I have just returned from the AIA Conference – the old buggers put on a reasonably good show. Although, it is one of those events that without the energy of the coordinator Donna Meadows I don’t think it would fly nearly as well. The theme of the conference was Outcome Oriented Strategies for individuals Investors. Interestingly, most (read 99%) of presenters read the brief as what is the opportunity for me to take money off the attendees. As a result most spent their session acting as shills for their own, product, package, fund or piece of software. The classic presentation seemed to revolve around making the investment process look so hard to be almost impossible for the mere mortal, so they needed to buy whatever product, package, fund or piece of software was on offer. I actually find this sort of thing profoundly annoying since it devalues the people in the audience because they are obviously regard as too thick to work anything out for themselves. Believe it or not it is actually easy in a 60 minute session to deliver something of value to the attendees so that they walk away feeling as if they are capable of implementing something they have heard. This was the approach taken by my long term mate David Chia who spoke about momentum based strategies – it was simple, to the point and emphasised importunely that everyone brought something unique to the investing process. It also recognised that not everyone needs the same sized shoe.
It was also interesting to watch people on the sell side of the profession. It is not often that one hears such a self centred, confused and somewhat nonsensical stream of crap as when you get to listen to these people. The sub text of their message is that every investment vehicle/instrument in the world that I cannot sell is evil only those that I can sell you are good. There is nothing quite like advice rooted in hysteria and half baked ideas.
Leaving the conference did get me thinking about how difficult it is for people who attend these events. Folks come with the best of intentions but leave utterly confused and without a firm direction and to be honest I have no idea how you would solve this problem.