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Conference call-up

As the summer holidays come to an end, children prepare to return to school and the roads clog up in the mornings, there is time for reflection on the drive into Bri- stol every morning.

One of the issues to contemplate is the start of the conference season. One of the challenges is deciding what will provide most value.

The professional organisations focus on raising the standards of advisers and providing better protection for consumers while encouraging them to save. Anybody can call themselves a financial planner, yet only a small percentage provide a comprehensive financial planning service. Many will offer elements of the process on their way to providing a product-based solution to their clients.

Better protection comes from raising standards and adhering to them. It does not come solely from being part of a professional body and passing exams but it does come from combining exams and the practical application of the job. It comes from being part of a code of ethics and standards that have some teeth and, ultimately, it comes from businesses and individuals investing their own money to attend relevant courses, conferences and events that are hopefully going to improve the way they do business.

Broadening perspectives is key to real development. Comprehensive financial planning is different and we are seeing the results that have been achieved by firms such as Grant Thornton and Park Row following the route to certified financial planner licensee and the change and reorganisation culminating in how they now do business and with whom.

The goal with conferences has always seemed to be bigger is best. That is the right sort of event to enjoy networking sessions, quality workshops and real value added from the environment. Events such as Money Marketing Live provide an excellent forum to hear news and opinion.

The IFP conference this year will fill the hotel and there will be 350 people there representing the top of the profession. There will be a real buzz and all delegates will take away tangible benefits, having enjoyed an excellent programme relevant to the theme of Making a Difference.

They will also have spent time with a group of excellent people and will probably have had a great deal of fun. Delegates will pay to attend and be happy to do so.

Smaller conferences allow us to look at key issues and get the most interaction with delegates. Here, we can learn from our international colleagues who run a series of smaller events over two to five days. We have seen the feedback in the UK to events such as George Kinder’s exceptional Seven Stages of Money two-day workshop.

The professional bodies have a respon- sibility to deliver first-class events and programmes relevant to their audience. The adviser has to think about further investment in their development by being part of the most relevant professional body and achieving the most from their own professional development.

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