A shorter than usual Update this week, siblings, as many of you will have been plagued by us already with communications about the beta launch of MPS Analyser to sit alongside Platform Analyser. And we certainly don’t want to test the limits of your endurance, not least as many of you are about to head off on your Easter break. So no extended gags about parties and fines and drinking in the hospital staffroom (FFS) and mendacity.

But at the risk of testing those limits – in a fun way, naturally – first, please can we hit you up for lidderally two minutes of your time if you’re an adviser, planner, paraplanner or admin? It’s time for our quarterly check on how platforms and providers are serving you, or not. This quarter we’ve completely redesigned the survey – it’s much shorter, much quicker and covers providers other than platforms for the first time. So if you use Royal London, M&G, Scottish Widows and so on, you can now tell us how they’re doing. We’ve also made sure to leave space for positives as well as negatives.

We do very well with responses for some platforms , mainly the bigger ones, but we could really use more ratings and feedback. The results crop up in Analyser so you can see them later and we will also provide a summary to those who leave their details (you don’t have to).

The rating survey is here, and thank you most kindly indeed. You may have one (1) extra small chocolate egg.

ABOUT A THIRD

Right, back to work, or rather not if you work at the FCA. That’s unfair, of course, as is the joke about “how many staff work at the FCA?” “About a third of them”. The unionisation and wan-oot-all-oot striking or otherwise of our friends at Stratford is not a matter for your friendly neighbourhood Update, or at least not this week (comrades). But there are a couple of interesting points to consider.

Here’s one: what are bonuses for? The plan at Stratford is to keep them for the ‘top’ 25% of staff, when they’ve normally been given to up to 90% (of staff, not of salary). This brings to mind the old Jack Welch approach of separating your people into three camps: the top 20% who you reward generously, the middle 70% who get to look jealously at the 20%, and the bottom 10% who you fire. This is 25/75/0 instead of 20/70/10 but the intent feels the same.  So how do we work out who the ‘top’ at the regulator is? Folk who work in areas that successfully stopped scams? Folk who prevented consumer harms by acting quickly and decisively? Folk who did complex technical work on PRIIPS? Or what? There is no doubt some performance management 9-box model or something equally hideous in place – but as a thought experiment, if you were designing an incentive structure for the regulator, and remembering that regulating IFAs is only a little of what the FCA does – what would you incentivise?

And here’s another: what kind of people do we want working at the regulator? Let’s focus in on long-term savings and investment regulation now. Do we want people who are experienced in the profession and the industry; who know their game and who are paid like it? Folk who would normally expect a generous incentive scheme in the private sector, whether they work for adviser firms or providers or wherever? Or folk who have come up through the ranks and haven’t experienced the sharp end? I wonder if we did have a regulator stuffed with people who really know their way around and can cut straight to the stuff that really matters, if we might not prefer it. But of course, getting those folk on board will take a bit of doing – and an incentive scheme that works. Otherwise I fear the exodus may simply continue.

Anyway, I’ve just had a flashback to corporate life and 9-box performance management frameworks, so I’m off for a lie down and to wash my mind out with a wire brush and Dettol.

#LANGCATLINKS

  • Integration is on our minds again as we kick off work on a new market study, so it’s timely that Fidelity Adviser Solutions (the artist formerly known as Fundsnetwork) has got some plans in that regard. We shall watch with interest.
  • I don’t know if you have any academic friends, but if you do and you want to see them get entertainingly cross, then feed them Tom’s latest podcat with John Ralfe.
  • Good piece on transfers and the Consumer Duty here – a subject to which we shall return all year – from Ola Abdul of Fundment; well worth a read.
  • And your music choice: well, in the spirit of testing your limits it strikes me you’ve been let off very gently in recent weeks and that needs to change. So please do settle in for the full 15 minutes or so of Elastic by Meshuggah, who have a very good new record out. Prizes to anyone who lasts all the way through.

Delighted to say that I’m aff next week, and that the latest recruit to the lang cat ranks, Scott Sinclair, will be Updating you in my place. Play nice.

Mark