Due diligence is one of our beloved industry’s trickier beasts. Much like dental check-ups, MOTs and dinner with the in-laws, many of us have to go through it but very few relish the prospect.

While platforms have had something of a steer as to good practise, specialist SIPPs have been left out in the cold. But no more! The lang cat is here to offer our take on what good looks like and what makes our whiskers curl in disapproval.

This is an unusual report for us. @sipp commissioned us to carry out the analysis. But it’s not an analysis of @sipp – we compare it to neither a peer group nor a benchmark – it’s an analysis of the process of carrying out specialist SIPP due diligence.

It’ll make more sense when you read it, which we heartily recommend. Here’s what you can look forward to:

  • A look at the current due diligence landscape (with just enough sources to suggest we did some research).
  • Why due diligence is possibly going to take over the world.
  • Our ‘oh, yes please’ and ‘gonnae no dae that’ of due diligence.
  • The questions we set @sipp and its unedited responses.
  • The lang cat view on those responses. And a few extra thoughts as they came to us.


The paper will set you back the sum total of no pounds. That’s thanks to @sipp paying us to carry out the analysis, good guys that they are.  But, the comments we make are just what they would be whether we were being paid or not. It’s up to you what you make of it all, but that’s how it is.

Tempted? We can’t think who wouldn’t give in to a combination of SIPP due diligence and high end cat imagery. All we need from you are a few little details and you’re all set.



Last year, we took a look at the decumulation withdrawal landscape in our paper When The Levee Breaks. That covered standard-issue drawdown contracts in some depth (and is still worth a read, by the way).

But it didn’t cover annuities and it didn’t cover ‘guaranteed drawdown’ type products – those uncomfortable bedfellows which are neither one thing nor the other but say they try to give the best of both.

This has been niggling at us for a while. We reckoned there was no point diving into annuities, because the mighty Ned Cazalet has done it better than we ever could. But these other products, largely unloved by advisers, felt like they were worth a look.

So we were pretty happy when the cats at Aegon shouted us to see if we’d be up for looking at the landscape across annuities, ‘naked’ drawdown (saucy) and what they call guaranteed drawdown.

We were, and the result is this fine paper: HOW TO GET YOUR MONEY BACK. In it you’ll find a dissection of the guaranteed drawdown market – which is a small one, but a market nonetheless – alongside ‘normal’ drawdown and annuities. Here’s what you get:

  • Retrospective and prospective scenarios of up to 30 years because we like to party!
  • An attempt to work out if the reflexive adviser reaction of ‘meh, expensive’ is justified!
  • The economic scenarios in which the various types of products perform best!
  • Total actual cash money return across all the product types!
  • A dramatic schematic infographic!
  • A coining of the phrase ‘death wager quotient’ to replace ‘annuity rate’!
  • New cat pictures!

Now, this paper is a free one because Aegon kindly covered the costs of us doing it. So thanks to them. Clearly they have a product to sell, and we cover it in this paper. But AI behaved themselves very well throughout and didn’t get too huffy when we weren’t entirely complimentary about their offering in every respect. So what you read here is what we’d say if we weren’t being paid. You can believe that or not, but as ever when we do sponsored pieces, it is the truth. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

If you fancy reading it, then just pop your details below. But take your socks off first because otherwise we’ll BLOW THEM OFF. That, my friends, is called hyperbole, and if you can control it it will be your friend.



robochairman largeWe know there are a few other things going on right now but we’re British (at the time of writing anyway) so we’ll just crack on. And that means unleashing our third annual lang cat guide to direct platform investing.

The third album can be tricky but we’ve got it sorted with a careful balance of:

  • robo-humour!
  • cat pictures!
  • the occasional snippet of market analysis!
  • and platforms! We definitely mention them somewhere.



And we will stick to this promise (unlike either side of the campaign), if for no other reason that we had pretty much tucked the Guide up in bed before the result hit.

This year we are all about robo-advice. It’s been sneaking up for a while and is now dominating a lot of industry attention (if not actual business). We cover what you need to know about robo, how the newcomers fit into the existing direct investment market and what that might mean for you as an investor. We’ll also take a look at how platforms charge and what they charge for.

And if that isn’t enough, we celebrate those platforms who deserve a gold star and call out those in need of a hard stare in the third annual lang cat direct platform awards.


