3rd May 2013
A confusing week with a few too many "am I having a blonde moment?" episodes.
Just when I thought I'd got my head around the FCA Paper (our Idiot's Guide provides a summary of our views and more importantly those of 13 Platform Big Wigs), it all got a bit Twilight Zoney with Skandia's announcement about their unbundled share classes with rebates. Un-bun-dled-share-clas-ses-with re-bates. No matter how many times I say it, it doesn't get any easier.
It's one of those tricky things which can (and has) lead to howls of derision – but it can offer lower net costs to customers. And, howling competitors, that can be a good thing. Call me simple, but if others could do this, why wouldn't they do it? I've gone a bit headgirly here, but I don't enjoy a debate which doesn't feel fair. Suddenly everyone's scoffing at the estimated 6-8 bps extra for ISA and pension clients, but we've spent the last five years navel gazing about single digit basis points when it comes to platform pricing differentials.
Nonetheless, "unbundled share classes with rebates" (stained?) is a really tricky marketing message to get across and I'm not sure it's a helpful addition to an already confused lexicon. I don't see this as the end of the superclean debate and think it not unlikely that we'll end up with clean, superclean and stained. All very washerwoman for an industry which is obsessed with car analogies.
In all of this we seem to have lost sight of the end-customer as platforms squabble, point score and finger point. Who will survive, I am asked on an almost daily basis. Those who survive will be those who don't obsess about their heritage or their competitors, but their clients.
For those who do want to focus on the customer and build new, innovative, engaging stuff, check out our Top Gear event. We've pulled together three agencies which specialise in social, mobile and apps who will share learning and case studies from our industry and others; we have demos from UK and US groups with tools to address engagement, reporting and the customer journey; KPMG will be sharing some updates into the world of platforms and distribution and we'll be looking at D2C with help from former Interactive Investor CEO Tomas Carruthers. Anyone in charge of building a customer proposition should join us on 4th July for our digital frenzy and drinks to close, kindly sponsored by Origo.
Some stats to close. As at Q1 13, advised platform assets soared by 9% to £244bn – in no small part down to better stock markets. Cofunds posted the biggest £AUA growth with a cool £4.5bn increase; Aviva was the fastest growing platform, increasing assets by 25%, followed by Parmenion then Novia.
Have a lovely long weekend everyone. The sun is shining and the rugrats and I are off to Hampstead Heath, before we hit Willow Farm for a Peppa Pig day on Sunday. I have grown to hate that over-rated lump of bacon but hey ho. For those who missed it earlier in the week, a quick read of Andy Bell's West Side Story-inspired screenplay about the FCA Paper will provide a fun slide into the weekend. Who says that actuaries are weird?!