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How much did these firms pay to win their awards?

Last year, our research showed that 69% of financial advisers/planners believe buying a table at an awards event would increase their chances of winning.

Following that research, we asked the judges and organisers for their views. They all agreed there’s no link between buying a table at the ceremony and winning. However, several exchanges on X (formerly known as Twitter) clearly show that at least some advisers/planners still believe the myth.

So, after asking the judges and organisers, there’s only one group of people left to go to: previous winners. We asked firms who’ve won awards a simple question: “Do you believe the judges’ decision was influenced by your attendance at the ceremony?”

Here are their answers:

David O’Hara, Corbel Partners: Professional Adviser, Best Advice Network 2023

“2023 was the first year we entered any awards. We were surprised and delighted to make the shortlist for the Professional Adviser awards in the Best Network category. We were up against some stiff competition and didn’t think we’d win, so thought there was no point attending.

“Despite not attending we still won. For me, that categorically proves there is no link between winning and attending the event.”

Dominic McLoughney, Becketts: Professional Adviser, Adviser Firm of the Year 2023

“This I can be 100% clear on. Our attendance had nothing to do with the wins. I say this as we were guests at another provider’s table when we won in 2022 and we were not going to the Professional Adviser Awards 2023 until around a week before the event.

“Their team reached out to us and strongly suggested that we would enjoy the event if we attended. With the time frames involved, two of our advisers could attend but no directors or support staff. When we received messages and photos that we had won the national award, and we got to see our two younger advisers accepting the award, it was a moment of great pride.

“I can understand why many feel the awards are “paid” for as a marketing spend, but I can assure you that they aren’t. One of the judges of last year’s award contacted us after the event to congratulate us. She provided some amazing insight into the level of scrutiny the judges go through and how they are assessed.

“It’s quite incredible and is a testament to the award organisers. Hearing this increased the pride we have to be recipients of the awards and to help show other smaller firms that winning at these events is possible – without spending a penny.”

Scott Gallacher, Rowley Turton: Multiple award winners over many years

Not at all. We won when we didn’t attend the awards evenings. And we’ve been shortlisted for the same awards in future years.

“Also, some awards don’t even have a paid awards evening.”

Dom Spalding, Expert Wealth Management: Professional Adviser, Adviser Firm of the Year – South-East 2023

“I don’t believe this to be the case. We won Professional Adviser’s Adviser Firm of the Year in 2022 but we did not buy a table. The directors were not able to attend, so our practice manager and one of the team attended the awards evening on behalf of the firm.

“In 2023 we took the whole team to the Professional Adviser Awards evening. We purchased a table but fell short in our aspiration to win Adviser Firm of the Year.”

“Our understanding is that there is no link between winning an award and purchasing a table.”

Nikki King, The Aspire Partnership: Professional Adviser, Adviser Firm of the Year – South-West & Wales 2023

No, we took a couple of seats on another table rather than paying for one of our own, and were late to confirm attendance, so I can’t think that our attendance had any impact on winning the award.”

Steve Perera, Britannic Place Wealth Management: MoneyAge Awards 2023 – Micro Wealth Management Firm of the Year

“We have never bought a whole table. We have always clubbed together and purchased a table with other firms.

“The very first awards dinner we went to had one of the firms in our category as a main sponsor. They had a whole table up at the front and the owner of the firm even presented an award for another category. However, they didn’t win our award, one of the firms that had shared our table did instead.

“This gave me more confidence that the judges’ decisions weren’t influenced by that sort of stuff.”

Nick Platt, Henwood Court: Multiple award winners over many years

“If you win, absolutely not, if you lose, possibly ?. On this point, the costs for a small business to book an overnight London stay, buy a table for the team, and pay for their travel would run to almost £10,000, a massive outlay and a cost I wouldn’t pay, even if it won us the award!”

3 questions you need to answer if you still believe awards are rigged

The judges, organisers and winners are all clear: there’s no link between buying a table, or attending the ceremony, and winning.

Yet I know some advisers/planners will continue to trot out the lazy trope that winning is somehow linked to attending the event. If you’re one of them, here are three questions you need to answer:

  1. Where’s your evidence to prove there’s a link between buying a table and winning?
  2. Judges aren’t told who is attending the event, so how is their decision influenced?
  3. How did firms, who didn’t attend the event, still win?

Answers to if you please!

Finally, in next week’s blog, if you’re a firm planning to enter awards in 2024, you can read about some of the benefits you’ll get.

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