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The best industry conferences for financial advisors to attend in 2020

Every year, financial advisors have the opportunity to attend a multitude of industry conferences held across the country, and our choices seem to be growing every year.

And no matter where your office is located, these conferences are an investment of time and money. If you’re sending multiple members of your staff, which I encourage, you’re looking at a potential impact on your day-to-day business.

If those reasons are giving you pause to attend, you’re not alone. Among my friends and colleagues, I am always surprised by how many advisors never go to these events. 

The value of these cannot be overstated – the education component, combined with the incredible networking opportunities to talk to other advisors and business owners about their challenges and solutions is truly invaluable. The process of selecting which events will make the biggest difference in your firm may seem daunting. Don’t let that deter you! There are different types of events to choose from, such as custodian-sponsored events as well as industry association events and more specific events provided by your vendor and technology partners. 

I sat down and made a list of some conferences that I would recommend considering. Some have already occurred this calendar year, I linked to this year's information anyway so that you can get an idea of the agenda. Others haven't happened yet and it's not too late to register:  

1. Your custodian's annual conference

Your relationship with your custodian is a partnership, and these annual events offer lots of opportunities to talk to your peers and your representatives about your ideas and challenges. They are typically larger events held in major cities over several days, and the agenda is usually very comprehensive – meaning there is something for everyone. Perhaps most important, you’ll get an update on your custodian’s roadmap for products and services for you to take advantage of. Here are some examples listed in alphabetical order: 

  • Charles Schwab IMPACT - attended by over 5,000 advisors, asset managers and technology executives. Whether it’s expert-led sessions or conversations with fellow advisors or solution providers, the design of IMPACT is to inform and inspire. 

  • Fidelity Summit - an event where advisors have the opportunity to discover new solutions, collaborate with peers as well as Fidelity leaders and hear from speakers who are transforming the industry. The environment encourages and enables the exchange of ideas and best practices.

  • Pershing INSITE - INSITE provides an event for Pershing’s financial advice community, featuring a lineup of world leaders and industry experts. INSITE brings together clients, strategic providers and the experts of BNY Mellon's Pershing for inspiration, learning and networking. 

  • TD Ameritrade LINC - over 2,000 financial advisors attend this conference annually. RIAs are given the opportunity to schedule consultations to improve their practices, preview the latest advisor-focused technologies and engage with industry executives and experts. 

  • TD Ameritrade Elite - this is an invitation-only event and provides TD Ameritrade the opportunity to bring out their top executives and high profile speakers to provide business building ideas, leadership forums and plenty of networking events for the industry’s top advisory firms. This conference is open to a select group of advisors. 

2. National or regional industry association events 

I also recommend considering either your national or regional industry association events for added value. Depending on your business model or your beliefs, these associations often provide numerous opportunities to attend more intimate events to learn what’s going on in our industry and the latest regulatory issues. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to network with your peers.

  • AICPA & CIMA ENGAGE - the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) team up to provide over 350 breakout sessions aimed to strengthen business and provide insights to help accounting and financial advisory professionals evolve their organizations.

  • Bloomberg INVEST - Bloomberg brings together the influential, dynamic and innovative figures in investing for in-depth explorations of the challenges and opportunities posed by a rapidly changing financial landscape.

  • Bob Veres Insiders Forum- this conference is designed to provide essential information for running and growing prosperous financial advisory businesses while better serving clients. It includes advanced technical content, as well as valuable opportunities for networking with industry thought leaders.

  • FPA Conferences - the Financial Planning Association hold many beneficial conferences throughout the year in various locations: 

    • FPA Annual Conference - one of the largest financial planning conferences held each year, this gathering attracts CFP professionals and financial planning thought leaders from across the globe. The overarching goal for this conference is built around the sharing of practical strategies, tactics and knowledge designed to help attendees take immediate action.

    • FPA NorCal - this premier Conference has a national reputation for providing knowledgeable speakers and excellent networking opportunities for the more than 600 financial professionals who attend each year. FPA NorCal Conference is planned by financial advisors and sponsored by the East Bay, Northern California, San Francisco and Silicon Valley FPA Chapters.

    • FPA Retreat - the FPA Retreat is geared toward the advanced planner and has become synonymous with the growth and transformation of the financial planning profession. This highly-regarded gathering encourages free-flowing conversations among like-minded peers who share best practices, challenges and opportunities that further the art and science of financial planning.

