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Things can only get better, maybe – the lang cat’s round-up of 2018

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Well, if you’re reading this, you made it. Only 8 hours or so to go and we can wave a fond-ish farewell to a very particular year.

Usually in this end-of-year blog I spend time providing a devastatingly concise and insightful summary of the big stories of the year. And when I say ‘devastatingly concise and insightful’, I mean I spend no more than 40 minutes on it when forcing the kids to have a nap before staying up for Hogmanay.

This year, though, it’s been such a massive year for platforms and the trade in general, that 40 minutes and 500 words isn’t going to cut it. So I’m going to refer you out to this article in Professional Adviser, which is what I mainly think.

I suppose, while I’m on lang cat real estate as opposed to PA’s hallowed content management system, I have one over-riding feeling at the end of the year, which is that so many of the problems the sector has faced could easily have been avoided. I’ve moaned for a long time about the platform sector trying to out-manufacture itself; coming up with kit that few if any advisers want, need or will use for their clients. All that competition diverts attention away from getting the basics right and really nailing service, which is the stuff that properly gets advisers switched on. A further side effect of this is that no-one shares experiences for worrying that they’ll give away some sort of secret sauce and lose some competitive advantage. This is plainly silly, and leads to utter omnishambles of the sort that we’ve seen too often in the last year or so.

At our DeadX event in November we talked about Fuckup Nights – find out more at https://fuckupnights.com/ – where various tech folks come together to talk about things they’ve screwed up and what they learned. The idea is to progress in a communal sort of way. This isn’t as hippy-dippy as it sounds – if you read the website you’ll see that everyone gets something out of it, especially those who share their experiences. I’d love to set up and run a Fuckup Night for our sector – but I don’t think anyone would come.

Anyway, I don’t feel like I’ve got much more to say about 2018 other than that I hope 2019 is a much, much better year, even if markets go on the fritz a bit. So instead of going on any more, here’s a video of squirrels spinning round on bird feeders.

Over at the lang cat, our little shop has grown up a lot over the last year – some of which has gone great, some of which has been less great. I’ve learned a huge amount about trying to put a lot of change into a small business all at once while still keeping all the wheels turning – basically don’t – and while some of it hasn’t been fun I wouldn’t trade it. I think the lang cat at the end of 2018 is the strongest it’s ever been. We’ve got a ridiculous amount of experience and expertise in the business. As well as the names some of you know already we were joined by two outstanding analysts in the form of Chris Bredin and Janice MacLean. And latterly we welcomed Rebecca Christensen as our Marketing Director – many of you will remember her as the marketing director of Nucleus back in the day. There’s a lot on our schedule for 2019, and we hope you’ll like at least some of it.

So that’s probably enough. Thank you to all our clients, from IFAs who’ve bought a guide right through to the large organisations who’ve got us in for substantial behind-the-scenes bits of work. We appreciate every bit of it. Thanks too to all who’ve used the Platform Directory or read our stuff, and got in touch to say you liked it, or didn’t, or agreed with it, or didn’t. It’s all good.

Have a good Hogmanay, and we’ll see you on the other side.

Slainte mhath

Mark and the lang cats

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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.