The Financial Planning Association Professionals Congress ended this year with the consensus that a tsunami of fintech-inspired industry disruption is coming and largely welcome, prompting planners to seek out new solutions in the week following the event.

FPA head of policy Ben Marshan says tech was very much a core topic for this year’s event, and a reflection of the industry’s focus on how advisers are planning for an uptick in the convergence between technology and financial planning. A key part of the agenda for the congress was to address the spectrum of attitudes around fintech and drive the discussion around how best to meet modern client expectations.

“The interest in technology within the industry is very diverse, ranging from huge excitement to fear,” Marshan says. “I’m very excited by the efficiencies and engagement boost fintech can provide the financial planning process, and it’s great that we were able to bring that to life at the congress.”

The tone was set at the opening keynote session, when a new report from the FPA titled Mapping fintech to the Financial Planning Process: Why fintech is not a threat was released and discussed at a workshop called “Fintech – powering innovation in delivering change”. FPA chief executive Dante De Gori notes that the congress has already encouraged a higher level of engagement with fintech among advisers.

“The focus on fintech this year has prompted many of our members to actively seek out fintech solutions for their financial planning businesses,” he says.

This year’s event, held over two-and-a-half days in Hobart, was sold out six weeks in advance and sessions were well attended.

“It was a full house, which led to an amazing atmosphere,” Marshan says. “There was a great buzz around the whole event and the feedback we are getting is that members loved every aspect.”

A hallmark of the congress is its sense of community among advisers, which continues to grow, along with an appreciation for the opportunity to share thoughts and ideas.

“It felt like the collegiality and engagement of members went to a whole new level this year,” Marshan says. “Whether members were talking to colleagues or strangers, there was a great excitement for the profession, a flood of new ideas and a sense that things are moving in the right way.”

This sense of community was also evident in the focus on philanthropy, with the FPA’s charitable organisation, the Future2 Foundation, presenting the finale of its Wheel Classic fundraiser as the event’s opening spectacle. Marshan sees philanthropy as key to the relationship between planners and the public, and a meaningful way to help young Australians.

“The connection between Future2 and the FPA is critically important to the public trust the community has in the financial planning profession, so all of the events we organise have a focus on the phenomenal work Future2 does to support disadvantaged youths and give them a shot at financial stability.”

The FPA also recognised the exceptional achievements of Capital Partners Private Wealth Advisers at the congress. The Perth firm was FPA Professional Practice of the Year and Capital Partners lead adviser Michael Hayward took out the FPA Certified Financial Planner Professional of the Year award.

Asked to cite the most memorable line heard at this year’s congress, Marshan brought the focus away from fintech and back to people.

“Build great people into your business, and take that to your clients,” he quoted.

Sydney has been announced as the host city for the 2018 FPA Professionals Congress, November 21-23 next year.

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