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A low speed train crash

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So it’s been ages since I last posted, most remiss of me, sorry for causing an aching void in your lives, that sort of thing. It’s been a busy old time at the lang cat; we’ve been involved in all sorts of fun stuff from TCF reviews of platform literature right through to proposition development work on new and (though we say it ourselves) pretty innovative tax wrappers on one or two forward-looking platforms.

It’s been busy out there too. The D2C guys are making their move – nutmeg, rplan and investorbee (this lot have all lost the shift button on their keyboards) are looking good and Saxo has launched a full-on D2C trading platform which looks great apart from the fact the fund range is completely bundled, it sits on the rebates and doesn’t offer passives. It really does seem that the XO market is going to be a pretty crappy place in terms of transparency next to the advised space.

I’ve reviewed investorbee for the new lang cat column in Professional Adviser / IFAOnline and will stick the link up when it’s published.

Up my neck of the woods, Standard Life has stuck its hand up for the restricted space. It’ll get some stick for it, but this has been the direction of travel for a long time and for those happy to align their future with one provider it will, I’m sure, be a good proposition. Outside of anything I may think about my old gaff, an increasing number of IFAs I speak to feel SL has lost its way a bit in the IFA space and particularly lost focus on the wrap – this is probably why.

Anyway, the real subject for today is RDR readiness. Today’s the first day of spring, sports fans, and what better day to call for everyone that hasn’t published their RDR plans to do so. We’re only 9 months away (if only someone had a big clock…) and advisers need some proper time to do their due diligence. I think some providers are sitting on their plans for 2 reasons – either their marketeers want to make a big bang, or their plans are in trouble. If it’s the first can I just take this opportunity to say “get over it”. If it’s the second…well, that’s another story.

We hear of one provider whose IT function has said that their delivery date for the RDR functionality is, at best, 31 December. At best. That’s seriously worrying. I won’t name names and I’m sure they’ll pull it out the bag, but this is indicative of a group of providers who haven’t been taking it all seriously enough.

While we’re on it, I don’t know if you spotted this a few days ago on SIPP disclosure. SIPP providers (including those on platforms) will have to disclose what interest they retain on cash held within their products. They’ll also need to start doing proper RiYs, effects of deductions and all that in their quotes.

So what? Well, providers have a huge amount on their plate, and if the rumours are true some of them will miss their deadlines. What happens when you chuck a big extra load of illustrations work on top? Do they suck it up and say “Thank you sir, may I have another”? Or do they sit, rocking gently in the corner and saying “wibble”?

My money’s on “wibble”.

It strikes me that we are moving, very slowly and inexorably, towards a really bad pile-up. It’s time for IFAs to start being really challenging – and detailed, and specific – with providers about what their plans are and what their delivery schedule looks like. Providers (and I’ve done this myself) bang on about ‘partnership’ – this is one of those times when fair dealing and transparency have to trump media management and marketing.

I’ll do another post soon with the questions IFAs should ask of providers in the next month or so. You might want to check back…

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About Mark Polson

lang cat founder and boss. Expert on all things platforms, pensions and investments. Prolific writer and public speaker, even when people ask him not to be. Knows more about Scandinavian black metal than you, and isn't afraid to prove it.