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Monday, 18 January 2010

Financial Services is about to become much more fun

Teamspirit spent two days last week at the first social media in financial services conference. The brainchild of Phil Calvert at IFAlife - the specialist IFA's social network - it set out a bold vision for how IFAs should be approaching their online interaction in an era of online connectedness.

In doing so it helped to set out a model for a more connected, more life planning focus, that would put building a relationship through online social means at the heart of the IFA's relationship with their customers. This was the New Model Adviser's conference, it wasn't about suggesting that IFAs do a bit of blogging. This was about reaching out to new audiences, building networks through multiple channels and turning an IFA's social graph into it's commercial graph. This was about transforming an IFA's business plan and putting marketing at it's heart.

With high quality best practice presentations from Google, LinkedIn, youTube, BTTradespace and the BBC IFAs were exposed to the ways they could transform their organisation with the low cost social tools that are now available to all. This was backed up by the real life executional examples set out by Jaime Steele at Northern Financial Services who are using video in particular to transform their approach to market and Nick Bamford at Informed Choice who outlined the company's new personal finance information, guidance and implementation site Brilliant with Money. These are two organisations already highly engaged in building significant online presence and unlike the past are keen to share the learnings they have made with the rest of the industry.

The best practice was supported by a focus on how to help build and connect a small business from Thomas Power at Ecademy and Alan Stevens 'the Media Coach.' Their straight talking common sense approaches to building trust with audiences went hand in hand with Graham Jones' explanations around understanding the psychology of modern communications online. These were all key to developing a new level of empowerment for IFA businesses.

The new advisers are coming (some would say they're already here). These are nimble, relationship led, content hungry entrepeneurs. Mike Linskey helped to outline what the future can look like for these businesses with excellent examples from the states such as mint.com, Smartypig, Billshrink and Centscity.

This is what IFAs are going to look like from now on it's up to providers to provide the tools they need to execute and the content they can use to help them plan for their clients. IFAs are no longer anywhere near as reliant on providers to ensure their businesses grow and make profits and providers need to understand this before they get completely cut out of the loop.

Notes from the conference:

Chris Fox's overview

Richard Allum 'The Paraplanner's' thoughts

Crispin Heath
Head of Digital

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