Last week we fulfilled a big ambition and played a pivotal role in the successful staging of what we believe is the first professional unconference in UK financial services history: the Paraplanners Powwow.
More than 70 paraplanners travelled to Aynho – on the North Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire border – and met in a teepee encampment to meet in rolling farmland under open skies.
But the journey to the Powwow stemmed from a conversation about a year before — in August 2012.
Despite its emergence as a specialist research and analysis role within the UK financial advice arena over the past decade, a growing population of paraplanners lacked a made-to-measure gathering for their profession.
Richard Allum, a leading figure within the UK paraplanning community, asked us a question: how can we create a genuinely unique event experience exclusively for fellow professionals?
MEMORABLE AND MEANINGFUL
Our strategy was to create an unforgettable gathering with a strong sense of social, practical and professional purpose for paraplanners from across the UK.
Taking inspiration from native American powwows, and in order to make a clear break from convention, we created the Paraplanners Powwow – an event held under open skies, which exploited the unique character of teepees to act as catalysts for conversation and cooperation in-the-round (you can see the reaction to the event via this real-time search on Twitter).
By adopting unconference principles for content, participants were able to design their own day from the outset – determining the date and location of the event all the way to the topics for discussion on the day itself.
INDEPENDENT, NOT-FOR-PROFIT, HIGH IMPACT AND LOW-COST
Organised as a strictly independent, not-for-profit event, we worked with Richard to create the lowest cost/highest impact event as possible. To do that, we complemented income generated from participants ticket sales by pooling contributions from a portfolio of enlightened financial services brands who expressed an appetite to support — and paricipate in — the Powwow event.
THE MAKINGS OF A MOVEMENT
The success of the format has led to a proliferation of smaller regional Powwows in Leeds, London, Nottingham and Manchester, which are independently organised by paraplanners but supported by the original Paraplanners Powwow. These mini-Powwows have also been boosted by being granted continued professional development (CPD) accreditation by the Institute for Financial Planning (IFP).
THE NUTS AND BOLTS
We managed event experience from strategy through to live event production – including web, e-mail and social web content and communication, ticketing, and pre and on-event coordination of teepee construction, catering, audio visual, branding, signage and event continuity.