View more on these topics

Stephen Womack: The benefits of time out of the office

Talking informally with like minded individuals can help advisers see problems in a new light

Womack-Stephen-2012-700x450.pngI was recently fortunate enough to be part of a little bit of financial services history. Myself and a couple of hundred other adventurous adviser souls climbed aboard the P&O Aurora last month, marking the final time the Pims conference will take place at sea.

For 28 years this event has been a unique experience for advisers and providers, corralling delegates together within the gilded cage of a cruise ship.

There is an intense round of networking and meetings, technical and business sessions and, of course, the social backdrop of meals and drinks that create new connections.

Add to that the imposed discipline of being at sea, away from the trill of the mobile and the click of the email, and you can see the potential for a very different couple of days.

The exact format has evolved over the years: old hands still recall with awe the ability of certain life companies and their pre-RDR budgets to drink the ship dry. More recently, the work and social agendas have been on more of an even keel.

Next year, however, the organisers are taking Pims ashore, driven partly, I understand, by an increasing inability of advisers to lever themselves out of the workplace for a three-day stint around the Channel.

But while the format of that particular event may now have passed its sell-by-date, I would argue the importance of taking time out of the whirl of day-to-day client and business activity has never been greater.

The best of Stephen Womack’s columns for Money Marketing

Whether it is at Pims or some of the other excellent industry events, such as the PFS conferences or Money Marketing Interactive, getting away from the coal face provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on what you do and to learn from others.

It is not simply a case of collecting your CPD hours. Yes, sometimes technical sessions can be very helpful and, yes, sometimes a speaker will inspire you to see your own business in a difference light. But the formal scripted part of an event is frequently only the starter for the banquet of experience and knowledge you can glean from it.

For me, the main course is about learning from your peers. And I certainly did not regret a minute of the time I spent last month talking to advisers in business from Aberdeen to Plymouth. This geographic diversity makes it easy to share problems and solutions with like-minded advisers who are not local rivals.

The ability to candidly compare notes on back-office systems and cashflow tools, for example, is invaluable. As is the willingness to share hard earned wisdom and tips about the way advisers handle particular client circumstances. No prizes for guessing defined benefit transfers were the hot topic on this voyage.

For me, the main course is about learning from your peers.

And the dessert you derive from any time away are the personal connections you make that add a richness to doing business. This time around, for instance, I discovered mutual friends in common with one adviser and another delegate whose son and mine play on the same rugby pitch.

So let’s raise a glass to the legend that was Pims afloat. And the next time someone invites you to an event, think twice before dismissing it because you are simply too busy.

Stephen Womack is a chartered financial planner and a director of David Williams IFA  



Financial services failing on work/life balance

Financial Services employees are amongst the most dissatisfied with their work life balance, with only accountants more unhappy with their lot. Only 47 per cent of financial services workers say they are happy with their work/life balance, compared with the average for all UK employees of 59 per cent. Accountancy is the only area of […]


Is working from home bad for business?

Working from home has been part of the employment structure in a number of firms for many years. For some people it is now a firmly established way of life. The impact can certainly be seen, at least where I commute into London. On Fridays, for example, the station car park is not as full […]


How much are advisers charging for pension transfers?

Defined benefit pension transfer charges are being put under the microscope again as the regulator turns over more potential conflicts of interest. With the British Steel Pension Scheme the latest to dominate headlines and the FCA ready to interrogate further as it extends its review to include all firms authorised to give pension transfer advice, […]

AWD plc grows by 7.7 per cent in 2004

AWD Holding AG announces revenue of 22.8 per cent during 2004 to 473.4m.Operating profit was boosted by 29.5 per cent to 49.3m, net profit increased by 38.9 per cent to 34.3b and earnings per share reached a record level of approximately 0.90, up by 38.9 per cent.The UK-arm of the German group, AWD plc grew […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


There is one comment at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Richard Philbin 22nd June 2017 at 11:08 am

    Nice article Stephen. The last paragraph should have also included the inability of many to attend due to overbearing compliance rules or fear of the regulator thinking we are all on a “jolly…” rather than just being “too busy” to attend

Leave a comment