“Fun” conferences vital tool for advisers

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Over the years, there has been some negative talk about conferences in the financial advice industry, particularly overseas conferences with naysayers screaming words like ‘junket’ at every opportunity.
But we believe advisers need conferences, particularly overseas conferences – how else will they be exposed to world-class knowledge and out-of-the-ordinary experiences that not only educate and inform, but also inspire and motivate them to continue to develop their businesses to be the best?
Financial advice clients want to know that the adviser in charge of their financial future is worldly; that they are conscious of global trends, are up-to-date with what’s happening in the world of advice and are constantly looking to different environments to learn how they can innovate their businesses in order to provide better service.
Because the hard truth is that the same-old service routine simply won’t cut it in the new age of advice and advisers need to be looking for new ways to manage their clients’ future while also engaging and understanding them.
One of the best ways to engage clients is through story-telling. Talking to clients about experiences, new ideas, inspirations received from conferences, roadshows, webinars, media and peers, is crucial in showing the client empathy and in proving to them that continually raising the bar in terms of service is at the top of the to-do list.
But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that conferences also need to be fun because we believe fun and relaxation are vital to the learning process. And we are not alone. Studies have revealed that play can be a very effective part of learning, not just for children but for adults. A 2009 paper by Louis Rice from the University of the West of England, UK concluded: The inclusion of play helped to generate excitement, enjoyment and interest as part of the process of learning.
Despite the negative rhetoric being peddled ad nauseum by segments of the industry with highly vested interests, advisers with client bases know their clients trust them.
They trust their judgment and their recommendations and they highly value the peace of mind their adviser gives them. We must honour that trust by ensuring advisers are exposed to some of the world’s best speakers, motivators, educators and experiences.
It would be both ignorant and arrogant of us if we truly believed that Australia has all the best financial advice practices in the world. We need to learn from experiences of other regions and experts with experience in different markets. We need to acknowledge that the experiences and stories these world-class experts can provide may be relevant to our own clients, our own businesses, our own industry.
We have an on-going responsibility to continually raise the bar; we have to make sure our clients are receiving the best possible value and service, and how can we do that with only the knowledge and experience we receive within our shores?
I often liken our duty to that of the medical profession. Charged with the responsibility of ensuring a patient is given the best possible care, knowledge and experience derived from countries around the world is a necessity.
Countless Australians have had their lives saved, extended or made more comfortable because Australian medical professionals have gone overseas to join conferences and study tours – not just to learn in an academic sense, but to learn from their peers and to engage in experiences.
We expect medical experts to learn from the experience of other professionals around the world – we should have no less expectation of our financial advice professionals.
We must keep the client’s financial future secure; this obviously means ensuring the client fully understands the services provided to them and is presented with information in a clear, concise and effective manner.
But it also means ensuring we are continually challenging the way we do business and are on a never-ending quest to find ways to continually offer a better service. We believe exposure to world-class speakers and world-class experiences is one of the best ways to ensure this happens.
 - Don Trapnell, director of Synchron
This year Synchron is taking its national conference to Anaheim, California. Speakers include Terry Brock, Laurie Guest, Chad Hymas, and surprise guest “the most heard person in the world”.

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