Here we are at session number 75 , and we’re going to be talking about direct investment platforms once again. I have covered platforms briefly way back in Session 11, and then in more depth, looking specifically at direct investment platforms in Session 37. Today I am speaking to Mark Polson from financial services consultancy the lang cat. Mark is an expert in platforms and their different foibles, pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages and the like. I think you’re going to enjoy my conversation with Mark.
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These days, investment platforms are everywhere. Often called wraps both within the industry and outside it, these websites offer the ability to invest across hundreds if not thousands of funds, and into different types of tax wrapper, such as a pension, ISA or General Investment Account. They provide tools for researching investments, they will report your consolidated holdings every six months on paper or 24/7 online. Thanks to these systems, investing is easier than it was 20 years ago when everything was far more fractured.
Platforms have become a commodity though, like these things always do, and that means that as prices come down and functionality increases, it has become more and more difficult to choose one platform over another. I found that out while researching for Session 37.
As a financial planner, I use platforms all the time and have to have a pretty good grasp of the available market. This comes down to research and consultancies like the lang cat have sprung up to cater to that need. But what if you are a direct investor who doesn’t want to pay for the services of a financial planner? How can you find your way through the maze of direct investment platforms without getting lost?
Good news! The lang cat have just released a new comprehensive guide for direct investors, and it is this which prompted me to reach out to Mark Polson, the head honcho at the lang cat to talk to him about it. Mark is one of the most naturally funny guys I’ve ever met, so I’ve been looking forward to chatting to him.
Without further ado, here’s the conversation with Mark:
As you know by now, I tend not to transcribe the interviews, but here are the questions I asked Mark
- Who are you and what do you do?!
- Can you give us a brief history of platforms and how they got to the stage they're at now?
- What is next in the world of platforms? What's the next big thing?
- Do you think there is still a place for off-platform investing in this world of open-architecture platforms and wraps?
- Are there platforms which can enable investors to do their own financial planning, as well as just investing? Is it possible that platforms could make advisers obsolete as the technology gets better?
- Tell us about the work you have done on the new report for direct investors. Can you share the main findings?
- What are the main criteria for choosing a direct investment platform?
- Anything investors should be wary of or look to avoid?
- How can people find out more about the work you're doing?
I hope you found that useful. The best bit of advice from Mark, among many gems, was that it is important to know yourself, your foibles, your reaction to risk events etc, before you choose your platform.
This week’s reviews
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Next Session Announcement
Next time I’m going to be chatting to Robin Powell from Ember Television who has made a fantastic documentary called How To Win The Loser’s Game which is all about the investment management industry. The show includes interviews with industry luminaries such as Jack Bogle, the founder of Vanguard Investments – you may remember that Abraham Okusanya mentioned Mr Bogle when I chatted to him back in Session 74. If you have a question on this subject, or any other financial query that you want answering here on the show, then the best way to do that is to leave me a voicemail at meaningfulmoney.tv/askpete
That's it for this session of the MM podcast, I hope it was helpful. If I missed anything or if you have any questions, please leave them comments section below.
I hope you enjoyed this session. Thanks for listening – I'll talk to you next time.