It’s Annual Conference Jim - but not as we know it | Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association

It’s Annual Conference Jim - but not as we know it

02 October 2020

While PLSA would normally be gearing up to meet and greet delegates for its Annual Conference, Covid has meant that it has had to adapt. Here, PLSA Chair Richard Butcher, looks at what delegates can look forward to at our first ever virtual Annual Conference.

October comes round quickly. It always does. One minute you’re enjoying the summer sunshine, the next the crisp autumn mornings are setting in while I’m practicing my speech on the dog as I wander around the fields that surround the village and I’m packing my running shoes ready for the annual PTL sponsored 5km run. It’s Annual Conference season! 

I love the PLSA annual conferences. They are a great time to meet old friends, make new friends, enjoy debates about pensions with people who want to debate pensions and to learn new stuff. And the PLSA Annual Conference is, and I would say this wouldn’t I, the biggest and the best. For a few days we have a bubble of around 2,000 people filling the venue, hotels, bars and restaurants of whichever city we happen to be in that year. It’s almost impossible to nip out for a stroll or a sneaky bar of chocolate without bumping into a familiar or semi-familiar face.

This year will, of course, be different. We let the venue go, the hotels will be ghost like, the bars and restaurants will remain empty (after 10pm anyway) and the 5km run will be a solo effort along the riverbank.

But ‘different’ does not mean ‘dead’. 

For the first time ever we are taking the conference online. A brand new and radically different format for the grand dame of pension conferences. Will it be perfect? Whisper this as I don’t want to upset our hard working dedicated conference team – but probably not. It may be a little rough here or there, this is, after all, our first ever digital PLSA Annual Conference as much as yours, but will we be able to debate and learn – oh yes. And network and enjoy conference stands and listen to excellent key note speakers. All from the comfort of your own home. 

So go, make the most of it and let us know what you think. 

Almost more than any time in my life, the future is an unknown quantity. Covid 19 is not only upsetting the apple cart of our day-to-day operations it is also, potentially, changing the model for the future – swapping out the apple cart itself if you like. 

Do you remember Amazon when it first appeared? It was, essentially, an online version of Waterstones but without a coffee shop. In the 20 or so years since it has moved from being an analogue proposition delivered digitally to a fully digital proposition – a massive market where you can buy pretty much anything, have it delivered to your door within days or even hours and that can tell you what you want to buy. 

In the context of this year’s PLSA Annual Conference we’re at stage one of the Amazon journey – an analogue proposition delivered, by necessity, digitally. The next challenge is to ask ourselves how far towards the fully digital proposition we want to go. For my money, I think we should retain some of the key parts of the ‘analogue’ experience – that big bubble, the face-to-face time, the bar arguments about policy, the dinners with friends old and new, but I do think we can make some of the knowledge delivery much smarter; more accessible, more interactive, more personal and even more engaging. The board will start to think about this right after Annual Conference, but I’d love to hear what you think. 

October 2021 will come round quickly. Personally, I think we’ll still be working around Covid. That bit is unknown. What I do know, though, is that Annual Conference 2021 will be even bigger and even better than Annual Conference 2020. Tell me how you’d like it to be. 

Book places at PLSA Annual Conference 2020 here.

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