ILM Conference Special: Looking forward to 2024 and reflections on 2023

October 4, 2023

ILM Annual Conference 2024 will be the best yet

We are absolutely thrilled that the ILM Annual Conference will be returning next year on Friday, May 10.

Planning is already well under way for the big day and, thanks to all the wonderful and very positive feedback received, we expect 2024 to be bigger and better than ever.

Details of ticket sales will be announced soon, and watch this space for a very special member offer you won’t want to miss.

A big success this year was our ability to be way more interactive than before. Thanks to the technology, audience responses to questions could be seen – and then debated – at the touch of a button. Plus, we hope you’ll agree that the video compilation of the day was fun to look back on.

Those comments aside, we take the view that we can always do more and that’s why our team has been busy reviewing comments across every single aspect of the event.

Some things will stay the same – the venue being one of them as, (train strikes aside) the central London location seems to serve people well and etc.venues in Bishopsgate gives us both the space to network and excellent conference facilities.

Also staying the same will be the overall format. We believe having presentations from our conference sponsors (see below) worked well, especially as these were followed by a sector overview from Legacy Foresight and a popular interactive panel discussion to wrap up the day.

And of course, we know that the drinks reception, sponsored this year by Berrys, always provides the perfect opportunity to network, catching up with old friends and making new ones.

So what will be different?

We – and some members – noted that the area around the exhibition stands became quite crowded, especially at lunchtime. That’s why, to give future exhibitors and their visitors a little more room to manoeuvre, we’re working with the venue team to maximise the space.

Audience participation is always valued and we know some of you struggled to hear questions from the floor so for 2024, there will be a ‘floating’ microphone and one of the team will be on the spot as quickly as possible.

Our quiet room was also a success, so much so that next year we will be having a second quiet room available to book in advance. Of course, we don’t want you to miss a minute of the day’s activities, but we also recognise that sometimes you need space for a short, private session with colleagues and peers.

We’re delighted to say that we have already secured our three sponsors for next year:

Our 2024 drinks sponsor will be:

  • Savills a brief outline of the role of auctions in legacy disposals
We look forward to working with all of them as they prepare their topics for discussion.

And as a reminder of how good these sessions are, here’s a quick recap on this year’s three corporate partner sessions:

The Bolt Burdon team of Alexa Payet and Natasha McKeever were joined by Philippa Garrott of The Royal British Legion and Dr James Warner of Halycon Doctors, for a very interesting talk about Post-Covid Capacity Issues, including testamentary capacity.

Making the most of the technology, they asked questions such as:

  • If someone over the age of 80 walks into your office, what’s the probability that they have dementia – the audience largely voted for 5%, whereas the correct answer was 20% and Dr Warner revealed one in three people with dementia never receive a diagnosis
  • Do you think that schemes such as Update Your Will Week could encourage more will disputes – a fairly even split as just over half (55%) said yes, to which Natasha commented that the challenge is to ensure making a will isn’t “so expensive and onerous that legacies will be lost as people don’t bother”, versus the likelihood of having “post-death disputes costing thousands of pounds”

When discussing the application of the golden rule by solicitors taking will instructions, Dr Warner spoke about the need for a “heavy dose of common sense”, and said that if you are going to ask someone to carry out a capacity test then “be careful who you instruct” as some professionals may not be medically qualified to identify capacity issues such as delusion. He highlighted a number of “red flags” to look out for, including if an individual is indecisive or irrational and cannot justify their thinking, if they “chop and change”, and also if they are inflexible and unwilling to listen to advice from a will writer.

The Foot Anstey session was split into two themes, with the team of Helen Hoare, Lucy Gill and Emma Facey giving an entertaining talk entitled Team Work Makes the Dream Work, which focused on how people are an organisation’s greatest asset.

At its heart was how to work best together in the post-covid world of remote and hybrid working, and how to get the most out of technology such as Teams and WhatsApp. They talked about the Team Accelerator programme and how embracing The Four Insights Discovery Colour Energies has helped them to identify different character traits, enabling colleagues to recognise each other’s strengths and use that knowledge to improve communication, interaction and create a supportive culture.

