A behind the scenes look at financial services

Some leave nothing to chance


The SMSF Association National Conference differs from other industry events in that its delegates are primarily attracted by the heavy technical content and less so by the networking opportunities.

And with this technical bent it stands to reason they’d be the types of practitioner concerned about dotting the is and crossing the ts, no matter what they’re doing.

This character trait was never as evident as at this year’s conference where a new registration system was implemented.

On arrival, conference delegates were issued with what looked like a building security card containing their name and organisation, which had to be scanned on entering presentation rooms to ensure practitioners were accredited with the appropriate number of continuing professional development (CPD) points.

We all know what an integral part CPD points play in a conference and naturally delegates want to make sure they get these so that at least one objective of attending the event has been achieved.
But the SMSF Association conference crowd could be considered over diligent in this area.

It turns out they were so intent on getting the right amount of CPD points that they got up and left the session room only to immediately return when back-to-back presentations were being run.

In fact they were so meticulous about it that master of ceremonies Andrew Klein had to make an announcement that the technology had already taken the practice of consecutive sessions into account so there was no need for the revolving door manoeuvre.

Using new processes can be so much fun.

They said it:


“I think my daughter unfriended me [on Facebook] about three years ago due to privacy.”

Vanguard Australia head of market strategy and communications Robin Bowerman admits to the lesson he’s already learned in using teenage children as a guide to new forms of communication and privacy attitudes.

Social media trending


Make mention of the SMSF Association National Conference and we’re sure a lot of people envisage a conference centre full of straight-laced accountants and superannuation technical boffins.

And with all due respect, we’re confident the image that would not be associated with the event is an inordinate number of people around the world wanting to be a part of it.

If that’s the case, think again.

The Twitter hashtag for the conference was #smsfassoc and was already trending in social media circles at 9.30am on the first morning of the event.

At the time, the number one trending item was the Grammys, Taylor Swift was second on the globally trending topic list, and number three was, you guessed it, the 2016 SMSF Association National Conference.

The sceptical readers out there no doubt will be wondering what the trick was. And as chuffed as the association was with the result, it may well have had something to do with Twitter managing director Karen Stocks being one of the speakers at a pre-conference breakfast that same morning.

But no matter how it happened, we’re sure the SMSF Association will take credit for the achievement.

Harsh treatment


It’s often said you never really find out about an individual’s real personality until that person is no longer going to be part of your universe as they were before.

A good case in point is former FPA chief executive Mark Rantall. It wasn’t until his official farewell function that your scribe discovered he was quite the prankster within the FPA offices.

But as is the case with many mischief-makers, if you live by the sword, so shall you die by it.

And so it was that his FPA colleagues chose to deliver a few well-intentioned and humorous barbs at their soon-to-be former chief in the name of getting even.

At the time of his farewell, Rantall had not decided on his next career move or even if there would be one, with speculation his departure from the FPA could actually signal his retirement.

As such, his soon to be ex-staffers couldn’t help but remind him of how real a problem sequencing risk is and how the volatility witnessed in equity markets throughout the world in January and February meant it probably wasn’t the optimum time to be retiring.

While we think the ribbing was a little harsh, we are told Rantall took it in the manner it was meant.

They said it:


“I loved university way too much. Some subjects I just loved so much I went back to have another look at them. So the first two years of university was the most expensive party my parents ever paid for.”

QA Business chief solutions officer Clayton Oates reflects on his unforgettable days at university.

Stella Network pushing to change the cycle


Attendees at February’s Stella Network breakfast in Sydney were inspired as they listened to an SBS Tour de France broadcaster and two Olympic cyclists talk about the diversity battle within the sport.

Brad Mc Gee, the first Australian cyclist to win stages of all three Grand Tours, joined broadcaster Michael Tomalaris and world champion cyclist Katherine Bates to reflect on how senior executives at SBS made some important decisions and exhibited incredible integrity to back Bates as a presenter on her retirement from the sport.

By encouraging Bates to take up the commentator’s role, SBS was able to make a strong impact on female visibility and representation in cycling.

Stella Network head Julia Newbould drew on the similarities between Bates’s early experiences and the financial services industry, saying there was much to be learned about supporting diversity.

The message attendees walked away with on the day was the importance of the role men played in championing women in high-profile roles, which Bates, Tomalaris and McGee agreed could lead to positive outcomes.

Generosity as a growth strategy


During the SMSF Association 2016 National Conference in Adelaide last week, delegates wore lanyards with their name tag containing an ID chip. Before entering the plenary and breakout sessions, delegates were efficiently scanned by staff in order to correctly track and distribute continuing professional development (CPD) points.

At one point during the first day, conference MC Andrew Klein had to assure delegates they were not required to scan themselves out of the room in order to attend the following session, held in the same room. However, if some attendees missed this announcement, Klein also had a back-up plan.

“If you’re running out of CPD points, I’m not from the industry but I do go to financial services conferences all the time and I get scanned too,” Klein revealed.

“So I’ve got a hell of a lot of CPD points and I’d be happy to sell them to you at some point. I accumulate them like frequent flyer points that I don’t need.”

They said it…


“We recently rejigged the seating in our office and I ended up sitting with 20 and 30-somethings. I’ve learnt heaps sitting next to them: Kanye West is a guy’s name.”

Heffron SMSF solutions head of customer Meg Heffron introduces her session on targeted contributions roadmaps at the SMSF Association 2016 National Conference in Adelaide with a recount of her recent experience with work colleagues under 40.

A proper comparison


The retail sector has been suffering from years of frustration seeing the “Compare the Pair” TV ad campaign from the industry super funds, complete with its anti-advice message.

Time and again this scribe has wondered how the claims of Industry Funds Services have been allowed to get through Advertising Federation of Australia scrutiny - probably under the official “acceptable chest puffery” category.

So it was with great delight this writer recently noticed an actual accurate and meaningful use of the “Compare the Pair” concept.

It occurred during the television coverage of the 2016 Australian Open Tennis tournament when the nightly “Compare the Pair” moment consisted of a set of statistics aimed at assessing the chance of the players on either side of the net.

Certainly more insightful than watching two ladies on sunbeds or two blokes sitting on a park bench bagging each other about their choice of super fund.

500 miles


We’ve all heard the term ‘walking the walk’ to prove one can back up a boastful claim with significant actions.

Well the organisers at this year’s SMSF Association National Conference certainly put delegates to the test to see if they could walk the walk.

But the exercise didn’t have anything to do with practitioners demonstrating their technical ability or advice delivery. It was more about actually walking a lot, as the session halls were quite a distance from the exhibitors’ hall, where all food was served.

In fact, the amount of walking led to suggestions conference attendees would easily have satisfied the 10,000 step daily Fit Bit goal.

Stories in this column have previously detailed the use of music at industry events like this and, while popular tunes were not used at this conference, if one had been, it would have been I’m Gonna Be by the Proclaimers - better known as 500 Miles.