There are many things an Update can do, but they don’t extend to feeling particularly funny as various parts of the world descend into something out a Hieronymous Bosch picture. A good week, then, to count our blessings in the way we understand them and be happy that for many of us our biggest trouble is niggling about this or that industry issue.
So the best thing we can do is to carry on and let this be a break from what’s happening elsewhere. We’ll start the ball rolling with a quick look back at last week’s HomeGame 3 conference in Edinburgh. This really was a joyous thing – at least it was for me – as is always the case when we get to put on a big event in our home town. We had a bit shy of 200 in the room and about 300 online, so 500 folk (maths!) got to experience a lot of wisdom, some Actual Arguments and a red-cloaked Oracle. They were also introduced to Lang the Cat, who defeated the hordes and won his-or-her boss battle at the end.
For those of you who weren’t there don’t fret! At some point soon we’ll get the sessions up on the lang cat’s YouTube channel – hi guys, welcome to the channel, don’t forget to mash that like and subscribe button, it reeealllly helps us out yeah? – and you can watch the living daylights out of them then.
The theme of the day was ‘save your progress’ – we were trying to work out what good has happened over the last decade or so, what still needs work, what we’re happy to keep and what needs to be thrown away. We made some progress on saving our progress, but there’s still lots to work out. Along the way we learned about how to treat estimates for when things will be launched – Jason Maude from Starling Bank nailed it when he said that if you ask IT folk for a date they will either lie or not be smart enough to know they’re meant to lie. In Starling’s world they release new code up to a dozen times a day; the idea of a big new upgrade release once a quarter isn’t part of their world at all. That same point was echoed by Dave Ferguson of Seccl in his debate with Jackie Leiper of Scottish Widows, which was a real highlight. Both sides of that debate about where change really comes from went at it hard, no quarter asked or given, and it’s testament both to the individuals and (if I’m allowed) the day that even after a full-on session everyone parted friends. That’s how we make things better.
Outside of that we heard from well over a dozen planners and paraplanners and there’s too much to cover here. But one of the things that will stick in my head is that none – not one – of them moaned about financial products. Or investments. Or CIPs. Or CRPs. Or even platforms. What they did moan about was the same two issues that we’ve covered here and here and lots of other places too – integration, and service. These issues persist, and it’s surely time for them to be robustly addressed.
With Edinburgh done, our next event in London (8 Feb, Kings Place, early adviser tickets available here) hoves into view – always happy to hear from folk who might like to be involved.
Away from our event, other people are having events and one of them is the Labour Party. Our own Alison Gay from the lang cat’s public affairs team is there and has been sending us regular updates. We can all do with a smile, so here’s an excerpt from her latest one and you’re very welcome.
Mood of conference: glittery
Number of mixed metaphors in keynote speeches – inexcusable
Number of policy wonks in danger of scurvy from an all-sausage roll and pastry diet – many
There’s no getting away from the fact that following party conferences is a pretty niche activity at the best of times, and given the current situation in the Middle East, any messages that Labour were hoping might cut through to the wider public are probably being drowned out by the international news.
That said, it’s not been a bad conference for Labour. Levels of activity and engagement are high. My initial thought was that there weren’t many financial services companies here – there aren’t all that many actually hosting events – but there are plenty of people doing the rounds. One thing I did notice – in the past, public affairs types would generally do both Labour and Tory conferences. I asked a fair few people if they’d been in Manchester too, and the almost unanimous response was ‘nah…no point’.
First of all, the stage invasion. The general consensus was that it didn’t do the speech any harm, not least because it meant that ‘Starmer’ and ‘glitter’ were trending together on social media for the first, and possibly last, time. But he handled it quite well and it gave him the opportunity to do the shirt sleeves, ‘man of the people’ thing. Much of the speech itself had been heavily trailed. The tone was upbeat. The emphasis was on ‘respect, renewal and service’ – and aiming for a 10 year, two-term plan, not just winning the next election. Afterwards I heard someone say that Starmer appears to be growing on the Party (in a good way, not like a fungus) and whereas they had previously tolerated him as a post-Corbyn necessary evil, he was now becoming regarded ‘almost fondly’.
Links below and your music choice? Well, Consumer Duty rides again tomorrow night at the Insurance Society of Edinburgh’s annual dinner, all raising money for refugees displaced by the war in Ukraine. So here’s a new favourite from the setlist, which is quite a lot more fun than I thought it’d be. Please enjoy of young Olivia Rodrigo with her pop hit “Good 4 U”. I don’t know, the youth of today need some proper grammar in their lives, don’t you think?
Ben will be here next week cos I’m not, so play nicely.