They were joined by Rachel Richards from British Heart Foundation, who shared her own experiences of having joined BHF during lockdown and the different ways their teams socialise online via Teams chats, virtual coffee breaks, and celebrating and sharing successes.

Anna Phillips took on the second half of the session talking about the Implementation (of the) Charities Act 2022 Disposal of Land.

The third sponsor, Hugh James, saw the double act of Peter Spencer and Roman Kubiak talk about Working with the Charity Commission. Their Q&A style session examined how the Charity Commission works and what it is looking for in terms of Ex-Gratia payments, Serious Incident Reports and Failed Gifts following the 2022 Charities Act.

The session highlighted the results of a member survey on these topics, covering everything from Charity Commission response times to engagement levels.

There was an in-depth discussion around cy-près schemes (merged charities) and the impact this can have on failed gifts, as well as a look at the Act’s impact on changes to manage Gifts of Land.

Statistics, damn statistics

One of the things we took away is that our members love information and Legacy Foresight provided both statistics and excellent insight into the future of the legacy market. We’re pleased to say they will be returning in 2024.

To hear, as we did from Kathryn Horsley and Jon Franklin on the topic Resilience in the Face of Adversity?, that UK legacy income is expected to rise from £3.8 billion in 2022 to £5.2 billion by 2032, is a reminder of the huge importance of the contribution our sector makes to charities.

Yes, growth has halved during that decade compared with 2012-2022 but it was heartening to see that the following decade (2032-2042) is expected to see stronger growth again.

Much of the discussion centred around how to increase the percentage of wealth at probate going to charities from 3.5% up to 4%, a figure that would add £0.5 billion to legacy incomes. As Kathryn said: “How do we find £500 million?”, before explaining that it is less about increasing the number of gifts and more about increasing their value.

This led to a focus on how to reach the baby boomer generation – one in five of whom are now millionaires* – and what charities can do to drive high value giving.

Working with their colleagues from Legacy Voice, suggestions included advising charity legacy administration teams to talk to professional advisers (financial advisers, lawyers etc) who already have relationships with those high value donors; and secondly, to avoid being too transactional when asking someone to leave a gift. In other words, don’t ask for 1% of their wealth as they may well be thinking of a higher number.

A thought-provoking and interesting session that undoubtedly provided plenty of food for thought.

 *Networth analysis of ONS Wealth and Assets survey

Panel discussion was an audience highlight

What Are The Key Skills Required to be an Excellent Legacy Officer?, was the title of the final session of the day, which took the shape of a popular panel debate chaired by our very own Matthew Lagden.

Each of the participants – Helen Beach (Bolt Burdon), Mark Beale (Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care), Eleanor Evans (Hugh James), Helen Hoare (Foot Anstey), Sandra Morton (British Heart Foundation) and Rosalind Sherlock-Jones (now with WaterAid) provided their own insight, journeys and experiences.

The importance of training, taking advantage of networking opportunities, learning from each other, not being afraid to ask questions, and being a good communicator, were all common themes.

Eleanor spoke of the benefits of a collaborative approach and building a rapport between solicitors and charities; while Mark (who wears ‘different hats’ as both a hospice finance director and legacy administrator) talked about the need to remember lay executors may be grieving and to treat them “gently”.

Sandra pursued a similar theme, saying each executor’s experience is unique and every estate is unique, speaking in favour of being able to “read between the lines” and have an “ability to bend and flex to a unique situation”.

As the audience went on to debate the benefits and changes that AI may bring to the legacy sector, she concluded: “I would sum it up as humanity and that is why I can’t see a time when our roles will be replaced by Artificial Intelligence (AI) because that is what it can’t bring.”

Thank you to everyone who attended these discussions, it is your support that drives us forward and gives us new inspiration. We are already planning topics for next year’s panel debate and we’ll have more to share nearer the time.

