total flows in the market. Another way of saying that is that if you rocked up to any given adviser on any given day (absent SJP and a couple of others but why spoil a good stat?) in 2021, you were as likely to end up on one of those top 5 as any of the other 17.

That’s not new – the equivalent figure in 2016 would have been 58% share of adviser wallet for the top five. But it does remind us that many, many advisers and planners trust the biggies, and the challenge for the other providers out there remains to break that dominance.

#LANGCATLINKS

  • Quite a big thing here – Hartley Pensions, which provides the Hubwise SIPP amongst others – has been ordered to stop all new business activity by the FCA. I don’t know why (it’s not clear from the FCA site) but not good news for those who depend on it. It can keep taking contributions to existing plans and service its existing business, but otherwise it’s what I can only imagine are a number of extremely desultory games of Crossy Road for the folks at Hartley. More news as we get it, sort of thing.
  • Also big – Tom’s new podcat is on pension dashboards, and very good it is too. He’s joined by Rachel Vahey from AJ Bell and Chris Curry from the Pension Dashboard Programme. Treat your ears here.
  • We’re doing an open demo of Platform Analyser tomorrow. If you’d like to see how our method of suitability-driven due diligence works, free of provider influence (no provider pays to be on Analyser) then this is where you need to be – tomorrow at 11am.
  • Your music choice this week is just something joyful and heavy and daft and I don’t mind if you all hate it. Here’s Eluveitie with a top live version of The Call Of The Mountains. MOAR HURDYGURDY.

See you next week

Mark