A Financial Planning Masterclass from Formula One

Updated: Oct 6

Today (5th October 2021) I'm attending the Annual Financial Planning Conference of the CISI, our professional body and custodian of the world-renowned Certified Financial Planner qualification in the UK.


It's 2 years since we last met together in person and it feels strange, with everyone getting used to meeting colleagues old and new to share the latest news and ideas in this wonderful profession of ours. It's also a new and exciting venue for us as we meet at the manufacturing base of the Red Bull Formula One Team in Milton Keynes. We begin the day's activities with a guided tour of the site and a detailed explanation of what goes on here.


I'm not a F1 aficionado and neither are many of my fellow financial planners, but all of us are hugely impressed by this amazing facility. With 1200 people spread across the various buildings on site manufacturing the grand total of two cars a year, the level of attention to detail in pursuit of extra milliseconds of performance on the track is simply phenomenal. We learn how the team changed the paint on the cars from a gloss to a matt finish because the latter was lighter in weight, a significant investment in time, research and money to gain an advantage measured in grammes.


We watch highly sophisticated 3D printing machines making complex individual parts for the Team's aerodynamic testing models, all to reduce friction by tiny fractions of a percent, and we visit the machine shop where detailed engine parts move from design to manufacture and finished item within 5 days. We move on to look down on the control room styled on NASA and containing (we are told) Europe's largest video wall, from where the pit crew can monitor and adjust countless functions in real time during an actual race without leaving the factory as though they were sitting in the car itself.


This attention to detail and focus on achieving miniscule incremental gains in order to deliver the Team's objective - winning the World Championship - has clear lessons for all businesses. It's inspiring to behold, and a great start to our 2-day Conference.


Later in the evening we attend the Awards Dinner, at which the Institute recognises outstanding contributions to the financial planning profession. I'm sitting next to Sarah Lees who is a finalist in the competition for Paraplanner of the Year, and it's clear she's nervous. Getting to this stage has required several rigorous stages of enquiry, starting with product knowledge, going on to her ability to deliver a comprehensive financial plan based on a detailed case study, and ending with a demanding interview with a judging panel who test her reasoning and technical knowledge as well as her attitude to client outcomes and views.


Our table is delighted for her when she is announced as the winner and returns with her trophy, truly well earned, and I reflect on the similarities between the expertise and professionalism of the Formula One teams and the skill, application and dedication required to deliver exceptional results for financial planning clients. It's brilliant that we have people such as Sarah who are prepared to invest the time and effort in their chosen careers that inspires us all.


There is a real spirit of optimism about the financial planning profession here at the Conference, and a huge desire to deliver it to the highest standards. I'm looking forward to what tomorrow's sessions have to bring.


Andy Jervis

Certified Financial Planner