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How To Get the Most Out Of Industry Conferences

Fall is the time of year for industry conferences, like the FPA Annual Conference in Minneapolis that starts tomorrow. These events are a great way to hone your knowledge, meet new people and stay up to date on new and exciting ideas in the profession. Here are some tips to make the most of your next event:

Set your schedule in advance. Find out what the sessions are and make a list of the ones you want to attend. This doesn’t mean you can’t make some changes once you get to the event, but oftentimes there is very little time between breakout sessions and you don’t want to be scrambling and trying to make a decision.

Get out of your comfort zone. It’s so easy to attend sessions on topics that you are more comfortable with. You should be using this time to expose yourself to new and unfamiliar topics.

Review the schedule with someone who knows and understands your career path. Before every conference, I go over my plans with one or two members on my team. We’ll review the sessions I’ve picked to see if there are other options that might be better aligned with my goals, skill set and ideal client profile.

Come prepared. You wouldn’t come to a client meeting without a way to take notes. The same goes for a conference. For some people that might be a laptop, for others it might be a pen and paper. Whatever system works best for you, just make sure that your notes are in a place that you can find them later.

Don’t skip the sponsors. Do your research ahead of time—who’s coming and what services do they provide? Can you make a good connection? Even if you aren’t sure their service may not fit your needs right now, they may later. Or, even better, an opportunity may come along where you can connect them with someone else.

Do some networking. Find out who is going in advance and make a list of people you might want to connect with. Many conferences have apps you can utilize for this, as well as LinkedIn pages or Facebook events. Find out if there are any meetups or dinners you could attend. If you see someone by themselves, ask if you can join them. Many people are attending these events solo and may be uncomfortable going up to others.

Do a data dump when you get back. You’ve just absorbed a ton of information, now you’ll want to put it together in a meaningful way. I like to schedule a meeting with the people I initially went over my schedule with and bring back my big takeaways.

Share with your team. Last but not least, share what you’ve learned with your team. I will usually review the key points at our weekly staff meeting and bring more specific topics in-depth to others that I know would be interested.

September NGP

Editor’s note: A version of this article originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of the FPA Next Generation Planner, an app publication that provides helpful and relevant content specifically for NexGen planners. Download the app in the Apple App or Google Play store. Want to write for the FPA Next Generation Planner or have story ideas? Email NGP@OneFPA.org

Jessica Goedtel

Jessica Goedtel, CFP®, is an assistant vice president at Valley National Financial Advisors in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


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Are You Adapting for Your Future Clients?

The pace of change today—from technology adoption to consumer demand for a personalized, convenient service experience—is unprecedented. What are financial planners doing to adapt to change, and how will they innovate in the future? These are the central questions explored in new research from SEI and FPA, which will be released at the FPA Annual Conference next week in Minneapolis.

Qualitative data from in-depth personal interviews with planning practitioners was combined with the results of robust online surveys of both planners and investors to reach the general conclusion that planners may not be effectively preparing for the client-centric experience that investors will demand in the future. The results of the joint research will be presented at the FPA Annual Conference in Minneapolis next week. Here are a few key takeaways (stay tuned to the FPA Research and Practice Institute for the full research report after it is released):

More Differentiation Needed

When asked to choose among 10 options that best described their primary differentiator, the most popular options among financial planners were “offers life planning and financial planning” (selected by 28 percent of the online survey respondents) and “fosters personal connections” (selected by 24 percent). Only 5 percent chose “other” and offered unique descriptors that could meaningfully set them apart from the competition, such as “tax-free retirement specialist.”

Nearly half (48 percent) of planners surveyed described themselves as generalists who work with any client who meets their minimum account size. Less than one-quarter (24 percent) of planners surveyed segment their clients and prospects by niche.

Meanwhile, investors were asked the top reasons why they stay with their current financial planner. The most popular reason, selected by 69 percent of investors surveyed, was because the planner is available to answer questions. Nearly 60 percent also indicated they stay because of the personality of their planner; simply put—investors like their planners.

Technology Disconnect?

Clients like you; that’s great—but will your likeability be enough to grow your business in the future? The investors who participated in the survey (686 non self-directed investors with investable assets over $100,000) were either very comfortable (38 percent) or somewhat comfortable (42 percent) with digital tools. Yet just one-third (31 percent) currently use an online portal to manage their accounts. Are planners missing an opportunity to provide clients the tech tools they are accustomed to using in other parts of their lives?

Although planners are well aware that technology will be a “theme” they will encounter over the next five to 10 years, just one-quarter of planners surveyed said that one of their top three business goals over the next five to 10 years will be to adopt the best new financial technology on the market. Planners also believe that technology is the key to freeing up more time to spend on personal connections with clients.

