A Visit to Vietnam

Xin Chao

Last week I had the privilege of attending the Centrepoint Alliance Annual Partner’s Summit. This year’s event was held in Hanoi, Vietnam.

My previous visit to Hanoi was 5 years ago, back in 2013. While the colours, tastes, and heat & humidity of the city remain unaltered, the skyline is rapidly changing with new high-rise buildings cropping up all over the place. Yet, the Old Quarter, with its narrow lanes, old buildings, incessant traffic, and spaghetti-like power lines preserve the history of this ancient city. Remember, in Vietnam, a red traffic signal is merely a suggestion!

Rather than sounding like a Trip Advisor review, this blog is devoted to some of the messages I took out from a number of the world’s leading experts in their respective fields.

The first keynote speaker was Gabrielle Dolan. Gabrielle spoke about the importance and power of personal stories, and how we can use stories to communicate a message with our audience, whether it is a one-on-one or a much larger group.

Some of the key take-outs were:

  • Reduce the use of jargon and acronyms. Gabrielle is the founder of a movement she calls ‘Jargon Free Fridays’. Imagine going an entire day without using jargon in our conversations?
  • Stories need a sequence – a beginning, a middle and an end
  • Stories must be congruent and true
  • Stories must be of a specific event – not generalisations
  • What is the message? Use one story for each message. Stories should only be one to two minutes in length (I think that one was aimed at me!)

Gabrielle’s presentation also included some very useful tips for ‘finding stories’ to tell.

Carl Richards was up next. Originally from the US, Carl currently lives in New Zealand. As a tool to communicate, he uses sketches to explain complex financial concepts in a manner that is easily understood by his audience. He has authored two books:

  1. The One Page Financial Plan: A Simple Way to be Smart About Your Money, and
  2. The Behaviour Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money.

Carl has also written a weekly column for the New York Times.

The thrust of Carl’s presentation was around the concept of ‘real’ financial advice as opposed to ‘fake’ financial advice. Real financial advice is offered by those advisers that place their client’s interest at the forefront of everything they do. And that results in a relationship built on trust.

Wrapping up day one for keynote presentations was futurist Michael McQueen. Michael’s message was all about preparing now for what’s next.

Some of the key take-outs from Michael’s presentation include the four influences for the coming decade, including:

  1. Widescale automation – from artificial intelligence to driverless cars – the technology is on our doorstep now!
  2. Unconventional competition – our competitors in business will not be our traditional competitors.
  3. An empowered marketplace – customers control your brand. Just consider the impact on United Airlines last year when they unceremoniously removed a passenger from one of their flights because they, the airline, had overbooked the flight. That video, posted on YouTube has been viewed over 4 million times and the backlash against the airline has been significant!
  4. Generations – for financial advisers, Gen Y is a mystery. How do they think, how do they act, how do they want to be communicated with? When dealing with Gen Y, we need to think quite differently and understand their preferences. And that is probably going to involve the use of technology and online engagement.

Sadly, from a recreational perspective I didn’t have a lot of time to explore Hanoi and its unique personality on this visit but hopefully, there may a time in the future for a revisit – ideally when the weather is a little cooler! If you haven’t been to Hanoi and the wider Vietnam, it is certainly a place worth considering for your bucket list.


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