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PFS Symposium 2018 - "May the Force Be With You..."

On 22nd and 23rd November, seven members of Chesterton House's financial planning team attended the Personal Finance Society (PFS) National Symposium in London. PFS holds events such as these to help individuals undertake their Continuing Professional Development (CPD), which is both a requirement for a minimum amount of study and training each year to maintain authorisation to act as an adviser, as well as a means to ensure our planners' knowledge and skills are up to date so they can give the most accurate and sound financial advice to our clients. This time it's David Jones, Financial Planning Manager, who took his notepad and pen to provide a commentary of the event. Enjoy!

As explained in one of our previous blogs, in which Jordan and Lisa attended a PFS Seminar, the Personal Finance Society is one of the main educational bodies serving financial advisers and planners.

The event was held in London and we got the chance to explore the corner we were staying in. London is obviously a complete contrast to the comparative quiet of Loughborough, and it was interesting to experience the financial capital again.

Our location was close to the 167 year old Borough Market, but still in the shadow of the Shard, the famous 95-story skyscraper completed in just 2012. This striking mix of the old and the new lent itself well to the theme of the symposium and what was to come from the speakers.

The event itself was themed around the future of financial planning, and there were many sci-fi references and gimmicks to reinforce this. Examples of amusing Star Wars presentation titles included Keith Richards' "The Professional Force Awakens - A New Hope", Frank Witte's Yoda inspired "Difficult to See, the Future is" and Rory Percival's "Now, witness the [fire]power of this fully operational cash-flow plan" (substitute cash-flow plan for Deathstar!). Of course if you'd never seen Star Wars you were probably bamboozled before the conference had begun!

The Star Wars theme and discussions on the future use of technology in financial planning gave a futuristic feel to the main presentation hall, but ironically it was the presenter who focused on what we can learn from the past who most caught my attention.

Abraham Okunsanya is the principal at a research firm called FinalytiQ and specialises in helping create financial solutions. The first point I took away was from his slide showing the historic returns from shares. This showed that, in times of uncertainty, the only logical approach is to stick to your financial plan. The risk of doing anything else is just too great. Abraham's extensive and in-depth research helped to explain why this is so, and how trying to second-guess market movements can lead to years of underperformance.

Okunsanya's second point was with respect to the increasing use of technology, in particular for financial planning. Some see this as a threat to their livelihoods, but I share Abraham’s conclusion that advances in technology will instead enable us, as financial planners, to help our clients achieve their goals in ever more effective and efficient ways, rather than replacing us.

I don’t believe that our human desire to connect with other people, to be listened to by someone who understands, and to put trust into another human being, will be eroded by the rise of robots - however quickly or accurately one can calculate your tax bill.

Putting it another way, which of these attendees would you trust with your financial planning? (Yes, I know that Darth Vader isn't technically a robot, but you know what I mean…)

Credit must also go to the fantastic presentations coordinated by Sarah Cruddas, Jason Whyte, John Redwood, Brett Davidson, Steve Bee, Trevor Williams, Justin Urquhart Stewart, Michelle Hoskin, Abbie Knight, Christopher Budd, Chris Davies, Mark Polson and Helen Sharman, all of them experts in their respective fields. Their interesting and enlightening presentations helped us as financial planners to stay sharp and up-to-date, to challenge our thinking on topical issues, and to understand our clients and the issues that they face. In our ever-changing world this is essential, and fortunately it's also highly enjoyable.

"Good time, we had!"

Dave Jones

Financial Planning Manager


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