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We knew the fourth quarter was going to be tough, but not this tough! The platform industry (all platforms) was in net outflow of £8.2m. (Yes, the entire industry was negative thanks to outflows in workplace/institutional platforms). Adviser platforms were positive, but their net flows halved quarter on quarter to £655m, their lowest total on Fundscape records.

Global stock markets were down, but UK stock markets were up in the third quarter. The net effect was that platform assets flatlined with a tiny 0.2% rise to £906bn. The UK economy also flatlined in the third quarter, narrowly avoiding a recession as high interest rates and inflation weighed on consumer confidence and households struggled with living costs. Gross sales were stable at £32.7bn, but uncertainty, lower disposable incomes and the siren call of cash and gilts, resulted in substantial outflows. Net flows plummeted to just £2.3bn — the worst quarterly net sales on Fundscape’s records —resulting in a net-to-gross sales ratio of just 7%. Seven!

The going got exceptionally tough for the platform industry in the third quarter. The cost-of-living crisis, rampant inflation, the uncertain economic outlook and political instability together had a huge, negative impact on investor confidence. Investors were spooked, abandoned risk in their droves and retreated to the safety of cash.