I try to mix these up to keep it fresh but also to ensure I am seeing new content all the time and actually learning new skills or information that will be useful in the job.
Increasingly I find the – generally free – provider-led conferences offer less and less benefit though. I am sure you know the ones I mean.
Somebody from a product provider or fund manager will get half an hour and in effect give a thinly veiled sales pitch for their latest and greatest offering.
“Are Japanese equities on the rise? Is it time to turn to emerging markets? Guess what, it is and here is our ‘super Japan’ or emerging markets fund.”
Only, when you check, it is often not that super at all, at least not for the client.
Often I turn to my mobile phone and read emails or check the cricket score – come on, admit it, you do too, I know, I have seen you do it.
A handful of providers eschew this type of pitch and genuinely speak on business related topics and add value.
They tend to present on genuine issues facing advisers and our clients with no link back to a certain product or fund. They know what they are good at, and we know what they are good at, so they focus on building reputation and brand knowing that if they do that the business will follow.
Much like a good advice business, if we focus on providing a good service and help to clients and not just selling them something then our reputation grows and from that so do the referrals and the business.
I have seen really informative content like this from Vanguard, Dimensional and Royal London recently. Nucleus even has a whole series of events and content in this vein.
I also get a huge amount of value from conferences where there are speakers from outside the industry or profession or from across the pond. We can learn a lot from the way other industries operate or from the US market and the way advisers over there work.
So a request to most providers and fund managers – yes, you I am looking at you – stop trying to sell me something and actually tell me something that is truly relevant, interesting and useful. I will be far more engaged if you do and I will certainly like you a whole lot more. I might actually listen.