Two big bits of news this week – the cash rebate hoopla and Monday’s publication of Pulitzer-prize winning research, The (plat)Form Guide Issue 5.
On cash rebates, for what it’s worth, we add our voice to the majority and agree that banning cash rebates seems a contrived and awkward ‘solution’. As long as clear mandates for truly transparent and consistent disclosure are in place, we think cash rebates are the best workable solution. Let’s face it – if you get such different providers and business models as Fidelity, Standard Life and Transact agreeing, it would seem to suggest that evil self-serving is not the agenda here. I have heard very genuine private beliefs that this is the best solution for all.
This quarter’s research has started to morph into a broader analysis of retail distribution – as well as platforms. We think this is telling of a maturing market where they become a part of the landscape – but not the only feature. After all, 77% of new business in Q4 was still written off-platform. Notwithstanding adviser platforms grow apace, posting 8.5% growth in Q4, and there are 11 platforms with more than £1 billion at time of writing.
Advisers told us what were the most important platform features for them – usability, low charges and fund choice. Lots of things often touted as ‘must-haves’ didn’t get a mention. We also asked them about the integration of back office software – 65% of advisers we spoke to were against the idea of any merging of back office software and platforms.
We analysed the best selling funds and sectors – Jupiter’s Merlin Income Portfolio topped the charts in Q4 last year. Bond funds and balanced funds ruled the roost.
Finally, we have changed our Platforum Leaderboard criteria this year. We think that adviser user feedback is a critical component but we needed to augment the picture and include an external expert assessment of financial strength. To that end, we are grateful to AKG for sharing data with us. With these re-adjusted criteria, Transact top this quarter’s Platforum Leaderboard, with Standard Life taking second spot.
Although we haven’t won a Pulitzer prize yet (that was a joke o litigious brains), we think this edition’s pretty good. More detail on our website.
Have a great weekend all. I’m off to Kings Cross to look at trains with my son (how life has changed, my friends!) I am unable to get away from platforms.