IFP Conference Report 2015 – Day 2, 6th Oct 2015

There was only one standing ovation during the three days of this year’s IFP Conference, and it came from the hearts of those present. It was at the moment when special acknowledgement was given to Nick Cann.

Nick is one of those guys you have to love. His enthusiasm for the Institute and it’s role in changing people’s lives through the delivery of great financial planning has been inspiring to everyone who has met him. And during his decade long reign as Chief Executive of the IFP, that’s a lot of people as he toured the country regularly meeting members at Branch Meetings, appearing in the press and wider media as one of the primary representatives of the financial planning profession, and steering the Institute as it has gathered mass, influence and skill.

That was until nearly two years ago, when Nick suffered a massive stroke that robbed him of the use of his right arm and left him struggling to communicate. To say that this was a body blow to the organisation he led is a ridiculous understatement, and it was clear what a dramatic effect his sudden illness played on not only the small team of permanent staff that surrounded him, but on the Board members and the wider IFP community who held him in such regard.

The recently announced merger with the CISI has meant the breakup of that team as the operation moves to its new London home from Bristol, a commuting problem too big to swallow for most of them. It was partly for that reason that, when long=standing IFP stalwart Julie Lord gave her tribute to Nick’s huge influence, the whole hall rose to its feet in support of her words. It was a poignant moment.

It had been a long day, with an early breakfast required to be able to catch the first concurrent sessions of the day starting at 8.15 am. I chose to learn about ‘Why Online Advice is the Next Evolution for Financial Professionals’, a thought provoking analysis of trends in the way people receive and process information. There is much talk in the profession about the dawn of ‘robo-advice,’ where people can get the answers they need without human intervention. The speaker assured us that all of their research and practical experience shows that, whilst computers can handle the delivery of key information and illustrate strategies, the vast majority of people of all ages still wish to speak to an experienced person to validate their buying choices before they push the button. However people are increasingly taking their first steps towards building their financial plans, arranging investments and insurance, and sorting out their tax online, and it’s definitely an area that Chesterton House needs to be involved in to deliver the results for our clients that they desire. We’re already looking at some exciting ideas in this area and this session helped point towards some resources that I’m sure we’ll find useful.

The first plenary session speaker was new IFP President Alan Dick, who spoke with great passion about the work of the Institute and it’s people, the possibilities as well as the concerns for the future as part of the CISI, and reminded us that ‘financial planning is the glue – the context – that holds everything else (in people’s lives) together.’ His tenure promises to be inspired.

Steve Groves of Partnership Assurance was up next, talking about ‘Retirement’, a subject at the heart of most people’s financial plans.

Steve talked about the current consultation into pension tax relief and the possible reforms that might ensue. He compared the current EET model – Exempt contributions, Exempt fund, Taxed benefits – with a TEE approach whereby contributions are taxed (i.e., no tax relief), your pension fund continues to be exempt from tax, but future benefits (your pension drawings) are exempt. We already have this structure in place, it’s called an ISA and there has been talk about pulling pensions and ISAs together into one ‘product.’ There are some obvious disadvantages from this approach that were highlighted by Steve, and it was thought provoking to hear his analysis.

Steve also spoke about the new pension freedoms, and the need for people to manage their retirement planning successfully. There had been a lot of talk, he said, about rising life expectancy but pointed out that if all men budgeted on living to age 87 (the average expected age at death for a male in the UK), then half of them would run out of money. He also suggested that many people with small, medium and large pension funds would live in poverty, scared to spend for this fear. As always, good money management is less about logic and more about managing your emotions.

The next speaker, Andy Bounds, had us all out of our chairs and pointing objects out to each other. His creative and often hilarious presentation showed how to make a good impression, and how to focus on what’s important to the other person – a major theme of our work at Chesterton House. Nobody is impressed if you’re great, he told us, but people are highly impressed if you make them great. The exercises he suggested to achieve this were simple yet memorable and effective, and his talk went down well with this audience.

 Next up was the inspiring Dr James Rouse. We had met James when he spoke to last year’s Conference, and he told us how pleased he was to return. James’ theme was Mastery over Mind and Body, and in his very full talk he explained the importance of gratitude in living a great and long life. Be aware of silent gifts; a tasty breakfast, a warm shower, walking in the rain; and ask what gives you ‘irrevocable joy?’

James went on to describe techniques for self-discipline, exercise and diet that have been shown to help people live to age 100 and beyond, and told inspiring stories of centenarians running marathons to demonstrate that such mastery can yield dramatic results. He’s a very interesting man with an important and relevant message, I recommend you experience his ideas at www.drjamesrouse.com. If James’s energy and enthusiasm were indicators then his stuff definitely works.

After lunch I attended a session with Rob Stevenson of Kingmakers who talked about ‘The Financial Planner as a Business Consultant.’ Rob works with firms to identify, manage and overcome problems and get things done. There’s an obvious crossover with financial advice, where I’ve many times got involved in helping clients to talk through business issues in order to break through to higher levels of wealth. Rob explained the difference between consultancy and coaching, and the times when such help can be needed in the lifecycle of a business. He made some interesting points. For example, he suggested that it takes approximately 10 years to build a succession plan, something which I realise is correct on reflection.

With the traditional Gala Dinner in the evening this was a very full day, and a productive one. The value in these events is often in the conversations one has with fellow professionals in between sessions, and this was no different. If you’re a practising financial planner, or aspiring to be one, I strongly recommend that you get along to next year’s IFP Conference. You won’t regret it.

IFP Conference Report 2015 Day One

As a long-standing member of the Institute of Financial Planning I have always enjoyed attending the Annual Conference, held for the last few years in the luxurious surroundings of the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport. Today is the first day of the Conference and it’s already provided plenty of meaty food for thought.

