In Tennessee Williams's play The Night of the Iguana, the protagonist Shannon, a defrocked American minister, undertakes a literal and metaphorical journey that brings him into close contact with three women - Charlotte, a teenage nymphette, the recently widowed Maxine, an old friend, and genteel artist Hannah. And I'd like to think nobody has ever started a piece on wrap platforms like that.
Yes, it's another themed issue of RealAdviser - of course it's deliberate - so that, where we majored on the FSA's Treating Customers Fairly regime last month, this time it's wraps. You'll find discussion of the topic in our Viewpoint article overleaf, in our Adviser Profile, in the Adviser Clinic and in columns from Justin Urquhart Stewart and Dave Ferguson.
Overkill, perhaps? We don't think so - although it's possibly just as well the RealAdviser Inquiry on wraps has always been scheduled for next month. Certainly the industry isn't short of people willing to cite wrap as a key development in the evolution of financial advice and it was certainly a concern for the adviser who sent in the question addressed in this month's Adviser Clinic.
This related to whether, with wraps now offered by investment management groups, life and pensions companies, adviser consortiums and fund supermarkets, there was any real differences between these options. Which brings us back to my literary intro because, while the ex-Reverend Shannon was faced with some pretty clear differentiators between Charlotte, Maxine and Hannah, financial advisers are, at least in that regard, not so blessed.
Our three experts have done a terrific job setting out some key considerations advisers should bear in mind when sizing up a potential wrap partner - as does Justin in his column - but one cannot help wonder how the formation of the new 'platform committee' by five former competitors, outlined overleaf, might serve to help our bemused adviser.
Certainly Dave Ferguson has a few thoughts on the subject - as one might expect from the chief executive of a wrap platform outside the select quintet. In the future, however, we can only hope platform differentiators come down to criteria such as price and service and not whether anyone is included or not in a self-appointed gang.
Julian Marr, editorial director
'Necessary steps' taken
Penalty payments and enforcement policy
Fees as low as 0.04%
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Only 9,486 applied for the benefit in 12 months