There definitely wasn’t the same buzz about the conference as there has been in previous years. A big motivation for taking precious time out of the office to attend any conference is the opportunity to chat to other delegates. If I don’t get the impression that enough of the people I know, like and trust will be there, I am less inclined to book my own ticket.
Of course the other big reason for conference attendance is the speakers. Reviewing the names now, the line-up was impressive and there are a couple of speakers I would have loved to have seen. Amongst the usual suspects were speakers with the ability to bring a unique perspective on the job we do, including Caspar Berry and Charlotte Hawkins.
But the buzz wasn’t there. I had a column running in Tweetdeck for the duration of the conference which presented a trickle of conference tweets, compared to the flood we see from other events. Delegates may well have been so engrossed in every session and breakout that they had no time for tweeting. Perhaps the hotel had problems with its Internet connection.
It was certainly a poor reflection on the atmosphere of the conference to see so little online activity compared to previous years.
This piece isn’t though about a conference I decided not to attend. It is a response to Dan Atkinson’s recent reflection on the CISI one year on from its ‘merger’ with the IFP. His summary of the challenges and progress over the past year was excellent, highlighting where things have worked well and where there is still room for improvement.
I look at the past year through the lens of a CFP professional for nearly a decade, a past IFP branch chairman and passionate supporter of the IFP. My initial shock at the announcement of the merger, and its terms, was quickly replaced with excitement about the opportunities of becoming a member of a larger professional body with such prestige.
One of the early benefits was the ability to claim a second Chartered title, which for this academic underachiever was especially appealing.
Since then however, I’ve been generally underwhelmed. The suited, booted and buttoned-up feel of the announcements made at the IFP Conference last October (when the CISI merger deal details were explained to delegates) continue to permeate through my experience of the organisation.
The most recent branch meeting I attended was far more serious and formal than IFP branch meetings of old. I guess when you mix with a bunch of Oxbridge educated investment managers, sharp suits and old school ties are inevitable.
Something I loved about the IFP was it’s more intimate, almost cosy brand. We got to know the team at the IFP by name. I would struggle today to name a single person at the CISI. The communications from the IFP were regular and informative. As members, we got the sense we knew what was going on.
In contrast, I rarely receive an email from the CISI and their magazine, which landed on my desk this morning, has none of the human interest which elevated the old IFP magazine to its ‘always read’ status.
I love change, I thrive on it. It would be difficult to succeed in the ever evolving world of Financial Planning without a penchant for change. And I’m willing to give the CISI more time to understand the incredible organisation is subsumed last year.
It of course imperative that as members we take the lead in a membership organisation, and I am eternally grateful to those who have already stepped up and done so post-merger. There is a fantastic opportunity over the next twelve months for the CISI to embrace the things that were great about the IFP, continue to improve their relationship with former IFP members and deliver what we always loved about the organisation.