What a week, what a week. We are all living through stuff that will be written about in the history books here – I mean, we’re always doing that, that’s the way history works – but even so, this was a big, hairy, two-bottle week. It’s a tale of…what, exactly? Sound and fury for sure, but with significance. And of contrasts and similarities between Over There and Over Here. Too many to go into here, but a contrast that struck me is that while over there this entitled dude is demanding organic prison food, over here folk are just trying to make sure kids have enough to eat.
One thing I have worked out though, is that while watching the Orange One being deplatformed all over the place and his rabid band of neckbearded moonhowlers running hither and yon to find some kind of online home is proper laughing-till-a-bit-of-sick-comes-up funny, on balance I think I prefer my heidbangers and rockets out in the open where I can see them. And it’s in that spirit that we’ll get on with things.
We should pause awhile and consider Phlebas, and when we’ve done that we should consider Transact, who fresh from not buying Nucleus is actually buying Time4Advice. For the uninitiated, T4A offers, amongst other things, Curo, a practice management system. It was founded by stunt pilot Roland Rawicz-Sczerbo and his partner in crime, Mitchell Philpott. If those names are familiar, they were the two leading lights behind Quay Software back in the day.
T4A is a pretty interesting bit of kit which has been knocking around for a while but has had a bit of a fire lit under its bot-bot in the last year or two. I’m sure you can find out about it properly elsewhere, but one of the things that are interesting is that it’s built off of Microsoft Dynamics, which opens up a world of Redmond-shaped possibility for how it might work in future. T4A is silent as to the potential integration between Curo and the Bill Gates-funded distortion pedal, sorry, microchip that we’ll be all be getting injected with, but I’m sure someone with a check shirt and a Gab account will be telling us shortly.
Another interesting thing is that T4A is used by St James’s Place as well as a good smattering of independent firms. SJP is building its own thing with Salesforce, so who knows where it will all end up, but if you’re a software vendor SJP isn’t a bad thing to have on your client list. For the record, T4A came out fifth in our State of the Adviser Nation survey of 565 firms with 6% using it, behind Intelliflo (runaway winners with 44% of firms), IRESS, True Potential and Enable. That survey has no SJP in it, for the record.
So what to make of this? Transact has some form in this regard, having taken a stake in client reporting system Sprint Enterprise back in 2014. While that hasn’t appeared to lead to all that much, T4A takes a more profound place in the life of its user firms. In general, where platforms have bought practice management systems (think Praemium and Plum, or Standard Life and Focus Solutions) you get some benefits, but no more than a really, really tight two-way integration with an Intelliflo or similar. Where firms have developed practice management systems as part of an integrated framework (think Benchmark with Fusion and Enable or True Potential) you get a different order of benefit and can achieve really efficient workflows so long as you’re happy to be restricted on platform use.
So although this is clearly a sensible move in terms of embedding Integrafin (as opposed to Transact) more deeply into the lives of more firms over time, I’m not sure that this acquisition is the key to unlocking massive clear, deep, limpid pools of revenue or value. Transact will have to work hard at integration to make the most of what it’s bought, and even when it does there is a huge amount of inertia in terms of firms switching practice management systems. We looked at the experience of firms switching a couple of years ago, and a common response was that it had been the single worst experience of the respondent’s working life. It will take a lot to knock the incumbents off their perch, is all I’m saying.
Nonetheless, there’s potential there and T4A, Plum/Wealthcraft and others are well placed to cause some ripples. The acquisition isn’t the story, then – it’s what comes after.
- HomeGames returns next week, so you’ve got another week off. May I recommend this session with Dave Ferguson of Nucleus to fill the gap? It was our most-watched session last year.
- On a vertical integration tip this week, here’s what Fidelity’s doing with expanding its advice capability.
- New year, new analysis – if you’d like to see Platform Analyser in action for all your platform analysing needs, we’re doing a demo next Thursday – come join us here. Totally independent and no platform pays to be on it. Come and sample its CONSIDERABLE GOODNESS.
- Results season – strong performances from Charles Stanley, Praemium, Nucleus and we expect others. Once again – thank goodness we work in this sector and not, for example, travel.
- And your music choice this week – my plans for some thunderous death metal to wake you all up need to stay iced for another week as it was the fifth anniversary of Bowie’s death the other day. I heard Lazarus on the radio and it stopped me in my tracks all over again. Imagine making art out of your own death. Amazing. So here indeed is Bowie’s Lazarus, and I’m not sure you can do anything better with the next four minutes and eight seconds of your day.
See you next week