Twisted your arm? It’s free to download which means no sponsors, no ads and no pop-ups that won’t pop off. All we need from you are some contact details so we can keep you up to date with all the lang cat shenanigans. If you’re a consumer just type Consumer in the company field. If you’re a business owner with a company called Consumer, you might want to rethink that decision. If you’ve subscribed already then we’ll be in touch with your own link.

Option 2. Order a paper copy – some of us still like proper publications. With paper covers and all that. If that’s you then we can help. Unfortunately printing and postage doesn’t come for free so we do have to make a charge of £9.95 to cover our costs. Place your order using the button below and please allow 5 working days for your book to arrive.




QW2-imageA year ago the lang cat teamed up with CWC Research to get up close and personal with the investment outsourcing market. The result was NEVER MIND THE QUALITY, FEEL THE WIDTH which questioned not only how advisers select outsourced investment propositions but also the propositions themselves.

As the market moves on, so have we and the focus for this yearâ??s work naturally shifted to centralised retirement propositions. How are advisers addressing some of the key (and changing) client needs and priorities as they approach a retirement period that may look very different from just last year? And what centralised investment propositions are available to help advisers meet these needs? What does â??goodâ?? look like? We have valuable insight from a range of industry experts as well as a substantial refresh of the data from the first study.


  • What proportion of advisers are genuinely outsourcing? How do they do it?
  • Retirement now increasingly means a long-term relationship with the client. And that means new considerations. How are advisers addressing longevity and succession planning for their business?
  • To what extent is sequencing risk considered a threat to clientsâ?? retirement income and how are advisers dealing with this?
  • How satisfied are advisers with platformsâ?? decumulation functionality?
  • How accessible is the data and communication material advisers need to support clients?
  • How do multi-asset funds perform against a range of indices? And how does that picture look if we move from the aggregate to the individual view?
  • What impact does OCF have on flow for multi-asset funds?
  • What’s wrong with risk control in multi-asset investing?

NEVER MIND THE QUALITY, FEEL THE WIDTH 2 is a major study aimed at fund managers, platforms/providers and advisers.  Itâ??s priced at £7,500 plus VAT but weâ??re offering an early bird rate of £5,000 plus VAT until 14 February 2016 – the perfect Valentine gift for your Insight team, no?

If youâ??d like to find out more or purchase a copy, please email or



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If platforms (as we know them) are dead, then this is the wake and you’re invited. We’ll gather together to commemorate the death of platforms as we know them and to ponder what the future might hold.

Mark Polson and Mike Barrett from the lang cat will kick things off by conducting a live post-mortem for platforms, probing in some graphic detail the ways in which they’ve passed over – and what they need to do for their next incarnation.

After that it’s time to look to the future, and we have three fantastic guest speakers to help us get over our collective loss. This is all about getting beyond the platform basics, and building for a future industry which will – whatever it holds – look radically different to anything we’ve dealt with before.

If that doesnâ??t work there will also be BOOZE. We haven’t decided about LITTLE SAUSAGE ROLLS yet. You can send us a note.

You can also help shape the wake playlist by tweeting your song selections on #platformsaredead.


THOMAS BROOKS – Policy Researcher, The Citizenâ??s Advice Bureau: The Four Advice Gaps. How can we ensure more people have access to advice?
JOHN ROEHead of Multi-Asset Funds, Legal & General Investment Management: Investor psychology & delivering customer outcomes
PETE TRAINOR – Director of Human Centred Design, Nexus: Decision making for digital natives.

No speaker has paid to appear, and we have no sponsors.

Just click on the button to register. And wear black. It’s a respect thing.



Dead imageIt doesnâ??t seem a year since we were last here does it? But it was and – with predictable regularity – here we are again with PLATFORMS ARE DEAD: STATE OF THE PLATFORM NATION. This is the lang catâ??s guide to the important stuff going on in the advised platform market right now. And thereâ??s a lot of it, as you would expect.

Highlights include:

  • The ways in which we reckon platforms are dead.
  • Six months on from pension freedoms, how much has the world of drawdown really changed?
  • An unpacking of the changing regulatory landscape, flat-pack stylee, without too many bits left over.
  • The three laws of what isn’t really robo-advice, but that’s what everyone keeps calling it anyway.
  • Our #heatmaps and pricing analysis. But with extrasâ?¦
  • A long overdue introduction to Platform Gran and our totally revamped and upgraded PEE-WI (that’s Provider Enhanced Emotional Wellbeing Index for the uninitiated).

