The EFPA (European Financial Planning Association) Italia Meeting on the theme “Wealth planning and personal branding: new challenges for EFPA entrepreneurs”, organised by EFPA Italia and dedicated to the professional development of financial consultants, was held on 5-6 May 2016 in Giardini Naxos – Taormina, at the Hotel Hilton Giardini Naxos. 800 professionals took part in the event together with the other participants and exhibitors. The total attendance reached 1,000, exceeding expectations of EFPA Italia’s organising committee.
The event, organized by Cogest M&C in collaboration with EFPA Italia’s organizing committee and with the local support of Sicilia Convention Bureau, positions itself as a track-record benchmark for EFPA Italia meetings, to the satisfaction of Sicily, the destination and fascinating theatre of this edition of the prestigious meeting.
After the event, President of EFPA Italia, Aldo Varenna, and the Board Member of EFPA Italia Committee, Sergio Malizia were interviewed by the Bureau.
Having closed accounts for the EFPA Italia Meeting 2016, reflecting back on the experience what are your impressions on this first time for the event in Sicily?
President Aldo Varenna: “As the President, I was initially worried about the choice of Taormina. My preoccupation was tied to the low density of financial consultant professionals in Sicily and to the location, less easy to reach than others. Dr Malizia, in his typically Sicilian stubbornness, promised me the result would be excellent, crossing fingers. All went well. The beauty of Taormina and its attractiveness certainly played a decisive role, compensating the geographical distance. The participation of our Sicilian colleagues contributed significantly to the success of the event. The uniqueness of the event was also an attraction. Great hospitality: from the airport to the hotel, the evenings. Sicily is a very hospitable land and this makes everything pleasant and involving. Not just forms but also substance: the numbers speak clearly. The challenge is now open. It will be difficult to beat Taormina.”
Dr Sergio Malizia: “An extraordinary experience, way above expectations. As a proud Sicilian, I was certain we would achieve a good result, but I was not expecting to reach this level. Last year, the 8th meeting was held in Genoa, with a record number of 614 financial consultants. This year we recorded 821 participants. If you count accompanying guests and exhibitors, we surpassed the 1,000 mark. After Milan, Rome, Florence and Sorrento, Sicily has beaten the competition of the previous Meetings and has set a new record!”
Dr Malizia, what do you feel played a key role in the excellent success of the event, also compared to previous editions?
“The charm of our land. Having planned the organisation well and having involved so many colleagues from all over Italy to help out had a positive impact. There were 50 people from Europe. More than 300 from Sicily, but the others came from all over Italy. These factors represent the strong points this year.”
From the comments you heard among the participants, is there any one you remember with particular pleasure about the location, both as a destination and as a venue?
Dr Sergio Malizia: “Some colleagues would like the meeting in Sicily to become a fixed appointment. This is very ambitious as it is contrary to the foundation’s philosophy which, for now, is to tour Italy, alternating between the North, Centre and South of the country. This is the ninth meeting, in the ninth different destination. I’m proud of the result because it means the destination and its network of operators are capable of providing answers and services, whilst at the same time providing an emotional experience. For this I have to thank the very valid support we received from Sicilia Convention Bureau, who chose the location and helped us find the right partners.”
Dr Malizia is joined by the President, Aldo Varenna, who, on the topic of the request to make Sicily a fixed annual venue for the EFPA event, states: “This is not a simple matter, as each perceives their own parochialism. We may not come back to Taormina soon, but we will return to the South. Repeating the event in Sicily would not be easy out of respect for other colleagues. Any other destination, however, will have to measure itself against the benchmark of success set by Taormina. The proposal put forward by our colleagues reflects the pride of Sicilians for the results achieved. A similar result is not to be taken for granted elsewhere.”
Dr Malizia, would you say Sicily is ready to host medium to large events? Does the EFPA experience help to dispel the false myths about the destination – which are usually raised for small meetings – and resolve doubts about the future of MICE in Sicily?
“In terms of welcoming, services and suppliers, Sicily is ready. Larger capacity congress facilities are needed. If we were to re-propose the meeting in Sicily, it would not be easy to find another location with a multimedia hall for over 1,000 people, with other side rooms for 100 people, with 1,500 sq.m on the ground floor – with a fully dedicated exhibition area – to welcome the sponsors that EFPA brought together this year.”
President Varenna, retrospectively, what value would you attribute to the support provided by the Convention Bureau?
“Very positive. We have a company that organises our events, Cogest M&C. The synergy between the agency that collaborates with EFPA and local operators with whom we have to interact each time is fundamental. In this case, Cogest M&C and Sicilia Convention Bureau worked well together, also thanks to Dr Malizia.”
Photo credits: EFPA Italia
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