Conferences, Commercial Realities and making use of our most valuable commodity.

I’m fortunate.

I get to talk to some really great people in our profession.

I get to share ideas with some of the ‘best and brightest’ in financial planning in the UK.

and

I get to learn loads from a bunch of interesting, forward thinking and dynamic chaps and chapesses (the female version of Chaps….and a word I’ve just invented!)

A lot of these conversations happen online or in small get togethers but a few times during the year I get to meet up with a lot of these people en-masse in one room. Usually at some form of  financial planning conference.

I’ve also just come back from the Citywire conference. I feel part of this community and really like not only the advisers but also their talented editorial team.

I enjoyed the headline speakers but did find a lot of the “breakout session” content wasn’t my cup of tea and at time the event felt like it had been designed to satisfy sponsors requirements and not delegates.

This may be just my personal taste in content or it might be because the commercial reality of putting on an expensive event in London provided free to advisers means that the content is guided by sponsorship and not want the delegates want. I’m not sure of the answer to this.

However I did get loads of value from the days due to having the chance to chat to other advisers and this is one of the reasons I attend.

There are other reasons I attend conferences….

I want to take the time out of the office not only to think about working ‘on’ and not only  ‘in’ my business.

I want to spend time with people who I can learn from (weirdly a lot of the learning comes after a beer or wine and people are more comfortable talking about the real challenges and achievements within their own organisations and lives).

Attending conferences also allows me the opportunity to listen to individuals who expand my perspective, challenge my ideas and allow me to not only develop my business but also develop as an individual.

and

Lastly it gives me the chance to develop new ideas and look at opportunities for potential collaboration (something I seem to be doing a lot of more of in recent months!)

However I’m also conscious that attending a number of these events (especially the ones which last a couple of days or more) means that it eats into my, and probably your, most valuable commodity….Time!

Here lies the issue. I’m finding when my time is more in demand than ever I need to make certain decisions around the sort of conference events I attend.

This is never going to be a decision about “paid” vs “free” conferences as I’d much rather put my hand in my pocket and spend a few quid attending an event I believe I’m going to get genuine value from than go along for a ‘freebie’.

However there are plenty of ‘free’ events which I believe advisers do get loads of value from (I’m sort of obliged to say this saying as i’m speaking at a few this year!)

Over the course of the conference I got involved in conversations about this subject with a few different people.

I spoke to MDRT evangelists, fellow supporters of the IFP community and individuals who only attend Citywire events. Each were as passionate on their perspective as the next but couldn’t really put their finger on (or it may be me not being able to get to the bottom of) on their certain selection was the best approach.

So I therefore turn to the Adviser Lounge community for some help…

Let’s say an email lands in your inbox. It invites you to a conference, or one day event, or something with travelling will involve you taking you a decent amount of time out of your day…

How do you decide whether an event is worth going to? Do you look for the speakers to give you a fresh perspective or more knowledge? Do you aim for business practice knowledge, or technical knowledge, or a combination of the two? How much of a factor is the other delegates you know who attend?

Also, and this was a completely fair point raised by someone I spoke to during the Citywire conference (although not one I agree with), with the fact that we can connect to many of the people we want to online, listen to many of the speakers at these conferences via their You Tube channels and CPD hours in a bunch of different ways….is there much point to these sort of conferences at all?

In short (and to help me make potentially better decisions in the future) the question is:-

How, with so many commitments on all of our time do you decide what events to attend, if any?

and

How do you decide?

As ever I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.