Conference expands practicality

Andrea Slattery

Andrea Slattery

The SMSF Association has designed four new workshops to specifically meet the needs of specialist members at its 2016 National Conference in Adelaide from 17-19 February 2016.

Based on the topical issues of limited recourse borrowing arrangements (LRBA), in-house assets, the acquisition of assets from members, and trust deeds, the workshops, limited to 100 specialist members each, will be structured around specially prepared case studies.

The specialist members at each workshop will be divided into teams, facilitated by industry experts, to solve a range of problems related to each of the four topics. This initiative, the first for a national conference, aims to offer these members the chance to participate in practical, hands-on workshops in a way that replicates, as far as possible, problems they face every day in their workplaces.

Just as it happens at work, the problems will be analysed collaboratively to find the best solution. This is why it was decided to limit numbers so as to capture a working-type environment and ensure specialist advisers return to their businesses at the end of the conference enriched by their experience. With numbers limited, it will definitely be a case of first in, best dressed.

Every year conference organisers spend long hours devising a program that challenges, invigorates and stimulates delegates who take time out of their busy schedules to attend what has become the pre-eminent event on the SMSF calendar.

Next year will be no different. The conference will adopt the life-cycle theme that proved so popular last year and will be held at the brand new Adelaide Convention & Exhibition Centre. It will boast 45 conference sessions, 65 expert speakers and networking opportunities with specialists across the professional spectrum.

To kick-start the event, delegates are invited to join the conversation at the thought leadership breakfast, “The future of wealth management and advice – what forces are shaping advisers’ roles?”

This year’s breakfast attracted speakers of the calibre of Financial System Inquiry head David Murray, former Australian ambassador to the United States Don Russell and former Reserve Bank of Australia director Warwick McKibbin to the forum, and the line-up promises to be just as exciting in 2016 with Twitter Australia managing director Karen Stocks as one of the presenters.

No doubt the advisers in the audience will have their views on what’s going to shape their industry, whether it be technology, the convergence of accounting and financial planning, or the disruption being caused by the advent of new ways of offering advice, such as robo-advice.

The role the legislators and regulators increasingly play in this industry is also likely to get an airing. What worked a treat last year was the audience interaction and next year’s breakfast should be no different.

Another innovation will be the two special interest group sessions to be held concurrently on the first day before the official opening. At one session, Elixir Consulting managing director Sue Viskovic will address the topic “Planning for success in the future of advice”, while in the other Licensing for Accountants chief executive Kath Bowler and SMSF Academy managing director Aaron Dunn will discuss “Licensing for accountants – how far can you go before you fall off a cliff?”

Other plenary sessions are also certain to attract interest, with AMP SMSF head of policy, technical and educational services Peter Burgess speaking about “What’s changed, what’s about to change, and what’s still to come?”

In addition, day two will see Vanguard Asia-Pacific head of the investment strategy group Jeffrey Johnson present the topic “What next for client portfolios?” A timely issue considering both the market volatility in Australia and overseas and the fact SMSF trustees are increasingly looking to diversify their portfolios with offshore assets definitely on their shopping lists.

SMSF Association national conferences are not all work, and with this in mind, the organisers chose to hold the event in Adelaide, coinciding as it will with the internationally renowned Adelaide Fringe Festival. Just in case anyone didn’t know, it’s also Australia’s wine capital, with numerous famous regions in short driving distance from the city, and for those who love their golf there are any number of internationally recognised golf courses.

Registrations are now open, with early-bird offers (including first-in-first-served registrations to limited capacity sessions) available until 30 November, so make sure you secure your seat. In addition, there is the opportunity for industry professionals to sign up as an SMSF Association member to take advantage of the pro-rata annual membership.=

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