You know we love an experiment at Fundscape, don’t you? Well, here at Fundscape Park we decided to have a bit of educational fun and understand our own investing behaviours with a friendly football-based investment competition, Fundscape's Fantasy Fund League. The rules are simple and don’t involve a ball or use of the foot. Each player gets to pick up to five investments — any listed investment such as direct equities, funds, of course, exchange-traded funds, and investment trusts.
Standard Life today announced a price decrease for its Elevate platform for all new clients from 1st April 2019. This is a great move by Standard Life. It demonstrates a commitment to its core financial planning market and willingness to share economies of scale with advisers and end-consumers.
Well, this month it gave us the Wealth 50 — a slimmed down version of its old Wealth 150 list, which has been a key fund choice influencer since 2003. But given the amount of grief and badmouthing it's attracted from Terry Smith et al, you would be forgiven for thinking that Hargreaves Lansdown was nothing but a brash parvenu muscling on the platform game instead of an experienced platform provider with 30+ years in the industry. But is any of the criticism justified? let's find out.
For the last 10 years we've produced annual five-year projections based on industry trends and the economic outlook and their likely impact on the platform industry. 2018 has been a challenging environment for the industry with some platforms taking a far larger slice of the action than others. Despite the challenging environment, the overwhelming consensus from platform leaders is that platforms that can support advisers to support their clients have a long-term sustainable future.
The FCA’s interim platform report has already been well and truly thrashed out by trade journals and other research houses. However, we believe that our tools and research are ideal for proactively engaging with the regulator’s long-term objectives and have reviewed the interim report on that basis. But first let’s start with the basics: why, who and what.
Nucleus has finally confirmed what we’d suspected for sometime: it’s going to float on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market. Transact was the first to take the plunge on 2nd March and in the same month AJ Bell announced that it was preparing a flotation in late 2018/early 2019. Nucleus’s announcement came on 2nd July, but it’s working to a punchy calendar and plans to have the whole thing tied up by late July, which is pretty fast by anyone’s book.
We compared Gatekeepers in 2017 to 2016 to look for any emerging trends or changing preferences. But it's safe to say that 2017 can be characterised as a year when Gatekeepers continued to stick with big-name funds, despite their non-appearance as top performers. Meanwhile lesser-known funds outperformed, but were unable to get on fund selectors' radars or if they had been noticed, get fund selectors to up their exposure.
The introduction of transaction cost disclosure was intended to provide greater transparency. However, with an utter disregard for common sense that characterised MiFID2’s generally inglorious introduction, the regulators provided fund managers with two diametrically opposed calculation methodologies. As a result, fund managers, ACDs, data providers and platforms have between them contributed to organisational chaos.
After almost two decades of the market being dominated by three or four technology providers, there are several new platform technologies emerging. There’s been a lot of noise about Hubwise and Embark, but Seccl will soon be out there drumming up business too. All of them have the potential to disrupt the platform market. Their competitive advantage lies in the fact that they provide pared down, focused propositions that have none of the legacy technology and inefficiencies in existing technologies.
ISA activity was less pronounced in the third quarter of 2017, with sales dropping to £1.5bn. However, pensions picked up the slack and generated around 70% of platforms’ net flows. This was due to a combination of investors exercising their pension freedom rights and the steady pipeline of DB transfers.