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Million dollar baby

I don’t know if it was Toronto or if it was the balmy weather. Maybe it was the speakers or the eclectic nightlife or perhaps the leadership. Or maybe it was the delegates.

I cannot put my finger on any specific reason but what I do know is that, putting it all together, what an amazing Million Dollar Round Table annual meeting it was last month.

The British contingent, however, was again disappointing, with only a couple of new joiners. How embarrassing that smaller economies and professions than ours such as Poland, Trinidad and Thailand sent more delegates than us.

I presume that those who do not attend MDRT are so busy complaining about the state of the industry that the concept of sharing ideas and positive motivation from 8,000 of the world’s best advisers is simply a waste of time. Perhaps those advisers who do attend are seen as losers by the rest of the UK industry as having no idea of what real success is.

If so, please tell me where I am making a mistake as I do not feel that I know everything. I have attended the 12 annual meetings and I have learned something each time I go. To achieve genuine success in this great profession of ours, MDRT is essential.

I do not mean success in terms of income or funds under management but in terms of a complete understanding of the role we play as advisers, as family people and members of our communities. MDRT calls this the “whole person” concept, finding the right balance and priorities in life.

I also need to berate the Personal Finance Society for their arrogance. The MDRT annual meeting is the biggest conference in the financial services calendar, with the date fixed two years in advance, yet the PFS organised their “PFS retreat” as a competing event. Given that MDRT affords the PFS the respect of insisting that an MDRT member must be also be a PFS member, this is a snub and an insult. The PFS has not even responded to my written complaint.

On a more upbeat note, however, the MDRT had some of the world’s finest speakers, motivating us to think deeper and wider and urging us to implement the meeting’s theme of “changing lives”.

Intellectual capital expert Nick Bontis told us that all the information that exists in the world will double every 11 hours and talked about how to transform this threat into a sustainable competitive edge.

Olympic gold medalwinning gymnast Mary Lou Retton explained what it takes to score a perfect 10 while gerontologist Ken Dychtwald explained how the age wave of baby boomers urgently need our help.

Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch (great name) explained why she gave up the position of colonel in the US Army to dedicate her life to helping immigrant Hispanic families become more involved in their children’s education, urging us to each “live our legacy”.

David Buckwald is a New York-based adviser who lost 51 clients in a single day in the 9/11 tragedy. By paying out over $30m of life insurance benefits, it was a moving reminder of what it is that we do for our clients.

Nanda Parrodo was a survivor of the 1972 Andes plane crash and he showed great humility in sharing his incredible story of the strength of the human spirit to survive against all odds.

Alongside the informative and motivational, three afternoons of focus sessions showed the delegates innovative ways in which they could better serve their clients through new sales and practice management ideas and techniques.

This was simply one of the best MDRT meetings ever. Just imagine what you could have learned if you had made the effort to attend, too. For details of next year’s meeting in Indianapolis, please visit www.mdrt.org.

Bhupinder Anand is managing director of Anand Associates

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