Friday, November 20, 2009

Day One at FPA 2009

Bruce Madden attended Day One of the FPA National Conference 2009 in Melbourne for BlueChip Communication.

Three industries have converged on the Melbourne Convention Centre this week, meaning delegates to the Financial Planning Association annual conference must first run the gauntlet of the "Mind, Body and Spirit Festival" before hitting the annual gab fest of the Australian College of Emergency Medical Practitioners, to finally reach the zone partitioned off for the FPA.

It makes for an eclectic mix of patrons under one roof, and with Australia's financial planners facing sustained attacks on the remuneration, education, client obligation and pretty much anything else front, along with Bernie Rippoll just days from delivering his much anticipated report into the industry, you could forgive one or two delegates who feel the urge to nip out for a spot of chakra realignment or some aura mapping down at the Mind, Body and Spirit convention.

And it is comforting to know that - should things really deteriorate - the Emergency Medical experts are on hand next door to care for the real cot cases.

Not that the mood at FPA 2009 is at all downbeat. At least not compared with the thoroughly morose start to last year's event on the Gold Coast, at the peak of the global financial crisis.

No, things are best described as"busy". Businesslike. Not inspirational, but determined.

Busy keeping up with the swiftly moving national agenda played out in the media. Busy absorbing what the politicians and reviews will have to say about the future of the industry. Busy trying to figure out why the good planners, who have never taken a commission in their life and who act only in their client's best interest, are being swept along in the turgid morass that has become the industry's reputation.

As one senior industry figure put it: "there are many balls in the air, and I feel sorry for the good planners who are juggling them all while trying to make an honest living".

These are issues rich times. Witness this exchange last night between IFSA CEO John Brogden and IFS's David Whitely as evidence of just some of the viewpoints being played out among stakeholders at present:

FPA chief executive Jo Anne Bloch's comments on raising education standards was a front page report on this morning's AFR. ABC TV turned up at the FPA news conference today, asking Ms Bloch the familiar question, repeatedly, "will you ban commissions".

So, your humble correspondent has selectively done the rounds today, asking people from various backgrounds, what single issue must the industry overcome?

The best response was from Jo Anne Bloch: "we must restore confidence in financial planning among consumers".

Bruce Madden will file only one report from FPA 2009. He would love your feedback on

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