All Blogs

Impressions of a noob


At the tail end of last week Mark challenged me to write a brief blog summing up what I’ve found out in my first week at the lang cat. Let’s call it 4 and a half days taking into account the robust induction process.[1]

Now, my 10 year sentence in the industry thus far has been served in your more traditional celtic-based lifecos. And it’s probably also worth making a brief confession that for a chunk of my last role, I spent a fair amount of time actively campaigning against platforms. I know, I know. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Furthermore, I also spent the majority of my last couple of years focusing on customer insight, so I’m conscious of the fact that my natural tendency when examining industry issues is to get a bit preachy regarding TCF, positive customer outcomes and other such trivialities.

With that in mind, I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t approach the new-age platform space with a smidgeon of trepidation and even a little scepticism. Much like how a young Jonathan Ke Quan must have felt when he first entered the Temple.[2] That said, a week with Mark and I’m already beginning to see the light and achieve a clarity of thought that can only be achieved by either a deeply moving religious experience or a pint of Innes & Gunn on a balmy Leith evening. Turns out platforms are pretty freakin, awesome! Yay platforms! Etc!

Anyway, jesting aside and in my still blissful state of conscious incompetence, here are my initial, very brief, observations in all their glory;[3]

  • This is still a very young industry, run by a small, select band of interesting characters, most of whom seem to talk to each other, especially via social media. This is a very good thing, and if channelled correctly can lead to great levels of transparency, progressive debate and all that good, healthy stuff. It can of course, naming no names, lead to quite frankly hilarious public spats. This is even better.
  • The industry loves to talk about big numbers. Big AUA numbers. Huge in fact. Less so about profit though. I’m just sayin!
  • To me, there is a disproportionate level of noise relating to issues that the customer will either never see or understand. Granted, issues such as clean share classes and re-reg are mind-numbingly complex and important and as such there is a natural level of Realpolitik that goes with the territory. But to me, they seem to utterly dominate the landscape, leaving little room for other stuff such as product innovation & meaningful adviser and customer engagement (see, I told you). I could be wrong though, and of course a lot of this is a natural outcome of the blitzkrieg of recent regulatory change.

So, there we have it. Underwhelming? Probably. It’s only been a few days though, so be nice.

Please feel free to drop me a line via [email protected] or follow me via Twitter on @langcatsteve. It would be grand to hear from you.

(P.S I know she’ll read this so forgive me for a dose of first blog indulgence!.. Hi Mum.)


[1] Pub lunch and a blether

[2] It’s my favourite of the three. I refuse to acknowledge the 4th exists. Look it up.

[3] I’m a Dunfermline Athletic fan. My parameters of glory are different to yours. Deal with it.

Posted in: #Platforms   #Uncategorized  

About Steven Nelson

Insight Director at the lang cat. Bit of this. Bit of that.