It gets earlier every year, doesn’t it? I still remember fondly the years of midnight deadlines, getting applications time-stamped so that they could be keyed as if they were from the day before, and the hunted look all round as everyone girded their loins to just get through it.

Oh OK, it doesn’t get earlier every year at all, and supposedly it matters less and less, as you all coach your clients not to ride the last minute train to Taxville. But human nature is human nature; we love a deadline and we all know that the end of Q1 is super busy no matter what happens. So I hope you’ve had a productive few weeks and that it’s set you fair for the rest of the year. And as for tax, well the less said the better.

Every so often on the Update I suspend normal rules, and this is one of those weeks. The reason I’m doing that is that we’ve been busy too and this week sees the launch of our annual advised platform Guide – probably the thing we’re known best for still. This is our tenth annual guide, believe it or not, and everything seems very different now – not least because the lang cat was a 3-person company a decade ago, and we’ll shortly be a 25-person shop. Pumped for that employer NI rise, I tell you. Pumped.

We used to sell the Guide standalone, but now it forms part of the annual premium subscription to Analyser. So if you work in an advice business and you’re reading this, visit Analyser, get signed up and start enjoying THE MANY BENEFITS today. I’ll stop punting now.

But I will give you a couple of headlines from what one lovely paraplanner this morning called “an amazing report…the best I’ve seen”. (I lied when I said I’d stop punting).

First up, vertical integration. We all think of the biggies – Quilter, TP, Abrdn – as the integrated shops. But of the 22 top platforms, 14 have some form of VI – whether investment management or D2C, principally – and the other eight are predominantly at the smaller end of the AUA scale (Transact and JHP aside).

It wouldn’t be an annual Guide if we didn’t have a pricing section in it – it’s where we came from – and while book price for platforms is now pretty well understood, the murky world of special deals remains pretty interesting. It’s worth saying that premium Analyser lets you put your own deal in (and if you’re a provider user you can put your own and competitor deals in as standard) to see if it’s as good as they say it is.

About 60% of firms have a deal with at least one platform. The smallest firms don’t do so well as you’d expect – 17% have a deal with their primary choice. That rises to over 40% for firms with £500m – £1bn under advice. Bigger firms than that tend to have either integrated options where special deals ain’t special, or negotiate with all and sundry and spread it around – 46% of those firms have deals with everyone they place business with.

Prices are getting compressed in the platform sector as we know – and perhaps one sign that there isn’t as far to go is that 40%-ish of firms rank price as most important in selection when we ask; this is down from 50%-ish in last year’s Guide.

Anyway, it’s a new tax year, I’ve got increased NI bills to pay and both the Guide and the soon-to-be-radically-expanded Analyser (check back next week) are well worthy of your annual £300 (or £200 if you’re an active member of our adviser research panel).

We’ll get back to normal service next week, maybe.

#LANGCATLINKS

  • It’s that time of the quarter when we need your views on your platforms again. We have RADICALLY SHORTENED the questionnaire now, and it includes off-platform stuff too. Each provider should take no more than 2 minutes to rate. Please please please lend us your views and do so here.
  • HomeGames 2.0 is on today – a good’un on platforms. Got literally hundreds of folk signed up – come and join if you see this before 12.30pm. Free as ever; this time you see Nathan from Plan Works, Verona from 7IM and Andy from AJ Bell. And me. Grab your spot here. or catch up on the YouTubes
  • All lang cat all the time this week, but it’s a special week. I learned a bunch by listening to the wise and brilliant Philippa Hann on Tom’s podcat – if you are interested in British Steel or how the advisory profession needs to think different to actually be a profession then this is massively worth your time.
  • And your music choice this week – well, again it’s a special week on lots of levels. I pride myself on never having the same song twice, but I’m breaking that rule this time. This song was included about two years ago and reading the Update from that week I think it bears repeating. This is for those – near and far – that have made it through tough times. Please give house room once again to the mighty Devin Townsend and Spirits Will Collide.

See you next week

Mark