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Notes from the IFP conference: To tie or not to tie?

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Tuesday 9:15am I wasn’t at the IFP Conference in 1993, but I’m pretty sure the tie would have been ubiquitous.

And, if my own experience of being a Sun Life broker consultant was anything to go by, there would have been a fair few which were brightly coloured or Micky Mouse ties.

This year I would estimate that no more that half of delegates are sporting neckwear. Not only that, I have seen no bow ties at all, and only one set of red braces. And, in a sign that I too must be getting on a bit, I look upon the red braces with just a touch of envy.

In the exhibition hall, however, things are very different. Here, the tie is an essential badge of the company man. Slightly more concerning, there were also a significant number of ties in the bar at midnight.

Who will be the first sponsor to take the bold move and ditch the tie, I wonder? Perhaps we could have a sweepstake. A pound coin in the coffee cup, everyone, and pick your sponsor, winner takes all. My money is on Phil Young on the Threesixty stand.

Monday 4pm: It can be a strange experience, going to an industry conference. Strange and unnerving, even for the most thick skinned.

There are various games that we all play at such events. There’s the ‘standing on your own trying to look casual’ game.

This has been spoiled with the advent of the smart phone, as it’s all too easy to take the easy route of pretending to do important things on your phone (even though everyone knows we’re only playing Tetris, which requires just about as many frantic movements of the fingers as tapping out an an urgent client email).

Then there’s the game of whether or not to admit that you and that chap with the ginger hair used to work at the same life office twenty years ago.

You’ve both put on weight, you’ve both got greying hair, but you both looked at each other just long other to think that yes, that is you, and it is me, and we did get rather drunk together on that course on Independent Taxation with Brian Lawless, didn’t we? And then you walk by, and the moment for an awkward reminisce is lost.

This is my third IFP Conference, and, mainly due to Twitter, I am lucky enough to know a few people here.

It’s a bit like a school reunion at times, and I’m grateful for that. I’ve not been to other body’s conferences, but the people at IFP are a good bunch, genuinely interested in learning and engaging. And if you walk up to one of them and start a conversation, generally speaking they’ll play the ‘I don’t know you but I’ll happily have a chat’ game.

Chris Budd is managing director of Ovation Finance

If you would like to offer your views on the IFP conference please email natalie.holt@centaur.co.uk for more details or sign in/register and leave your comments below. 

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