PIMS 2020: less is more

Last week I attended the annual PIMS conference. Obviously, this year was an entirely virtual event but the aim was the same: to bring advisers together with potential new suppliers.

A couple of years ago the organisers, Richmond Events, decided to move the conference from its traditional cruise ship venue to a hotel-based event. With Covid restrictions making meeting face-to-face impossible, this year the challenge was to make the virtual experience match up to past formats.

Did it work? I’d say it was a resounding success.

While there was no networking in the bar, or meetings over breakfast, lunch and dinner, the quality of the meetings I had was first class. Everyone was fully focused on the business side and interested to hear what we had to say, just as I was equally focussed on understanding the issues and challenges that they are facing.

Two of my colleagues also attended, presenting seminars on subjects that delegates selected as being the most interesting from a longer list of topics. Nic Spicer presented on ESG and Ben Peele on the value of advice. Both seminars were attended by almost half of the total of 80 adviser delegates signed up for the event. Feedback on the sessions has been great, with one adviser saying he found Nic’s ESG presentation “the most informative session of the conference”.

Virtually perfect

With the development of vaccines that promise to make 2021 a time when we can get back to life as we knew it, it will be interesting to see if the virtual conference will find its own niche. Certainly, Richmond Events ran PIMS like clockwork and the team there should give themselves a big pat on the back.

The positives for me as one of the suppliers include:

  • No travel time so more time to do in-depth research ahead of the meetings
  • Rigid time-frame for meetings which created a need to ‘cut to the chase’ in terms of the outcomes I was aiming for
  • No late night in the bar (and a very clear head the next day!)

Obviously, time will tell as to how valuable the event was in bringing new adviser partners on board but I have a diary full of follow-up meetings, which is promising.

It will be interesting to find out what the advisers who attended thought of the format. My guess is it’s a bit horses for courses. Those advisers who like the opportunity to get out of the office and network with peers plus meet potential new suppliers will be eager to return to the live action event. But there will be advisers who, like me, value the opportunity to have relevant multiple meetings in a well-organised, time-managed format that doesn’t require packing a suitcase for a night away from home.