You can tell A-Day is getting closer. I have been involved with two presentations which both focused on the changes to pensions. The first was from an IFA on what it would mean for overall financial planning and the opportunities that would be created. It was fascinating and I also had the chance to speak on the topic of investing for Sipps. The second was the last of our View from the River parties. Believe me, we went out with a bang.To take advantage of the exceptional view we enjoy of the Thames, we decided some years ago to invite IFAs and journalists to our offices. We elected to take a simple theme that was a hot topic in the financial services industry and invite well known figures to share their thoughts on an informal basis. Previous speakers have included Paul Smee and Ned Cazalet, who spoke eloquently on with-profits funds a couple of years ago. We wanted to pick a topic that we felt should be at the forefront of advisers’ minds. What better than Sipps? We invited John “Mr Sipp” Moret of Suffolk Life. His task was to talk about the marketplace as a whole. This is where the earlier presentation was so useful. The IFA addressing a clearly interested audience made the observation that after A-Day, a Sipp portfolio could easily comprise cases of Champagne, a holiday villa, a yacht, a Jaguar XK120 and even a block of flats. That assembling such a diverse collection of assets might bring with it the odd complication or two was also explained but it made clear that the landscape for pension planning is changing in a very big way. This brought to mind the debate which has been running over portfolio diversification and the way in which different asset classes might be applied to portfolio construction. You need to have a clear understanding of what a particular asset might deliver in terms of income, capital performance and so forth and also to know the extent to which the returns might correlate with other assets. In this way, it should be possible to build a mix that either de-risks a portfolio or delivers potential returns that can be reasonably quantified – or even both. So categorising and understanding assets is becoming an important element of a portfolio manager’s job. But to return to the View from the River event, the turnout was tremendous. Judging from the reaction afterwards, Sipps seem set to be the real growth area in personal financial planning over the next few years. From today’s 120,000 plans, estimates of growth to 500,000 by 2010 were, in John Moret’s opinion, likely to fall well short of the mark. If this area of pension planning does not yet feature in your armoury of skills, it is time to bring yourself up to speed.