..well, one thing led to another, and........

After the first Joint IFA/PAA National Advisers Conference last week in Auckland, I thought a few well-chosen words would be merited. Let me say at the outset that this was an outstanding, well-crafted, well-organised, shoot-the-lights-out success.

Speakers, guests, pace, timing, content, and variety – this had all the aspects of a momentous and thoroughly enjoyable get-together.

In no special order, my thanks and congratulations to Bruce Cortesi, Julie Berry, Fred Dodds, Rod Severn, and their respective teams who combined so well to make the occasion so enjoyable.

I should add that, over the years, I have been to quite a few such occasions in quite a few locations from New Orleans to Kuala Lumpur, from London to Hong Kong – and more recently in Cairns, Queensland for an excellent IFA Conference - and this was up there with the best.

So what made this event so successful?

Well, apart from some immaculate organisation – congratulations to the Conference Team – the sheer numbers of attendees (600) made for a vibrant, dynamic, and exciting Conference.

Not often the word exciting is applied to a financial advisers conference, but on this occasion the term is appropriate, because here we were part of history in the making.

Despite the early tenuous exchanges among stakeholders involved in the legislative review of the Financial Advisers Act, the issues are beginning to crystallise. The awareness of the regulators who attended, the sensible, level-headed approach adopted by the executive of both adviser organisations, and the active constructive part played by the advisers attending, augers well for the progress of the review, and for some positive outcomes which will genuinely address some thorny consumer issues which have plagued the industry for many a year.

Maybe I ‘m being over-optimistic or naïve, but I don’t sense the same nefarious ‘divide-and-conquer’ game being played here in NZ, as was most evidently the case in Whitehall and Canberra from earlier experiences.

Of course, MBIE officials and FMA executives have their respective functions to fulfil and objectives to achieve, but conversations I’ve had so far have been positive, constructive, and represented by a desire to understand better the complexities and contradictions of our industry.

Given the consistently negative and adversarial attitudes presented by overseas regulators, which have delivered little to nothing but added expense – without any tangible advantage to consumers - the NZ situation is encouraging.

But back to the Conference, the quality of the speakers, presenters, MC’s, et al., was of the highest quality, and if my lamb at the Gala Dinner wasn’t quite as pink as I usually like, I’ll gladly accept that as the only negative in an otherwise faultless performance by the Langham Hotel staff.

The speakers, from Dr. Lester Levy to Willie Apiata, and everyone in between – Peter Fitzsimons (after dinner), Dr. Sven Hansen, George Hartman, and all the industry speakers made professional, relevant, insightful presentations, and were informative and entertaining – a difficult skill to master.

If there was one standout message for me, it came from John Killick, who, based on his years of experience, delivered a telling summation that, if I may paraphrase, stated –

Regulation, legislation, competition and such like are not the advisers’ enemies – apathy, ignorance, and financial illiteracy are the enemies common to all stakeholders involved in, or touched by, the financial services industry. The more we work together to eliminate those enemies, the better, stronger, and more secure will be our community”

Also, I was fortunate enough to be invited to present on the topic of client referral, leads, and introductions, and for which my underlying theme was “engagement”.

The staging of a joint conference may not represent an announcement of engagement or betrothal between the two adviser organisations, but I’d be fully supportive if one thing did lead to another.