For a couple of years now I’ve been spending a couple of days in Manchester each year as a bit of an imposter…
Not because I’m clearly not from the North (think less Englishman in New York and more Cockney in Cheetham!)
But because I attend a conference every year called ‘Next Gen’ and I don’t really consider myself to be a Next Gen financial planner anymore.
You see, at 41 having been an ‘adviser’ for nearly two decades and having been self employed and then running and continuing to build a business for nearly nine years I don’t consider myself to be a spring chicken anymore.
However I’m also not part of the old guard. I’m a decade (and then some) younger than the average financial adviser and I’d consider a lot of what we do at Cervello as a bit of an antithesis to conventional ‘old school’ advisory firms.
So, I guess I’m a bit of an ‘Inbetweener’ having a decent amount of experience but appreciating that even though we’ve done a decent amount…I’ve still got loads to do (as well as loads to learn) over the next few years.
However the problem with the phrase ‘Inbetweener’ is it is destined to remind me of that awesome Channel 4 sitcom featuring Will (geeky), Simon (An everyman), Jay (Show off) and Neil (a gullible optimist)…
…which is the point that I realise that I exhibit all of the particular traits of the inbetweeners! However just for the record…I have never called anyone a Bus Wan…
…anyway back to the subject at hand. The next gen conference…
So I’m in Manchester for a couple of days. It’s the Second year of the conference I’ve attended and apart from one other it’s the only conference I’m going to attend this year.
I’ve learned a three main lessons from attending conferences over the years…
Firstly when you attend the ‘free’ ones…more often than not you’re the product. Someones paying and they’re paying for your eyeballs.
Secondly, most of the conferences I’ve attended over the years (and I don’t attend anymore) result in me not being able to take away anything I can practically use to improve our business. If I can’t take away a couple of practical ideas we can (and will) action…it’s probably not going to be worth my time.
Whilst I buy the argument that conferences are about the conversations that happen outside of the conference, over a curry or having a beer, you need to be around the right people to have these conversations. Therefore I’m completely convinced that having a good network is massively important (and part of the reason we’ve been lucky enough to grow as a business) the reality is that with any networking opportunity being in the right room with the right people is fundamentally important.
So, whilst I might be more of an inbetweener than a next gen-er I really enjoyed this years conference…for a few reasons,
Firstly the individuals who attend I learn a lot from.
They tend to share certain attributes which are indicative of the community Rohan and Adam have build. Forward Thinking, Enthusiastic about the future of our profession. Good people who want to do the right thing. Effectively all the things we want our profession to be seen as in the future…not known as being in the past.
Secondly I always leave with a bunch of actionable ideas we can use as a business.
I attended last year and we improved a number of things, including how we price and present our ‘scopes of work’ (the initial document we give to our client)
This year I left with a bunch of ideas which I’m pretty sure we’ll implement including on getting factfind information more efficiently from clients, some fun ideas to produce content (including, and I’m genuinely consider this, a version of the ‘dollar shave club’ video) and how to use Niche to effectively self select both the private and corporate clients we really want to work with!
Thirdly, I want to be part of a community which is inclusive not exclusive
I’m a firm believer in the fact that there isn’t any ‘ideal’ financial planning or advice business model. We’ve all got our own ideas on what makes a ‘good business’ and as long as, I believe, businesses are doing the right thing for their clients and are ultimately profitable they should have the freedom and flexibility to run their businesses how they see fit.
The challenge is that some ‘movements’ in financial planning tend to be more restrictive in nature effectively positioning themselves as the only way to help clients.
Interestingly whilst I believe in many of the things some of these movements fight for I don’t feel comfortable being part of a community which is exclusive and not inclusive in nature.
For me Next Gen epitomises inclusiveness…if you want to do good and do well in financial planning then Next Gen is the right community for you and why it’s the right community for me.
We need in the financial planning community more diversity, more young people being involved in our businesses and more open minds on what a good business looks like. If this is the case then we need organisations designed to welcome more people to understand what the future of our profession might look like instead of having a closed mind and only speaking to people who only prescribe to our world view.
So, this is why I continue to support Next Gen and will continue to do so in the future….and why it constitutes 50% of my conference attendance each year…
But what do I know…I’m just an Inbetweener.