And as if that wasnâ??t enough youâ??ll get quarterly updates winging their way to your inbox, oh, every twelve weeks or so.


Providers/large advisory firms: the cost is £3,000 (plus VAT) for your own use. If you want to distribute the guide to others, get in touch and weâ??ll negotiate a deal. Distribute without a deal and, well, letâ??s not find out eh? Email or to order.

Advisers: the cost is a mere £150 (plus VAT) with a discount of £50 for members of threesixty, IFP and PFS. We work on trust so just pick the right option from the drop-down, then add to cart and know that lies make kittens cry. You can add a printed copy to your order for an extra £10 (printing and postage and all that) â?? just pick the option at £160 (plus VAT) or £110 (plus VAT). VAT gets added on at the very last stage as you check out.


Once youâ??ve paid, you’ll see a link that says return to the lang cat. PRESS THIS LINK! It will take you to your download. If you don’t, nothing will happen and you will feel all frustrated as a result, and none of us need that.




It doesnâ??t seem like a year since we launched the lang catâ??s first ever guide to direct investing: Come and Have a Go. But it is. Last year was a bit of an experiment â?? our first time writing for non-industry folk – but some of those people were quite nice about it, so we decided to do it all over again with the imaginatively titled Come and Have a Go Too. All new, all free, with no sponsors, ads or ulterior motives.

What have we been up to now?

website image direct 2015The run up to last yearâ??s launch was a bit exciting for the direct market, with everyone showing their hand on explicit charges. The past year has also been hectic. We cover all the goings-on, natch. We also take an in-depth look at a few platforms and cast a lighter glance over some more.  Thereâ??s a bit about pricing, but not just the pounds and percentages. We spend time guiding you through the charges you might face when setting up your direct platform investment and, just as important but less talked about, those you might encounter on the way out again.

Finally, we have the second annual Lang Cat Direct Platform Awards where we celebrate platforms who have been super, smashing and may we say, great over the last year.

We hope you read and enjoy it. As ever, weâ??d love to hear your thoughts either way.


Option 1. Download a FREE copy - If you’re all about the digital experience then you’re good to go. All we ask in return is a bit of info so we can keep you up to date on all the lang cat shizzle. We’ll keep your details safe and will never, ever share them with anyone else. If you’re a consumer just type Consumer in the company field. And if youâ??ve already subscribed to the lang cat, no need to do so again unless you are the impatient type. Weâ??ll be contacting you separately with your very own personal download link.

 Option 2. Order a paper copy – some of us still like proper publications. With paper covers and all that. If that’s you then we can help. Unfortunately printing and postage doesn’t come for free so we do have to make a charge of £9.95 to cover our costs. Place your order using the button below and please allow 5 working days for your book to arrive.


HILTON PARK LANE – 22nd SEPTEMBER 2015 from 09:00 to 15:30

mics6 months into the brave new reformed world of pensions, how are advisers planning for their clients’ futures? What are the main issues and considerations when giving advice to clients approaching retirement? As an adviser, do you need a centralised retirement proposition, and if so, how does this differ from your investment proposition? And what does it all mean for asset managers and pension providers looking to support advisers in this critical area?

After last year’s successful inaugural event, the FE Investment Summit is back by popular demand. Hosted by Clive Waller Consulting, the lang cat and Financial Express, the 2015 Summit will explore the issues surrounding post retirement financial planning in depth, hearing from experts in asset management, regulation, insurance and advice.


Morning Session â?? Blending asset management, platform & insurance solutions. What do advisers need to consider?

Clive Waller â?? CWC Research
Thomas McMahon â?? Financial Express
Martin Lines â?? Partnership
John Lawson â?? Aviva
Nick Dixon – Aegon
Gregg McClymont â?? Aberdeen Asset Management
Carlton Hood â?? Old Mutual Wealth
Paul Boston – Novia
Simon Massey – MetLife
Richard Romer-Lee – Square Mile

Afternoon session â?? The challenges for advisers. How to deliver compliant advice in a commercially viable manner.

Mark Polson â?? the lang cat
Ian Shipway â?? HC Wealth Management
Anthony Villis â?? First Wealth
Malcolm Kerr â?? Ernst & Young
Rory Percival â?? Financial Conduct Authority

Who should attend?

The FE Investment Summit will be of interest to anyone involved in portfolio construction.