What the audience said – our ‘roving reporter’ had a quick chat with some of the attendees and exhibitors

Conference regular Jonathan Eshkeri, founder partner of E&G Solicitors, an ILM Corporate Partner and specialist in Spanish property law, said: “I found everyone was engaged throughout and everything that was discussed was of interest to me and directly related to what I do.

“I found the discussion about ex-gratia payments particularly relevant as we tend to deal with Spanish estates, so I have not had very much experience of ex-gratia payments.  I now know things with regard to ex-gratia payments that I didn’t appreciate before.”

Attending only her second ILM conference, Lizzy Steward, Legacy Officer at Essex Wildlife Trust, was joined by colleague Philanthropy Manager, Rebecca Hughes. Lizzy recently completed her CiCLA and said the ILM’s support had been “invaluable”. She commented: “I think the (Legacy Foresight) statistics were the best bits as those are a really powerful tool to help push legacies internally, plus we definitely picked up some ideas around what kind of events we can organise and how to target potential donors.”

ILM Director Blerta Clubb, who leads the Legacy Income team at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, says she loved the “buzz and energy” at this year’s event. “Catching up with people I hadn’t seen for a long time is always great and I especially liked the mixed panel debates which offered a variety of speakers,” she said.

“In terms of balance between how much detail you provide in the conference sessions and how that works with an audience who often wear multiple hats, this year was about right. My highlight was the last (panel) session which was a good reminder of my journey and the people who inspired me, and of the skills we bring to these roles.”

Rosalind Sherlock-Jones, who is now with WaterAid, spoke about her legacy journey on the panel, was attending her ninth conference. She said networking was her highlight of the day, adding: “We send so many emails, to get to speak to someone in person helps foster the links you need in your job. Effective collaboration is key and if you have a connection then you feel you can talk to someone about things.”

For Laney Pitman, Legacy Management Officer with the NSPCC, this was only her second conference, as she explained: “2022 was my first conference and I had only been a legacy officer for about two months so most of it went over my head. This year I understood a lot more.

“I found the last panel session inspirational, as it gave me the liberty to be who I am and to know that everyone brings something different to the legacy officer role. The quote, ‘don’t be a robot, be a human being’ really emphasised the value of empathy and compassion.”

Zahraa Daoud, Legacy Assistant at WaterAid, who has been in her role just over a year and recently finished her CiCLA, wholeheartedly agreed that the panel was the highlight. She commented: “It was really useful to hear from people how they had grown their career. I really liked it when Ros talked about ‘bringing your whole self’ to the role, as well as the discussion about humanity and collaborating, so you are never really on your own.

“I also really liked the Legacy Futures talk with all the statistics, it was very helpful to see where the sector is heading.”

The event gave first-time exhibitor and corporate partner IDR Law, an opportunity to promote its Charity Claim Checker to legacy officers and highlight the benefits of its free-to-join IDR Network (IDRN)

Lindsay Gibson, Head of Marketing, said: “We had a very positive response to our stand and were very pleased with all the feedback. It gave us an opportunity to showcase our new Claim Checker for charities, a piece of legal tech we have developed that assesses the strength of a claims within minutes.

“By talking to delegates about their experiences in dealing with claims and disputes it provided us with some great insights. We were also able to highlight the IDRN, a referral and support tool providing on the go training and resources to help navigate any potential claims.”

A fellow first-time exhibitor was SenseCheck and the team made the most of the chance to talk to delegates about its onboarding and communications tool for legacies and what it can do for all of the different stakeholders from probate professionals to charities.

Nigel Jesson said: “It’s been great to meet and engage with so many people for the first time and introduce our user-friendly solution. It was an opportunity to run through what we are doing, making sure people understand the tools we have developed and highlight how we can help charities and lawyers to communicate more effectively and efficiently.”

In conclusion

We are so thrilled with all the amazing feedback and comments and, put simply, we can’t wait to do it all again in 2024. Thank you to everyone for their support and we look forward to seeing you next May.


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