Synchron’s NextGen is not your typical conference. Instead of a series of speakers held at one venue, it takes delegates on a bootcamp-style journey experiencing a range of adrenaline activities and learnings with a team-building approach.
In its thirteenth year, the Australian financial adviser group’s bootcamp, which took place in Rotorua earlier this month, is specifically aimed at those 40 years and under, who are either a Synchron adviser or a sales executive from a product provider.
Synchron Director, Don Trapnell, says they are targeting this age group to improve their soft skills.
“My biggest concern about our industry as a whole, is that we have bred an entire generation of advisers who technically are exceptionally good but no one’s taught them how to sell anything. No one’s taught them how to engage in soft skills with their customers,” he said.
“There’s nothing wrong with talking to a customer and presenting the service that you wish them to be involved in, in the best possible way.”
“No one’s taught them how to engage in soft skills with their customers.”
The 2019 event was held on 7-11th November and Trapnell says it was the first ever off-shore NextGen conference and also the first time delegates were invited from another country.
Five New Zealand sales executives joined the other 67 Australian delegates in Rotorua.
Referring to the New Zealand delegates, Trapnell said, “They in their own right brought something to the table that we in Australia could learn from and we hope that they learned from us, in relation to compliance, maturity of the industry and maturity of the products and the services that are provided.”
Trapnell said future conferences will be held back in Australia, but they chose to take it to New Zealand this year because of the changes sweeping across financial services here which presented a valuable learning exchange for delegates from both countries. He added that they will most probably invite a few New Zealand sales executives to join NextGen in Australia next year.
During the conference, two trainers held sessions focused each on technology and marketing. “We don’t differentiate with our delegates between sales executives or BDMs and advisers,” said Trapnell. “So every person there, irrespective of whether they’re a sales executive or adviser, gains the same amount of benefit out of it.”
He said learning is more effective in groups and so split the delegates into eight teams of nine people. “We know that if a group of people bond together they will learn so much more than one big massive group.”
Each team undertook the activities during the bootcamp together, which included:
- Early morning walks, yoga and boxing
- Static skydiving
- Giant swing
- White-water rafting
The delegates also attended cultural experiences, explored a geothermal park and had a Gala dinner on the final night.
NextGen has previously been held in places such as Cairns, Darwin, Alice Springs and the Gold Coast and many delegates attend more than once, with at least a third coming back each year, said Trapnell.
“NextGen is unique in Australia, there’s no other organisation that runs a NextGen like us,” he said, noting they continue to raise the bar for the event each year.
“We’ll continue to raise the bar with NextGen because we think that is probably one of the most important things that this firm does for our industry.”