I first got involved with the IFP in the early 1990’s, and much of what Chesterton House now practices has been learned from that long association. Members have always been generous in sharing ideas, and I’ve been highly impressed by their dedication to delivering great results for clients as well as wanting to know how to run highly effective businesses – two things that go hand-in-hand.

Twenty years ago the Annual Conference was held at Cambridge University, a mark of the aspirations of the leading players in the Institute at that time, during an era when salesmanship was much more highly prized by financial institutions than academic rigour. Since then, the regulators have imposed the need for learning on to advisers in the form of the RDR, which brought in the requirement for financial qualifications for anyone giving advice to the public. Many of the old school decided that was a time to leave the business, but for the IFP it felt like its time had come. With a burgeoning need for high quality advice from a wealthier, older and more time-pressured population facing an ever more complicated world, the IFP’s blend of holistic financial planning skills, high integrity and focus on long-term relationship based business models is proving successful for those practitioners who choose to follow it.

The Conference is the annual coming together of advisers and financial professionals seeking the latest ideas and techniques, as well as to enjoy the camaraderie of ‘front-line’ practitioners. It’s always an inspiring event and this year is proving no different.

We began this morning with a session specifically designed for members of firms holding the Accredited Financial Planning Firm designation, of which Chesterton House is proud to be one. An overview of a member survey that gave us some useful benchmarks on which we could measure our respective firms performance was followed by an excellent talk by Nicky Simonds-Gooding of Gazing Performance Systems about how to raise your performance in an increasingly pressurised world. Nicky taught us to use the Samurai principle of the ‘Double Gaze’ – being able to focus intensively on specific details whilst still having an eye on the Bigger Picture, something that resonated strongly with our approach at Chesterton House. She went on to remind us that the High Performance mind set says that however good we are, we can always improve, and suggested some techniques for generating that improvement. Inspiring stuff.

The Institute’s AGM was followed by a session discussing the future of the IFP, which has just agreed to merge with the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments, a much larger body with an academic base. This has been a big deal for IFP members and, amongst general approval of the potential benefits of the deal, there was concern that the unique qualities of the IFP might be subsumed into the CISI over time. We were assured that wasn’t going to happen, and members were reassured by the obvious enthusiasm for the idea of an expanded organisation being able to spread the word about what real financial planning is and its potential to change people’s lives.

The next session asked, ‘Does Size Matter,’ with leaders of small, medium and large financial planning firms discussing how to continue to deliver a consistent client experience and the highest quality advice as firms grow. This is something that’s particularly relevant to me in my role as Chairman of Chesterton House as our own growth continues, and there were some useful observations from the panel that I noted down.

The next session from Alison Broadberry of Charles Russell Speechlys Solicitors explored the area of Estate Planning for Business Owners. This was another topic of great relevance to me as our Legal Team develops its role in working with families and successful business people to ensure that their assets end up where they intended. Alison explained how a ‘Company Will’ can be used to create certainty for business owners faced with the death of a partner or owner, as well as ways to use trusts to protect business assets on death and massively reduce tax bills. The session was a helpful reminder of these ideas that will be useful when advising clients who are in this situation.

The final session from Michael Langerup of ETF Securities asked, ‘What’s So Smart About Smart Beta’. This was a talk aimed at the investment geeks among us, investigating as it did the market for passive investments based on Exchange traded Funds (ETFs) and the differences between them. If you’re really interested in Systematic Factor Strategies based on key macro risks as a way to diversify your portfolio I’ll be happy to speak to you separately. Or send you to see Michael.

With a lively exhibition area used as a meeting and eating venue for the evening it was great to catch up with some old acquaintances as well as make some new ones. After such an interesting day in a great Conference venue its no wonder some of us keep returning each year.

Tomorrow is an early start as sessions start at 8.15am, and it’s just turned midnight as I write this so I think that’s enough for now. Over and out!

 

Introducing the Chesterton House App!

We are always looking for ways we can improve the service we offer and that’s why we took the decision to launch our very own App. It’s available to you today and it’s completely free of charge to download. It’s available for iPhone, iPads and Android phones and devices.

What does this powerful little App do?          

The App has been developed by Chesterton House to give you access to key financial data, in real time, whenever you need it, as well as news, information and updates about topics that may affect you.

CH App homescreen

It contains a variety of helpful calculators that, among other things, let you calculate the amount of tax you might be paying, work out Stamp Duty costs, quickly check the cost of a mortgage or loan, or see how you might increase your profits as a business.

You can browse the library of tax tables, giving you the latest tax rates 24/7 when you need them. From National Insurance and Inheritance Tax to Income Tax and Tax Credits – it’s there for you.

Photo Receipt Management, Email and Store

Never lose a receipt again! Using the App you can track receipts and expenses literally at the touch of a button. With minimal effort you can take a picture of any receipt and save it to your App. It can help you track all your expenses with ease and, if you’re in business or self-employed, it will enable us to interact electronically with you, saving you loads of time and effort in dealing with your accounts.

GPS Mileage Tracking and Management tool (iOS only)

Using the built-in GPS in your device, the Chesterton House App will automatically help you to track mileage, recording every single trip at the touch of a button, storing them and allowing you to view, edit or email with ease.

Keeping in touch via ‘push notifications’

As your financial adviser, lawyer and accountant we are committed to keeping you up-to-date in the most efficient possible way. The new App enables us to send you important news, deadline reminders and financial updates. And using the App, you can contact us at any time in a way that’s highly convenient for you, as well as view key details about us and our Team.

To download our free App, simply use this QR code directly from your device, or visit the App Store or Google Play Store and search for ‘Chesterton House.’ If you need help just ask!

Chesterton House App QR code