As Openwork gears up for its annual conference, Jaki Platt, partnership director at the firm, says that taking a few days away from the day-to-day running of your business to attend an event is time well spent.
Network and national adviser firm conferences are often viewed as relics of the past.
From an outsider's perspective, that perception is understandable: to the uninitiated, conferences can, at times, sound more like sales rallies than genuinely beneficial gatherings of advisers.
But now, more than ever, there is a robust and compelling case for the continuation of these events.
In an environment of almost unprecedented change, conferences have become less a luxury than a necessity.
For a fragmented industry in which there are large numbers of advisers working alone or in very small teams, the opportunity to come together to swap ideas, discuss problems and share experiences is extremely useful.
Critics may scoff and ask what can possibly be gained from a few hours at a conference; but the reality is that, for many advisers, a conference is a three-day experience, with social engagements and dinners bookending the main event.
That affords them ample time to catch-up with old friends and to make new ones, and to exchange thoughts and views on best practice.
The chances are they will not have the opportunity to do so at any other point during the year, and for that reason alone conferences are invaluable.
Indeed, with the RDR now a reality, conferences have, in anything, gained in importance and we are fortunate that ours has always taken place in January.
This year's conference will accordingly assume additional significance, but the fact is these events have always been integral to our approach, as they enable us to give advisers a clear sense of what to expect in terms of service, processes and forthcoming enhancements to our proposition.
That gives advisers a platform from which to work, and the conference is our chance to communicate our intentions and views in person, in a way that email communications, no matter how good, cannot hope to match.
That said, conferences are rarely exclusively focused on updates and proposition changes.
To work as they should, conferences must - and usually do - seek to broaden their scope beyond the technical and the practical.
That is why advice groups often engage high profile speakers: not to act as a draw - most speakers are not announced in advance anyway - but to provide a different context and a wider perspective.
These benefits are not, it is fair to say, always easy for an adviser to gain amid the day-to-day demands of running an advice business, particularly in the current climate.
For a business such as ours, which is majority owned by its advisers, conferences assume even greater importance because we are speaking to attendees as shareholders as well as members.
But even if that were not the case - and it is not for most other major adviser businesses - conferences would remain central to our approach.
At their best they are the glue that binds disparate groups of advisers together, creating a tight, mutually beneficial community.
As such, conferences are essential, and they will remain part of our adviser engagement mix for many more years to come.
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