Good events are becoming increasingly hard to find. There are several reasons for this, and the prospects of the situation improving in the near-term look bleak. Technical sessions from providers have been drying up – I assume for fear of being deemed to break FCA inducement rules. I fondly remember the pensions education sessions with AJ Bell’s Mike Morrison. Like him, they will be sorely missed.
Under Dennis Hall, the Institute of Financial Planning used to run excellent near-monthly sessions in London. However, since its acquisition by the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment, most sessions are skewed towards the technicalities of asset management as opposed to issues affecting us planners.
Some content has moved to the digital space, with great podcasts and blogs available. That said, it does take some filtering to cut through the sheer volume of choice, and even the best online content can be overly detailed.
Twitter is also a good resource, although it has increasingly become an echo chamber with attraction between like-minded people and those with opinions that differ being regarded as “stupid” or “evil”.
While a big commitment in time, the stand-out event of 2017 was the Personal Finance Society’s Festival of Financial Planning. I look forward to this year’s event but hope it can take on the feedback that some of the best sessions were victims of their own success, often filled to capacity.
A few planners have taken it upon themselves to build their own events. Some have taken conferences in a different direction, like Finalytiq boss Abraham Okusanya’s on the Science of Retirement, and Maven Adviser head Andy Hart’s Humans Under Management.
Al Rush’s Great Pension Transfer Debate was good, really tapping into a prevailing mood last year, but thus I can see it being hard to repeat.
Money Marketing, the FCA and Threesixty, whose services we subscribe to, have occasional gems, but not enough to build an annual programme from. So, beyond these notable exceptions, there is a dearth of choice.
It is not that I am unaware of other events, but the quality significantly falls off. Web conferences or even all-day events on the latest fund trends, how Brexit will (or will not) affect our business or hearing from an ex-politician leave me cold.
I have even received emails inviting me to events where the speakers are yet to be confirmed. I am not sure if this is through arrogance or incompetence but I cannot see why anyone would want to attend an event where the organisers cannot even muster an agenda.
So, with the exception of the honourable mentions above, the greatest value I receive is from events and content created by peers; those who have similar roles and experiences to me, and who take the time to share.
For that reason, I am more than happy to share some of my resources with those that are interested. Please get in touch if so. I also encourage other planners to follow in the footsteps of those who have already created events. All that is required is a solid idea; the support will soon follow. Build it and they will come.
Alistair Cunningham is director of Wingate Financial Planning