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A first-timer’s view of the IFP conference

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

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  1. Interesting. I suspected that the conference was geared to people flogging their wares from previous experiences. It isn’t always necessary as the excellent Invesco Perpetual Intelligence Seminars prove.
    So 3 days out of the office – what exactly did you learn? I ask because this is the only reason I attend conferences and seminars. The lady from MI5 might well have been entertaining, but I don’t go to conferences to be entertained. If I want entertainment I do that in my free time – probably at less cost too.

    I scanned the programme carefully. On the Monday there were three interesting half hour sessions – and they all clashed. So it was a matter of choosing one and losing two. (Commodities, management tools and classic beta)

    After going through the whole programme I found that Monday had one hour Tuesday had an hour and a half and Wednesday had 1 hour 15 minutes of programme that I judged to be of value to me. That’s a total of 3 hours forty-five minutes over 3 days. Out of the office with an outlay of over £500, not to mention what it costs to be out of the office. I do rather think that 3 days is a bit OTT.

    Compare this to the Morningstar Conference. 2 days – easy access. Some stuff not much use, but a lot that was. (I know Wales is near Bristol, but for the majority it’s a bit out on a limb. Birmingham, Manchester or even London are centrally placed with good connections). Why does it have to be at a golf venue? Far more important that the seminars and lectures have tables for the delegates to sit at rather than balance notes and papers on knees.

    I really don’t want to be hyper critical of the IFP who I think on balance is a valuable and worthwhile organisation. They do offer some very good seminars through the year – at which you can really learn. I just find it a great pity that they rather seem to lose their way (as far as I’m concerned) when it comes to the annual conference. I have a feeling that making money out of it is the first prerequisite and everything else comes next.

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