et in arcadia ego? So it would appear. We boarded the good ship Arcadia at tea time yesterday (Wednesday.) We set sail at 8, having allowed two land-lubbers to escape: the ubiquitous Justin Urquhart Stewart and Daniel Hannan, having enlightened us with their thoughts on Britain's great future.
As a newcomer to PIMS it all seems quite weird - here we are on a huge P&O cruise ship, setting sail into the Solent where it will anchor up off the coast of Guernsey so that we "suppliers" (purveyors of fund management products) have a captive audience of "delegates" (IFAs). The tricky choice facing delegates is whether to spend three days listening to our sales pitch or swim for shore.
PIMS had gained itself a reputation in recent years as a bit of a booze-cruise. So far we have seen little sign of this, with a packed schedule of high quality meetings. We began with a series of 5-minute speed-dating sessions as a warm-up. Hard work you might think, albeit standing round a swimming pool with a glass of champagne and a mini lamb samosa in hand. This was followed by dinner meetings with IFAs. Up at 6.15 this morning and off to breakfast meetings with (yes, you guessed it) more IFAs. Followed by fifteen one-on-one meetings with IFAs today, interrupted only by a quick IFA lunch meeting.
There are a few recurrent themes emerging: a general recognition on the part of the IFA industry that the Jack-of-All-Trades business model has passed its sell-by date; specialisation is coming -either through consolidation (with in-house investment teams or through out-sourcing to specialist fund managers, among which we will hopefully be included).
The white knuckle ride that was 2008 and 2009 is fostering a sharply increased interest in absolute return investment solutions - in all their guises, but particularly those which don't involve leverage, derivatives or black boxes and can be explained easily to retail clients.
Wrap platforms are also a subject of discussion: Which one shall I use? Do I need more than one? Can the lumbering life offices compete or is it a young-man's game? How will I structure my business in anticipation of RDR? Will I still make money? Will I be hanged by red tape?
Tonight's black tie gala dinner may not answer these questions. However, the trip to the bar afterwards may at least dull the pain of thinking about them. I will report back. I don't think I will need the alcohol to help me sleep tonight.
Jon Mackintosh is a partner at Saltus.
Despite improved risk appetite
FOS award limit increase
Relates to 136 million transaction reports
Ceremony will take place 13 November