Gideon Osborne always likes to pull a few crowd-pleasers out of his red box on budget day. Last year it was pension freedom (anno pensionis TM) and the personal savings allowance, this year it was the introduction of the LISA (lifetime ISA) and the significant rise in the NISA allowance (new combined ISA). In light of these changes, we’ve had a few requests asking us to set out how product trends might change over the next five years.
We’re in an extended lock-down phase until various PLCs have reported their annual results to the stock exchange. The Platform Report should be published in full on or around 18th March 2016. In the meantime, although we can’t give you any detail, we can provide you with some high-level platform numbers to keep you going:
As the New Year dawns, there are three obsessions in the UK: resolutions, January sales, and an increasingly popular trend is Dry January — a chance to give our livers a break after the Christmas season. So here's our take on all three.
New Year Resolutions
One of the things that we often berate ourselves about is that we don’t communicate regularly enough, so one of Fundscape’s resolutions is to stay in touch and blog at least once or twice a month. And we may even stretch to weekly blogs if we have anything interesting or exciting to tell you about.
Here are a few snippets from the Q215 data to keep you going until the report comes out in August.
Following demand from other platforms, this quarter we have added Aegon to the platform universe. Aegon does not provide data to Fundscape but releases quarterly results with sufficient information (assets under administration and gross/net flows) to be included on a quarterly basis. We estimate breakdowns, and because its quarterly results come out after our publishing date, we estimate the current quarter and provide actuals for the previous quarter (as we do with Hargreaves Lansdown).
How has the platform industry performed in the first quarter of the year? With the UK getting ready for pension freedom and the general election, financial services were under considerable strain. Because of reporting restrictions, our full report will not be published until mid May, but to tide you over until then, we have a few headline numbers to share with you:
Our quarterly Platform Report was published a couple of weeks ago. It’s popular with platforms and fund managers as it allows them to benchmark themselves and monitor overall trends in the platform space.
Some platforms are reluctant to share their quarterly figures (sales and asset growth), so the report is confidential and circulation is restricted. We release headline industry figures to the press and throw in the top three platforms for assets, asset growth, gross and net sales. However, the large multi-proposition platforms can often obscure developments in certain areas of the industry. As a result, we also analyse platforms by their different propositions, which include fund platform, wrap, corp/DC, institutional, sub-advised and D2C. Some of the proposition breakdowns are estimated, but we try to get as much guidance on our estimates as possible from the platforms themselves and from their competitors.
It’s been very busy in the D2C platform world and competition is hotting up as the April deadline for unbundled platform pricing approaches. Hargreaves Lansdown was the first to announce its post-RDR charging structure and was followed by Fidelity, Barclays and a host of other discount brokers and direct platforms in the days and weeks that followed.
For those of us forced to get round London in the awful weather and no tube network, what a nightmare week! On the financial services front, it was fairly quiet until Old Mutual Wealth announced its new fund range and portfolio management service yesterday afternoon and then the twitterati got busy. Old Mutual Wealth includes two separate businesses — the Skandia platform and Old Mutual Global Investors (OMG), the fund manager arm.
Prior to RDR, the platform was able to wrestle some pretty good rebates out of fund managers, but in the post-RDR world, securing the same kind of pricing from fund managers was likely to prove a challenge unless the platform could demonstrate that it had distribution influence. But even more important was securing distribution deals for its in-house fund manager, OMG. As a result, a combination of the Skandia platform plus a range of well-priced, sub-advised funds and solutions targeted at cost-conscious advisers became the strategy. The message is clear: we are a one-stop shop for restricted advisers.
Are you, like me, wondering where the year has disappeared to? We’re now officially in the fourth quarter, and we’ve just sent our third quarter data requests to platforms. One platform was way ahead of us, sending its data through on 1st October before we’d even asked for it (well done TDDirect)!
This will probably be the last time we collect the data manually as we’ll be migrating data providers onto a database from next quarter. That means that instead of sending us an excel template, platforms will be able to log in to our system and upload the data directly. It will save us a huge amount of time, so naturally we’re really excited.
It’s been a busy week this week. We’ve been finalising our new Platform database, which tracks platform assets and flows. We’ve now got seven and a half years’ history in the database and we’re starting to roll it out to platforms. Our first visit was to the market intelligence team at Cofunds who have already subscribed to the database (it’s a steal!) and we’re making appointments with other platforms. Please get in touch if you’d like to know more.
There’s a lot of interest around our confidential reports, so we’ve been working on enhanced security measures, particularly for the Platform Report. We’ve decided to go down the digital certification route which means that only users that have been certified by us will be able to read, copy or print the report. These features will make it impossible to transfer the report to non-authorised people electronically. We’ll be contacting all platform report subscribers to take them through the process of getting themselves a digital ID either individually or as a company.
It's been a long time since our blog has been updated, but that's because we've been soooooo busy!
So what have we been up to? Well, back in May we launched our Platform Report, which went down well with both platforms and fund managers. The platforms are particularly keen on our statistics by business segments (institutional, direct, wrap etc) and so we expect this quarterly report to go from strength to strength. We're in the process of talking to various platforms, including D2C ones, and hope to have them on board in the next few months.
It's been an incredibly busy week. Last week we launched the new Distribution Report in association with Matrix and we've been getting lots of interest from people (thank you). This week we're very pleased to announce the launch of our brand new Platform Report. This will be in the style of the Pridham Report, with lots of data, commentary and insight. We're also starting coverage by business segment, which will allow us to track developments by type of platform eg wrap or institutional business etc. For more information, please send me an email.