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The new wave

PIMS confirmed the changing face of financial services

I recently attended the PIMS conference cruise on Aurora for the first time in a few years. A lot has changed since the last one, most for the better.

The format is that product providers pay for a package to attend and IFAs who meet the criteria are invited to attend free of charge. The quid pro quo is the IFA has to agree to meet at least 20 product providers and attend a number of presentations. This is all packed into two working days so it is a hectic schedule with breakfast meetings at 7.45am and dinner meetings at 10.30pm.

What was interesting about this year’s event was the product providers are virtually all different from 15 years ago when I first attended PIMS. Most of them offer sophisticated, alternative and tax-efficient pension and investment schemes rather than the traditional ones from the usual well known product providers.

The quality of the IFAs on board was very high. Many of them are successful business owners, ready for the RDR and looking forward to it. It cemented my view that forward-thinking, progressive IFAs are set to thrive under the RDR.

The whole tone for the event was set by the opening speaker, Kevin Gaskell, who has had an amazingly successful business career and adventurous personal life having made expeditions to the North and South Poles with his son and climbed Mount Everest on his 40th birthday. His clear and focussed business vision, innovative and simple work strategies and insights into how to run a successful business will stick long in my memory.

Paul Coia gave an excellent talk on presentation skills drawing on his many years of experience in TV presenting, while Baroness Susan Greenfield gave a brilliant talk on the human brain and how it is changing in our cyber culture.

Of the IFAs workshops I attended, I was particularly impressed with Jonathan Fry and Alex Morris because of the many useful ideas and services presented and discussed.

Jonathan Fry, of Jonathan Fry PLC, gave a talk about his firm’s innovative services designed to attract high-net-worth individuals. Of particular note is their dynamic cash management, execution only, asset allocation/ reviews and omniview services. Jonathan’s realisation that you will rarely get all of an HNW individual’s funds under management was perceptive.

Alex Morris, of Financial Relationships LLP, led a group discussion on practice management tools and strategies. Intelligent Office and Plum were the best-rated back-office systems. Distribution Technology and Finametrica were popular risk-profiling tools.

Alex is a big proponent of social media which has helped increase his firm’s website hits from 10,000 a month to 20,000. They get lots of new business on the back of this.

Tony Byrne is financial planning director at Wealth and Tax Management

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