Attendance figures from the PFS show that a total of 3,278 attended the two day event with an estimated 10% of the PFS membership attending, confirming it as the largest Financial Planning event to take place so far in the UK. More than 2,500 people attended the first day of the Glastonbury-themed event at Birmingham's NEC.
Speaking exclusively to Financial Planning Today, Keith Richards said: "The real highight for me is that it went fantastically well. The message is that there is growing confidence from the profession and the Festival has simply put the colour back into Financial Planning. The opportunity is real now for the sector to step up to the next level.
"There were always risks to doing something entirely new but it has been outstanding. Everyone has commented on the positive atmosphere and people have said they have really felt part of a bigger profession. Generally it's a very proud profession. Few professions you see have so many individuals who are as proud as this one but we've allowed people to be negative and that needs to be corrected with events like this."
He said the focus on practitioner-let sessions had paid off and won many plaudits. There were 70-plus seminars and workshop taking place and many were led by practitioners.
Leading Financial Planners who presented included PFS President Sharon Sutton, Pete Matthew, Julie Lord, Steve Martin, Phil Billingham, Alan Smith, Damien Rylett, from the US Life Planning guru George Kinder and many others. Expert investment speakers included Trevor Greetham of Royal London Asset Management, Graham Abell of M&G, Edward Bonham Carter of Jupiter and 7IM founder Justin Urquhart Stewart plus speakers from Blackrock and other fund managers
The colourful theme for the event was designed to combat the 'grey' image of financial services, he said. Apart from nearly 100 exhibitors, there was live music and entertainment centred on a large 'village green.'
Mr Richards added that the positive, upbeat message of the festival had helped remind Financial Planners that they "often under-estimate how key an enabler they are in shaping people's lives" and what an important role they had to play in society.
"We're in a new era and we need to evolve our role post-RDR," he said.
In terms of next year's national events, the PFS is still considering options but he said the professional body was looking at two national conference events in a more traditional style with a possible return to a large-scale Festival of Financial Planning in 2019 on the cards due to the success of the event this year.
Feedback from attendees was generally very positive with some saying it had been the best Financial Planning event they had attended. The event trended in 7th position on Twitter, the PFS said, and social media was used extensively.
The event was billed as a festival-style celebration of Financial Planning, designed to celebrate the Financial Planning profession post-RDR. It featured dozens of seminars, keynote speakers, workshops and a number of fun elements including live music, a radio station presented by leading Financial Planner Martin Bamford of Informed Choice and five separate 'stages' featuring speakers, including one venue with a capacity for nearly 2,000 attendees.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable gave a keynote on the risk of Brexit to planners to close the event on Wednesday. He was one of many well known speakers including England’s World Cup-winning rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward and two former Pensions Ministers, Baroness Ros Altman and Sir Steve Webb.