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Fit for the future

When the Institute of Financial Planning conference committee met nearly 12 months ago, it was, for a change, quite easy to think through an appropriate theme for our annual conference. While thinking this through, it would have been difficult to predict the type of year that we have all just experienced.

Fit for the Future enabled us to focus on a number of key aspects affecting advisers and financial planning businesses in particular. This year has seen the retail distribution review consultation paper and there is a three-year window to prepare businesses and individuals for the opportunities that undoubtedly exist. 2012 will coincide with the London Olympics and there is much we can learn from the world of sport to measure goals, objectives and performance.

It is obvious that some businesses and individuals are not going to be able to meet the challenges set down by the regulator and others. but the opportunities for those that can are tremendous and the IFP conference will cover all these subjects. Business planning and transitional issues will feature strongly and there will be plenty of mentors and other leading planners on hand to discuss the how-to of taking strategies forward.

Leading business consultants from the UK, Australia, Canada and the States will be lending their thoughts to the direction required over the next few years to help hone business strategies and plans. A number of the leading UK financial planners representing small, medium and large businesses will be outlining areas where they have been successful in building compelling and successful business models.

Over the years, particular aspects of financial planning have become more powerful as the planner looks to articulate the value of their service to clients. There has always been a struggle to move the value away from the product or regulated area yet there is so much to capture from within the client relationship.

When advisers move from the more transactional delivery, the comprehensive approach takes on a new meaning and moves the focus from the product to the client. This is probably the most consistent feedback we get from candidates who have been through the chartered financial planner programme where they have experienced a genuine benefit and an ability to improve their client proposition and delivery.

Cashflow modelling and effective use of other planning tools create huge value to clients and the financial planning process. It is amazing that so many advisers still do not use these systems.

Lifestyle planning is an aspect of financial planning which enables planners to build a deeper relationship and understanding of clients. The relationship is intended to be long term and trust is usually the most important agenda item for the client. Strong skills that are needed to improve communication with the client are essential and there are a number of speakers at conference focusing on this crucial area.

The learning and fun from good conferences always returns an early dividend for the investment in time and money attending. The IFP event is no exception and delegates (non-members as well as members) will undoubtedly be honed as they leave the Celtic Manor truly fit for the future.

Nick Cann is chief executive of the Institute of Financial Planning

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