Hello and welcome to your June. I’m a big fan of June; it’s a month where lots of things happen. The heating is off (not because it’s warm up here, just because we can’t afford it), lots of exciting worky things are happening, the industry is finally cranked up and into gear, and this year the lang kitten v1.0 turns 14. I’ve no idea how that happened.
Also in June – and a reason why I’m a fan of Terry as well as June (if you don’t get that joke then you are too young to be reading this) – will be another big step forward for our Analyser comparison and due diligence system, so if proper product suitability with none of the nonsense is something that matters in your world then keep your eyes open. Terry, for the avoidance of doubt, is our very own Terry Huddart, not the bloke from the 80s sitcom. That’s a red herring.
I also need to let you know – and we’ll get to the main business in a moment – that our first in-person Edinburgh event since 2019 is now booked. The lang cat’s legendary HomeGame will be live at the beautiful National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh on 5 October. That’s 5 October. No more details just yet – coming soon – but if you are or can be in Embra on that date then save it. It’s going to be fun, not least because once we’re done with the business then they’re opening up one of the galleries for us to wander round as we have drinks after. Again, more details soon. But we is all excite. Oh, and we’ll stream the event too if you can’t make it to God’s country.
Right, so let’s have another think about white-labelling of platforms by adviser firms. This is sparked by the trade media’s very own Thorpedo – David Thorpe – who published a braw piece in the hallowed pixels of FT Adviser yesterday. As ever, you can all read, so I won’t rehash it here but I think there are a couple of things worth highlighting as this keeps coming up, as does the paper the lang cat did on it with Seccl a wee while back.
First up, we need to get clear on terminology, and you can read about all that in the paper. Once that’s clear, the next job is to think about what’s involved from a regulatory standpoint, and Ben Hammond from Altus does a very good job of outlining that in David’s piece.
One issue we didn’t have the space to get into in the piece was the intersection of control with ownership of technology. I’ve had a number of firms say that what attracts them about adviser-as-platform is that it will insulate them from worries about M&A activity and replatforming. While there are any number of very good reasons to consider this different way of working, this shouldn’t be one of them. As a firm you can insulate yourself from those issues only in as much as you build technology yourself. No matter which technologies you are a client of – from client portals through to main custody and dealing systems, those systems can still be bought and sold (and regularly are) and can change their fundamental underlying componentry. It is true that the more you bring individual elements together yourself, the less you rely on a one-ring-to-rule-them-all provider; equally you are then on the hook for ensuring the integration of all the diverse elements works.
It is also possible to get that spreading-of-risk effect with other models – Ola from Fundment makes the case for that in the piece (disclosure: Fundment is a lang cat client). And this point is, I think, at the heart of where the platform market goes next.
A wise if follically challenged guy I was speaking to last week put it really well: those platforms who offer a disassembled proposition will be working to create a more assembled version that meets some kind of optimal control vs decentralisation point for firms who are up for this sort of thing but maybe don’t want to go all the way. Platforms who offer a fully assembled version (and who want this kind of business) will be doing the reverse – disassembling what they do into microservices and componentry to reach the same point. So we have a convergence destination and, if we’re lucky, a bit of an arms race to get there. That will be fun to watch.
The caveat to all this is that – just like if you go down the full adviser-as-platform route – it works if you’re really into putting the effort in to create something that is uniquely suited to your needs as a firm. There are more options than ever before, but you have to want it.
- Plenty going on – June, innit. Abrdn has rediscovered its appetite for vowels and has completed its acquisition of Interactive Investor. The D2C space is reeeallly interesting at the moment, especially with pressures on the share prices of those providers who are listed.
- Talking of completion, that’s the rebrand of Ascentric to the M&G Wealth Platform all done now. It always used to depress me how many platforms started with A, because you’d be at it for hours before you were even halfway down the alphabet. Perhaps more importantly, the pace of development and improvement has shot up significantly of late, and that’s good to see. So good luck to the MGWP as it sets sail on the next leg of its journey. Fun fact: MGWP is an anagram of my initials and so it is now my VERY FAVOURITE platform.
- Plenty also going on over on Tom McPhail’s podcat – it’s going to be a busy summer. June, innit…
- And your music choice this week is a slice of energetic perfection that just fits this week. Have Orange Crush by REM in your perfectly functioning earholes and be warned that I won’t be able to hold off the thundering metal for many more weeks…
See you next week