My introduction to the IFP conference consisted of a bottle opener and an endless stream of marketing emails. The bottle opener was the more memorable of the two, while the emails and my repeated use of the delete key are an ongoing frustration. Event sponsorship is understandable, but I am left wondering what price my email address went for and rueing the small box I might have ticked that could have saved me from it all.
I was attending the IFP conference for the first time. However, it felt like a reunion of sorts. Such is the power of Twitter, I already knew many delegates, or at least felt like I did. A few awkward stares at name badges and zooming in on twitter avatars and I realised I recognised many more as well.
The conference was intense – the sessions, the stands, the people. I wanted to learn as much as I could in the three days. I would start to think about how I could improve myself and my firm, and then it was on to the next session. I had to book time out of my diary the next week to sit down and digest it all, for fear of losing any brief insights I might have gained.
The conference was titled ‘Back to the Future’. Catchy, and a great film, but I did not sense any theme running through the conference. The variety of sessions allowed people to create their own conference, with some excellent keynote speakers thrown into the mix. Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller’s session was particularly enjoyable. It allowed my work brain to switch off momentarily. Some entertaining stories from life at MI5 were contrasted with the stark reality of the risks and restrictions some people face in their daily lives to keep us all safe. I am already using ideas picked up from other keynote speakers, including Bill Bachrach and Derek Mills.
The hotel, the facilities and the team from the IFP all helped to make the event run smoothly. No wonder they choose to return to Celtic Manor each year. It’s an ideal location that keeps everyone together and well looked after. This allows the conversations and meetings to carry on between sessions and late into the evening.
My lasting memories are of a profession that is determined to keep improving, whether that is us as individuals, our back office processes or the propositions we offer our clients. It was inspiring that even the best firms are still developing. The specific topics of fund charges, tracking errors, ethics and professional relationships are not new, but were all well covered. No doubt they will all be on the agenda again next year addressing the latest issues to consider.
I have now experienced both the PFS and IFP conferences. The decision now is which to attend in 2014?
David Hearne is a wealth management adviser at Satis Asset Management