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IFP conference diary

This week I travelled to Manchester for the Institute of Financial Planning conference and spent two days hearing delegates and speakers tackling the big issues facing the industry.

Some aspects of the conference were to be expected, such as discussions on the effects of the RDR and the fundamentals of financial planning. Others were not, namely the four white-clad break dancers who back flipped onto the dance floor at Tuesday night’s gala dinner to entertain the crowd.

And what a crowd it was with the gentlemen donning their dinner jackets and the women glammed up in their best ball gowns.

When the dinner table conversation turned to work, my fellow diners exchanged what were often opposing views about what is happening in the industry.

Predictably the conversation started on the RDR, with one financial planner saying many advisers will need to take a step back from the professional financial planner status.

He said: “There is no need for 80 per cent of advisers to become professional planners. People will need to step back. I really can’t see anything wrong with giving simple advice because it is better than no advice at all.”

One of his colleagues disagreed, insisting that the proposals will put quality financial advice out of the reach of many consumers.

He said: “It will be a very selective market. The reality is that the average saver and investor won’t be able to afford their services anymore.”

Continuing on the topic of savers, a member of my group said saving in the UK is down because Brits lack the required discipline to regularly put money aside. This was met with a round of nods from the table.

The conversation then turned to the market, with a general consensus that advisers are positive about the profession, but negative about the economy.

An investment manager at my table predicted that the US dollar will “go down the toilet” following the US Federal Reserve’s decision to decrease interest rates, while another IFA mused that while there might be short term fluctuations, capitalism means the markets must recover.

He said: “My value to my clients is to stop them selling when the market goes down.”

Overall, it seems the key phrase of the conference, let alone the dinner, which I heard more times than I could count, was: “It’s not market timing, it’s time in the market.”

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

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