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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What You Should Know Before Leaving Your Firm

When it comes to leaving your firm, there are certain things every planner must know to avoid making mistakes that could have a negative impact on their career. It’s a topic that affects almost every financial planner, but is rarely, if ever, talked about in a public way. Let’s dig into what you need to know, including how it’ll affect your next steps when you make your exit.

Know the Repercussions of Your Actions

When you accept a position with a firm, you’ll most likely be asked to sign documents like confidentiality, non-solicitation and non-compete clauses. While it’s easy to write these documents off as “new employee paperwork,” you must understand that these are legal documents that can come back to haunt you later.

Here are some best practices for handling that paperwork:

  • Make copies of your paperwork. After you give your notice and have one foot out the door, it can be awkward to make requests of your soon-to-be ex-employer. You can avoid this by making copies at the beginning of your employment and filing them away for safekeeping.
  • Understand what you’re signing. If you’re going to sign a contract, it’s good practice to have it reviewed by a legal professional, so you know what your liabilities are. As a new planner or someone transferring firms, you don’t always know what to look for when reading a legal document. In general, you want to find out who owns the client, who can contact the client and what will happen if you take your client with you to your new firm.
  • Read the fine print. Some firms have contracts that require you to give a lengthy notice period. If you’re starting a new firm and think you’ll be able to hit the ground running two weeks after you give notice at current firm, you might find that you have to stay for another 30 days.

For more information about this topic, check out “What Did I Sign Up For?! Understanding Non-Solicit and Non-Compete Agreements” in the June issue of the FPA Next Generation Planner.

Plan Your Exit Well in Advance

Right now, you might not think that you ever want to leave your current firm. But there may come a time when you feel ready to start your own practice. In that case, it’s helpful to understand what it takes to make a smooth transition. Think of as many aspects as you can and how you’ll deal with them if that time comes.

  • Be ready for the unexpected. You might give your two-week notice and get escorted out immediately. If this happens, you could lose access to your contacts, emails and files. If you prepare in advance, you may be able to retain some of your clients, so you don’t have to start a new book of business from scratch.
  • Pay attention when others leave. Odds are, the way your firm’s management reacts to your co-workers when they head out the door is the same way you’ll be treated. This will help you prepare when it’s your turn.
  • Keep your plans to yourself. If, in your excitement, you tell a client about your plan to start a new firm, you could be in violation of a non-solicit agreement. This would leave you open to legal action and also burn bridges with your old employer, which is the last thing you want to do when already dealing with the stress of starting a new business.
  • Use your work computer for work only. When you leave the firm, any personal information you have on your computer or in your email will be taken from you and archived at the firm. Plus, if you start forwarding a bunch of work email to your personal account, it will set off alarm bells with compliance.
  • Understand how your products work. Some firms use products that are exclusive to them. These proprietary investments or funds can lock your clients in and getting out of them can bring significant fees. If your clients are using these products, you can’t service them properly and it makes it difficult for them to transition with you to your new firm.
  • Make connections before you leave. If you have co-workers you’d like to stay in touch with, either send them a note on your last day or reach out to them on LinkedIn. Making these connections before you move on is much easier because you still have access to their contact information.
  • Plan ahead. Of course, it depends on your employer and its work culture, but the general consensus is that you’ll want at least three to six months of preparation before you pull the trigger. That way you have time to prepare and figure out how (and when) you want to announce your departure.

Consider Your Exit Interview Strategy

When your last day on the job arrives, you may be asked by the firm to conduct an exit interview. Some planners may think that this is an opportunity to air their grievances, but you should understand that your exit interview will be archived and what you say could follow you for a long time. While you may think that burning bridges isn’t a big deal, remember that this industry is still pretty small. If a future employer called your firm asking if they would recommend you, you may find that your future job prospects are limited.

You Will Rebound

No matter how you leave your firm—whether it’s on your terms or theirs—know that you can rebound from it. Even if your exit leaves a sour taste in your mouth, remember that your clients are the most important thing. You can take comfort in the fact that all the training and experience you’ve earned in your career will stay with you. You are a better adviser for it and can use what you’ve learned to help your clients, no matter where you go. After making the transition to a new firm, you’ll find the next one to be much easier.

August Cover

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the August 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.

Sarah Li Cain

Sarah Li Cain is a freelance personal finance writer. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


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.