Why ants can’t see humans (allegedly)

I don’t suppose this is true, but I read somewhere that even when we’re standing virtually on top of them ants can’t see us because we’re too big for their eyes to be able to make us out.

I wonder if the reaction (or rather lack of reaction) of the financial services industry – and specifically the intermediary sector – to Fidelity’s new ISA Guidance campaign may be working in the same way.

As investment campaigns go, it is objectively huge – in the first couple of weeks, it was appearing in up to half a dozen spaces in single issues of mainstream newspapers, as well as everywhere else.  But I’d say it’s conceptually even huger – the first time, I’m pretty sure, that a leading asset manager has run a campaign specifically proposing to help consumers make investment choices.

Of course Fidelity are not in the regulatory sense giving “advice,” and they can’t use the A-word.  But to real people (if not to regulators), “guidance” is a rather poncier word for what’s basically the same thing, and guidance is definitely what Fidelity are offering.

You might imagine that this would have caused a huge furore in the industry.  After all, product providers have been tippy-toeing around the whole area of advice/guidance/information/anything-that-looks-even-remotely-likely-to-eat-the-smallest -mouthful-of-the-intermediary’s-lunch for well over 20 years.  And right now, things have got to such a fever pitch that literally dozens of providers are more or less good to go with launching D2C services of one sort or another, but are hovering on the brink for fear of becoming primary targets for those advisers’ anger and resentment.

And yet, while others continue to hover, Fidelity have now simply gone and done it – they’ve clambered up out of the trench and begun advancing, with no zigzagging, smoke or covering fire, directly towards the advisers’ lines.  And the reaction has been….nothing.  If you search “Fidelity ISA Guidance” on Money Marketing or New Model Adviser, you get nothing.  If you look for incensed comments from the usual claque of incensed IFAs you get nothing.  Just because I thought I should, I just searched the Financial Adviser website, and got…nothing.

Remarks about the curious behaviour of the dog in the night-time would seem to apply, and of course it may be that the dog is about to launch a volley of furious barking.  But I’m not so sure.  I think the moral of the story is that Fidelity have launched by far the biggest and noisiest raid yet into what advisers think of as their territory, and no-one has paid them a scrap of attention.

I’m thinking that all this is likely to encourage a lot of the members of the hovering-on-the-brink brigade to clamber up their ladders and follow Fidelity across no-man’s land.  I only hope they won’t find that the adviser army’s machine-gunners have loaded up and found their range.

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