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THE TOP CLASS WEDNESDAY UPDATE NEVER TAKES A HOLIDAY…

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If you are a regular reader of this email, boy did you get a classic end of season cliff-hanger at the end of last week’s episode. The boss has gone off on his hols, tossing the keys to the TCWU machine in the direction of his drones from sector 7g. Will the update be sent? Who will be writing it? Will it still be as “good” as normal? So many questions….

But fear not. Your weekly dose of Wednesday goodness is still here, albeit (almost certainly only for July) you’ll be in the company of a different lang cat. First up, yours truly, and fortunately there is a lot to update y’all on….

GET IT TOGETHER

Kicking things off we have the news that Interactive Investor have completed the acquisition of our Dundee friends, Alliance Trust Savings. According to the release this means II are now a “scaled challenger” (is that actually a thing?) with £36bn of assets, held by 400,000 customers. This is still some way short of HL’s £91.6bn/1.1m customers, but if scale challenger means what I think it does then II (and others) have probably never had a better chance to chip away at the Bristol massive. However, as much as #thatfund is still causing them some serious headaches, their figures – most notably their client retention rate – remain scary/impressive depending on your point of view. HL’s prelims are on 8th August (when I’m on hols…) and will be the first big indicator of just how damaging the last month or so has been. With the competition starting to get more confident it will certainly be one to watch, although with 76% of HL customers having no exposure to #thatfund, and over 50% of those that do holding less than £4k, I for one am not sure the impact to HL will be that profound.

SO WHAT’CHA WANT?

As well as ATS and II getting it together, we also have news of a big acquisition over in adviser land, with 1825 picking up the advice arm of Grant Thornton for an undisclosed pile of cash. This in turn adds £1.7bn to the 1825 vaults, taking the total figure up to £5.8bn AUA. A big deal, and also an interesting one, not least since Grant Thornton are one of Cofunds’ biggest users…

A few weeks ago, the boss man wrote about the state of the advice market as seen through the lens of the latest FCA data bulletin. Based on my recent conversations with advisers I’m starting to see three distinct groups emerging, all of whom are confident and making choices about what they want to be doing from a position of strength.

First up, the consolidators. These are firms who are looking to be acquired, and there are normally plenty of suitors. Secondly, the growers. These are wanting to be around in 5 to 10 years’ time and are looking to grow along the way. And finally, the farmers. Whereas the first two are still looking to pick up new clients, these advisers are not. Their objective is to keep the existing client relationships/fees in place.

Most within all of these three groups are delivering good customer outcomes, and the FCA data bulletin shows that all are in an increasingly strong financial position. This gives the firms the luxury of choosing who they want to work with, and for providers this is not necessarily good news. If you have advisers in the first or third camps you can suddenly find that the existing assets move elsewhere if they are acquired, or the new client growth slows down if they become a farmer. It’s no surprise to see providers becoming more and more focused on acquiring advice firms themselves, whilst also hunting out the growers.

CH-CHECK IT OUT

In keeping with the format that everyone loves so much (or at least that’s what the handover note says) here are a few links…

Who will be in charge of next week’s episode? You’ll have to stay subscribed to find out, but it will be one of this lot. I’m privileged to work with a great bunch of colleagues, despite their terrible taste in music and cartoons (thanks Terry…) and you can find out loads about them all via the link.

Next, a report from Age UK looking at Pension Freedoms which Age UK say “are letting down many ordinary older people”. It’s not just bashing, there are several proposed solutions so it’s well worth a read.

Last week we hinted at working with a firm looking to potentially disrupt the traditional DFM MPS model. Well, we hint no longer as it’s very much a real piece of research. If you’re an adviser and are interested in portfolio construction, we’re looking for your views. You can access our short survey here and should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. In return you’ll get a summary of the results. Many thanks in advance for your time.

Finally, the musical treat of the week…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EK2hsbDDNe0

Isle of Wight signing off.

Mike

Posted in: #Top Class Wednesday Update  

About Mike Barrett

Consultancy director and sole proprietor of the Isle of Wight division of the lang cat. Superstar DJ by night and investment and platform proposition expert by day. Driver and survivor of several major platform change projects. Ask him anything.

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