  • Advisers
  • Fund groups
  • Discretionary managers
  • Life companies
  • Platform managers
  • Data publishers


Email Shona at the lang cat to book, and if you are an adviser and a member of the PFS or IFP please do let us know when you book as you will qualify for an additional discount of 10%.

  • Adviser individual seats – £125 plus VAT
  • Provider individual seats – £495 plus VAT, or buy a table (seating 8) – £2,495 plus VAT





ppfIt wonâ??t have escaped your attention that the platform sector has been ALIVE with price cuts in recent years. In fact we estimate that since 2011 there have been specifically 228.5 of them. Itâ??s all been a result of the following equation: RDR + competitive pressure + focus on due diligence process + significant migration of assets to platforms.

And this is all rather important because the vast majority of new advised business (and direct for that matter) is now being written on platforms. Which means that what PEOPLE are paying for platforms is in effect what PEOPLE are paying for custody of their investment products, period.

So, with the aim of predicting how things are going to develop over the next decade, we take you on a visceral journey through the past, present and future of platform pricing. Which, some would argue, really looks into the future of all investment product charging in the UK. Maybe even the world. Maybe not.

By downloading this paper you are going to get:

â?¢ The evolution of custody costs (thatâ??s what we call platform charges, by the way)
â?¢ Contraire views from us on conventional assumptions
â?¢ Focus on company financials
â?¢ The future of custody costs
â?¢ Platform by platform trolling (but weâ??re nice, honest)
â?¢ Our future predictions
â?¢ A sense of otherworldly wellbeing


The report is free to download. All we ask in return is a bit of info so we can keep you up to date on all the lang cat shizzle. We’ll keep your details safe and will never, ever share them with anyone else. If you’re a consumer please just type Consumer in the company field. And if you’ve already subscribed, no need to do so again unless you are the impatient type. We’ll be contacting you separately with your very own personal download link.



event logo orange

MISSED IT? That’s a shame. But you can still hear from some of the contributors here.

Small, exclusive and deeply, deeply hip. No, weâ??re not talking about ourselves.

We are instead talking about Corbet Place at the Truman Brewery, the venue for the lang catâ??s first ever solo event-y type conference thing, kindly sponsored by GBST. Itâ??s hot on the heels of our new, free retirement guide, WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS: WHAT NEXT FOR THE UK RETIREMENT MARKET?

On the afternoon of 3 June, the beating heart of the industry will relocate to Shoreditch (beards, skinny jeans and tattoo sleeves mandatory) to talk about the detail of the impacts of pensions reform. This is a proper discussion, with proper interesting speakers and a room full of people who arenâ??t afraid to get into the detail because detailâ??s what matters.

Eventbrite - BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR - Pensions freedoms 8 weeks on

CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR is our title, and our theme. No-oneâ??s selling anything because no-oneâ??s buying anything. Itâ??s not that sort of gig.



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Our speakers include:

Iain Anderson â?? chief counsel, Cicero Consulting â?? talking the post-election landscape as it pertains to pension policy, financial services and life in general.

Michelle Cracknell â?? chief executive, The Pensions Advisory Service â?? talking about Pension Wise, the impact of pension freedoms and sharing experience from the first 8 weeks. (Note: Michelle might be prevented from joining us if the election goes all weird).

Tom McPhail â?? Pensions Simian, Hargreaves Lansdown â?? talking policy, practical experience from HLâ??s direct customer-facing operation, and who knows what else

Rob DeDominicis â?? chief executive, GBST Wealth â?? talking about the Australian experience and looking at what happens when old tech meets new tech without pads or a helmet.

Henry Cobbe â?? chief executive, Birthstar Funds â?? talking about target date funds and alternatives to lifestyling

John Porteous â?? head of client proposition, Towry â?? talking about the practicalities of advising in the new landscape

Mark Polson â?? principal, the lang cat â?? banging on about nonsense as usual


THE DATE                                   3 June
THE TIME                                   2pm. Done and in the bar by 5pm
THE PRICE                                 NO POONDS â?? thanks to those kind souls at GBST
BOOZE?                                     Yes, thanks to the good folk at GBST
CURRY LATER?                          Most probably�
Dress code?                              Ironic


We only have 100 tickets, so jump on the Eventbrite link and get yourself sorted. Itâ??s going to be emotional.


Eventbrite - BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR - Pensions freedoms 8 weeks on

Any questions call the catphone on 0131 202 5999 or email

See you there.