    • FPA NexGen Gathering - geared toward young professionals who are ready to share their experiences and further the future of the financial planning profession. You must be a NexGen member to attend this conference. Expect to find 200+ attendees gathered to discuss hot topics and trends facing the next generation of financial planners.

  • Morningstar Investment Conference - the conference agenda addresses the industry's most pressing topics, from the complex world of fixed-income, to climate-aware investing, to the latest conversations about retirement and healthcare. Attendees can discover new perspectives on the market and ideas to put into practice.

  • National Association of Personal Financial Advisors - NAPFA is a professional association for Fee-Only financial advisors. They hold a conference annually to keep their members current on industry and regulatory trends and issues. Attendees are exposed to the best minds in financial planning, economics, and investments for a broad-based education on a variety of planning topics.

3. Technology and vendor partner conferences

Finally, I highly recommend looking at events hosted by your key technology partners. The benefit of these events is that you can interact with executives and provide feedback in real-time. You can learn to better implement and increase your ROI with your tech, as well as learn what exciting new features and functionality are in the works. 

  • Digital Wealth - a two-day forum of takeaways, networking and connections with the top minds in wealth and asset management. Attendees can explore how the most innovative wealth management firms, broker dealers, RIAs, robos and more are using emerging technologies that help better serve high net worth and retail clients.

  • FinCon - launched in 2011 as the Financial Blogger Conference, FinCon is the world's largest [Fin]ancial [Con]tent expo and includes some of the most influential digital and social content creators in personal finance space. It was designed to help financial influencers and brands create better content, reach their audience, and make more money.

  • Finology Summit - the focus of this conference is on investment portfolio construction, incorporating the relationships between people and money, behavioral economics and behavior change with an overarching goal aimed to help advisors build better quality investor portfolios.

  • In|Vest - more than 1,000 senior executives from all facets of wealth management attend this conference annually including; traditional banks, broker dealers, private banks, regionals and independents, online investment platforms, technology and service providers. Organized by SourceMedia, publishers of American Banker, Bank Investment Consultant, Financial Planning, On Wall Street and a number of other financial services industry publications. 

  • Technology Tools for Today (T3) - founded by advisor tech consulting pioneers Joel Bruckenstein and Dave Drucker, and is now widely viewed as the “go-to” event for advisor technology. The conference started more than 10 years ago and is the largest event focused solely and directly on “FinTech for Financial Advisors.”

Industry conferences matter

Having been in the business of financial planning and financial technology for over 20 years, one of the tools I have found to be most beneficial in helping firms grow are industry events. I often walk away with new ideas, new connections and a recharged momentum to get back to the office and apply what I’ve learned. 

Consider the time and expense spent on these conferences as a valuable and necessary investment in building your business – not just in running it. If you’re staying at home all year and not attending these types of events or at least sending staff to them, you are missing out on tremendous, and easy, opportunities to make a positive impact on growth. 

Many of these industry events meet continuing education (CE) credits for your practice. Remember that it only takes ONE actionable idea, learned from a conference, that can be applied to your business practice to make the trip worthwhile. 

Our >drive conference is one you might also consider. Whether you are a CEO, principal, advisor, or operations specialist, >drive will showcase the best tactics and tools needed to deliver better value to clients, grow your business and thrive in the future.

This blog is sponsored by AdvisorEngine Inc. The information, data and opinions in this commentary are as of the publication date, unless otherwise noted, and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered a recommendation to use AdvisorEngine or deemed to be a specific offer to sell or provide, or a specific invitation to apply for, any financial product, instrument or service that may be mentioned. Information does not constitute a recommendation of any investment strategy, is not intended as investment advice and does not take into account all the circumstances of each investor. Opinions and forecasts discussed are those of the author, do not necessarily reflect the views of AdvisorEngine and are subject to change without notice. AdvisorEngine makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made and will not be liable for any errors, omissions or representations. As a technology company, AdvisorEngine provides access to award-winning tools and will be compensated for providing such access. AdvisorEngine does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.

David Coyle

David Coyle

David Coyle is Senior Vice President and Head of Business Development at AdvisorEngine. He is responsible for all aspects of business development including client relationships and partnership opportunities. David has a unique blend of technology and business knowledge gained from more than 20 years of experience in the financial and wealth management industry. Prior to joining AdvisorEngine, David worked as part of the wealth management team for Interactive Data Corporation—helping financial services and wealth management firms to provide market data, mobile tools and web tools to customers and financial professionals. David also served in business development and sales roles with BlackBerry, Outercurve Technologies and Northstar System, though he began his career as a private client advisor with Merrill Lynch. David holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Messiah College.


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