My preferred methods of learning are usually reading (books, articles, blogs), watching videos and listening to podcasts.
Convincing me to get in the car, fight through traffic and then spend half a day or longer listening to an uninspired selection of speakers is a tough sell.
Perhaps my view of the world has been tainted by traditional product providers and fund providers, and the dross they consistently present. If I never attend another fund manager presentation in my life, it will be too soon. Yet there are some excellent events out there.
On a couple of occasions I attended the IFP Financial Planning Conference at the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales which was just fantastic. Two days of not only brilliant speakers but the whole package; sharing ideas and opinions with other Financial Planners, getting to see the latest developments in software and technology, and some peaceful nights of sleep in a plush hotel away from the kids.
The Personal Finance Society Festival of Financial Planning last autumn was another stand out event and it was no surprise it attracted over 3,000 attendees. I’ve never been to an event for Financial Planners before which contained so much energy, enthusiasm and innovation.
I believe there’s great value in attending events from outside of the world of Financial Planning too, in order to broaden our horizons and find new ideas we can apply within our own profession. I was the only Financial Planner to attend Nudgestock last summer; an exceptionally good one-day conference in sunny Folkestone, hosted by Ogilvy Change as a festival of behavioural science.
My friends rave about CMA Live in Edinburgh each summer, arguably the leading content marketing conference in the UK right now.
Despite my general lack of enthusiasm for most Financial Planning events, it’s great to see a handful of Financial Planners taking the initiative and hosting their own conferences.
Abraham Okusanya knocked the ball out of the park earlier this year with his Science of Retirement Conference, bringing the legendary Nick Murray across the pond to speak. By the time I realised I needed a ticket to this particular event, it was too late.
Andy Hart is not only hosting a conference series with Humans Under management but creating a global movement, with events in London and Dublin, and plans for world domination.
And I must not forget my friend Al Rush and the incredible good he’s doing with The Great Pension Debate, which took place earlier this summer in (very) sunny Port Talbot, and is morphing into an equally important conference to debate cashflow modelling this autumn.
The main similarity between these Financial Planning and other conferences I admire is how much they differ from the traditional idea of a financial services conference. The best have done away with boring venues and stuffy dress codes. The quality of speakers is exceptional and there is plenty of opportunity to chat with other delegates, which along with the speaker content is perhaps the most important element.
Not wishing to be left out of this growing movement to host the conference you want to attend, I decided earlier this year to launch my own annual conference for Financial Planners. The Financial Planner Marketing Summit is taking place next summer and aims to take on board everything I admire from the best conferences out there.
I’ve picked an interesting venue, The Electric Theatre in Guildford, which is about as far removed from a boring conference venue as I could find. I’ve picked a line-up of speakers I personally wanted to hear from. One advantage of being a podcast host is you get to interview a large number of people and find out who are the best speakers! Our headline speaker, Gemita Samarra, is not only a stuntwoman in Bond movies, but is passionate about using creativity as a tool to build sustainable solutions for the world.
Hosting your own conference, as I’m sure Abraham, Andy and Al will all confirm, is a huge commitment in terms of both time and cash. It’s a different prospect to the charity runs and Christmas Lights concerts I’ve staged before.
Product providers and fund providers will, I’m sure, continue to host dull seminars and other events which fail to inspire or convince Financial Planners to place business with them. They should sit up and take notice of the growing trend to host modern, interesting events which deliver value for money.
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Martin Bamford FPFS Chartered Financial Planner SOLLA Accredited Later Life Adviser
Managing Director, Informed Choice