But, there may be disillusions when it comes to the work involved in adapting planning practices to new technology and evolving client demands. When asked how they expect to evolve their client experience over the next five to 10 years, only 22 percent of planners surveyed reported that they will have to adapt their process at all for the future.

Editor’s note: If you’re in Minneapolis and want to learn more about this research, check out the session “Advisory Firms in 2030: The Innovation Imperative” at 10:45 a.m., Wednesday Oct. 16 in MCC 101 HIJ. If you haven’t registered yet, do so today. Want to stay tuned into what’s happening at the conference if you’re not there? Read the conference blog

Schulaka Carly_resized

Carly Schulaka is editor of the Journal of Financial Planning. Reach her at cschulaka@onefpa.org. 


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Managing Our Most Valuable Resource: Energy

To achieve balance, we may need to integrate our personal and professional lives rather than trying to separate the two.

Research by Investopedia, Janus Henderson Investors and the Financial Planning Association shows that 65 percent of advisers feel that maintaining a reasonable balance between work and life is their most common challenge and stressor. But what is “balance” and how is it measured?

We can reduce negative stress and achieve balance by managing our energy.

Although most of us feel that time is our most valuable resource (since it’s the only thing we can’t make more of), the most critical and valuable resource we have as human beings is not time but rather our energy.

Time management can only take you from being physically absent to being physically present. Energy management, on the other hand, is what allows you to be fully mentally present. If you’re experiencing negative stress that’s keeping you from becoming your best self and living your best life—and research shows that’s probable—the problem is likely that you’ve been mismanaging your energy investments.

We can break energy investments down into four dimensions:

  • Physical—the quantity of energy we possess to fuel the body and mind
  • Emotional—the quality of energy we give to manage our thoughts and feelings
  • Mental—the focus of energy we engage to organize our lives and center our attention
  • Spiritual—the force of energy we apply to complete our mission and purpose

Striving for Balance

Perfect balance—an equal distribution of ourselves to all our responsibilities all the time—is unattainable. I spoke with Jack Groppel, the co-founder of the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, about this idea and asked him, “If perfect life balance isn’t attainable, what is?”

His answer was illuminating: “Life integration and oscillation.” While we try to compartmentalize our personal and professional lives, our environment typically doesn’t allow us to truly separate the two. By focusing on integrating those two lives—rather than striving to balance them—we may be able to blend them together seamlessly and activate a flow state of being.

But what does that mean, exactly? If we want to change the narrative of negative work/life stress due to poor energy management, we need to understand the following:

  • Managing your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy is key to becoming your best self. Making regular investments in each of the four dimensions allows you to create new capacity in all
  • The oscillation between stress and recovery is critical for growth in all four energy dimensions. Stress is the stimulus for growth, and recovery is where growth occurs. If there is no recovery, there is no
  • We are all creatures of habit. Whether you are completely happy or totally miserable, we are where we are because 95 percent of our actions are nonconscious and automatic. If we want to change our situation, we need to accept where we are currently, know where we want to go and then develop new, purposeful rituals that will become habits that support our ultimate mission.

Personal change doesn’t just happen: there is no little pill, no magic wand. There’s only purpose, truth, action and energy management. A few tips to start with:

  1. Become an observer (without judgement) of your current habits. What habits aren’t serving your ultimate mission?
  2. Do a daily thought download. Are you prioritizing your goals, or getting stuck in the same patterns of negative thinking?
  3. Learn where to draw boundaries. Stay focused on the things you can control, and the things that fulfill you.
  4. Eat small meals and snacks every few hours to provide your brain with a steady supply of nutrients and exert yourself physically to maintain an internal calm.
  5. Envision 90 days out and refine your ultimate mission and habits to meet you where you are today.

Unlock energy reserves to stay engaged and achieve peak results with our Energy for Performance workshop.

Lindsay Troxell headshot.png

Lindsay Troxell is director of Knowledge Labs™ Professional Development at Janus Henderson Investors. In this role, she works with the Professional Development Team and provides extensive consulting, training and practice management expertise to financial advisers. Troxell is a sought-after coach and keynote speaker. She leverages her experience as a financial adviser, G2 firm leader and executive management consultant to bring insight and intentional disruption ideas to clients, enabling them to differentiate themselves and better serve investors. Troxell earned a BBA degree in entrepreneurship and organizational development from Babson College. She has 13 years of experience in practice management, training, consulting and coaching and 17 years of financial industry experience.

Editor’s note: This post was reproduced in part with permission and under license from Investopedia. First published on 5/8/19 at https://www.investopedia.com/advisers-what-is-your-most-valuable-resource-4685771.