So to the Gala Dinner on day 2 of the conference. This is always good fun (who doesn’t like getting dressed up and dancing?) and this year was no exception. There was a lot of drinking, eating, some gambling for those who found the casino tables and apparently an after party. Though I was far too tired to venture to that!

The highlight of the evening however was when the IFP announced that their chosen charity this year was The Stroke Association. This was clearly a charity close to many people’s hearts given Nick Cann’s recent illness. I was able to speak to Nick a couple of times over the course of the conference and he absolutely overwhelmed me. He is as incessantly good humoured as ever, even in such adversity (which I’m sure many of us could take inspiration from) and was thoroughly enjoying being part of the conference. His energy and enthusiasm was just a joy to witness.

The speaker from the Stroke Association was a young lady called Annabel Jones. She spoke passionately about her experience of suffering a stroke at such a young age and how the society had supported her; I, for one, was a blubbering mess. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to support a charity bringing so much tangible support and hope to those who had suffered a stroke.

So, on to the final day, and my task of chairing events was made considerably easier as portion of delegates had extremely sore heads and so were very quiet and well behaved! My personal highlights from Day 3 were:

Eliza Manningham Buller

This former head of MI5 discussed leadership and change under pressure and her key tips were:

1. You don’t need to put your business on hold to implement change; they can run alongside one another

2. You can’t ever aim too high; be ambitious

3. Don’t be afraid to use outside help – and don’t be afraid to give up any monopoly you may have to get help you will benefit from.

Chris Davies – Engage Insight.

Chris talked about behavioural economics (something the FCA are actively encouraging advisers to look at) and how it can be practically implemented into an organisation. The key theme was to ensure throughout all of your communication with clients you focus on Simplicity and Saliency.

I’ve now had chance to see the initial feedback from the conference and with over 90% of respondents saying the conference either met or exceeded their expectations, it seems others enjoyed it as much as I did! The voice recordings and presentation slides will be available to attendees soon. And for anyone interested in donating, the charity being supported was www.stroke.org.uk

The IFP annual conference last week was, as always, one of the best industry events. It is pitched at the right level, helping people in the industry to learn and develop; rather than teaching a granny how to suck eggs! I thought I’d give a quick overview of my experience and what I’ve taken from it:

Day 1

This day was taken up with nerves and preparation for my presentation on outsourcing! Turns out no amount of prep was enough as technology let me down and so I had to present without any slides! I did what any professional does in such circumstances… panicked and did a little dance. Once the dance was over, I got on with actually talking about the benefits of outsourcing (across all functions and all industries), the way to approach it, what you should/shouldn’t hope to get from it and how to find an outsourcer that is the perfect fit for your company.

Day 2

Some of the highlights from this day were:

Mike Kellard – AXA Wealth

  • Interesting look at trends in the industry and the difference spotting those trends can make
  • I discovered that even the most basic unit trust has 14 layers of charges!

Bill Bachrach

  • Presentation on building trust with your clients and therefore a stronger relationship. Some of my favourite quotes were:

“everybody should run their own race… race against your own potential”

“trust is a by-product of a combination of the right character and competence

“get your own financial house in order”… he recommends advisers “walk their talk” and pay someone else to create and implement their own financial plan.

  • He also discussed the importance of being a leader and actually leading; if someone should be leading and isn’t, it creates a leadership vacuum into which someone else will step. This can happen with clients; “people need leading, not educating”.
  • A key recommendation of his was to record meetings; it helps to listen back and you will probably pick up many things which you didn’t hear at the time.
  • He also suggested inspiring people with positive emotions – not fear or greed.

Chris Griffiths

  • This session included throwing paper aeroplanes – all in the interests of education of course!
  • Chris focused on innovation and how it distinguishes between a leader and a follower. There were some incredibly interesting statistics from NASA which showed that we inherently have creativity at birth and it is then unlearnt throughout our lives.
  • He also talked about how damaging our thinking processes are; how many people will be reactive or selective thinkers and provided some really interesting examples to demonstrate this.
  • Brainstorming should always be in 3 stages:
  1. The obvious answers
  2. The weird and wacky answers… most people stop here but instead should push on to..
  3.  A combination of the weird and wacky with a sensible approach. This is the area that true innovation comes out.
  • He also highly recommended daydreaming as a way of solving problems! 5% of our thinking is done with our conscious and 95% is via the subconscious. Most people will try and force themselves when it comes to problem solving; but daydreaming (or “thought experimenting”!) will help us to break out of a reactive way of thinking. As long as it’s done with focus!

This was only a part of my experience and what I took away from it – but I hope it’s useful as a reminder to those who were there and also as an overview to those who were unable to attend.

The events of the gala dinner, getting to see the wonderful Nick Cann and my key points from Day 3 will be coming shortly… just as soon as I’ve finished daydreaming!