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Credit where credit is due

There are some events in life which make us realise how precious our existence is and appreciate our lifestyles. Some even remind us of the immense value that we provide in the financial-advice profession, more than any other except, perhaps, the medical sector.

The disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina is just one example of this. But for me, and no doubt thousands of others, the devastation in New Orleans carries extra poignancy.

Less than three months ago, I attended this year’s Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) annual meeting in New Orleans, where I was enjoying and sharing, having fun, gaining wider knowledge and making new friends with people from more than 60 countries.

To now see the misery and degradation of human life inside and outside the New Orleans Convention Centre, which is where we were, sends shivers down my spine.

MDRT is my annual battery-recharge and a reminder of the fact that we make a massive difference to people’s lives, and that in turn carries immense responsibilities. The hurricane was a further reminder that what we do is to provide monies when it is needed. It is a shame our regulators and the media do not seem to understand, value or appreciate what we do.

Closer to home, do the families of the July 7 victims care whether a cost of services key facts document was issued correctly? Or, how much commission was earned by the adviser or whether a fee could have been better? Or, perhaps, they are just more concerned with how much the life assurance policy will pay out.

I cannot see how any of the depolarisation process is helping consumers to do the right thing. It has brought more confusion than clarity. Do clients read and understand any of what is given to them and do they listen when you tell them?

For those who embrace and welcome these extra layers of complexity, bureaucracy and regulation, do not go to an MDRT annual meeting – you will not understand what the spirit of MDRT is about and probably won’t comprehend what this great profession is about.

The main platform sessions at this year’s MDRT covered a range of subjects from motivation, inspiration, healthy living tips, global investment strategies, providing outstanding customer service, stories of human endeavour, charitable activity, mentoring and more.

Larry Winget is one of the US’s foremost speakers on success but he has a very different and innovative style. He believes most of us have a complicated life and take it way too seriously and that we need to lighten up, take responsibility, be more flexible and keep it all in perspective. In his entertaining main platform speech, he introduced a T-shirt bearing the slogan: “Shut Up, Stop Whining and Get a Life”. I can think of several people in the industry who could do with getting the upside down version of this T-shirt, so they can read it to themselves on regular basis.

Focus sessions on a wider range of topics were also discussed, such as charging fees, practice management, servicing the seniors mar-kets, tax planning, holistic financial planning and sales ideas.

As well as my speech, IFAs were well represented with presentations from David Batchelor and Helen Jenkins and a speech from Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who was recovering from his abortive ascent of Mount Everest.

Clearly, with such incredible memories from MDRT and New Orleans, the tragedy carries extra sadness. But looking forward, all the UK attendees are proud of Caroline Banks, who has been selected as chair of next year’s main platform organising committee. She will be responsible for putting together a collection of some of the world’s best speakers, in San Diego, California.

My question to you is: will you be there to share and learn, or do I need to buy you Larry Winget’s T-shirt?

Bhupinder Anand is managing director at Anand Associates

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