Conference season is officially upon us. As you consider whether a conference is worth your time, you’re probably asking the question, “Will this conference be in person or virtual?” 

I’m excited to be attending in-person conferences again. It will be fun to reconnect with industry friends and hear the latest thinking on everything that’s on advisors’ minds. 

In fact, I’m attending three upcoming conferences, all of which are RIA focused: 

  • Bob Veres’ Insider’s Forum in Nashville, TN
  • NAPFA National Conference in Boston, MA
  • #XYPN Live in Denver, CO

What topics are advisors most excited to hear about this fall?

In a time when quality content (and CE credits) has become ubiquitous, conference providers need to be especially adept at adding value by answering the questions that firm owners are asking, especially if they hope to attract in-person attendees. A quick review of these three conference agendas reveal some emerging common themes, giving us more than a hint about what advisors have been asking for. Interestingly, I noticed these themes mirror conversations we at SEI are having with advisors.

While the vast majority of the attendees represent the RIA community, the content is certainly applicable to advisor firms of all shapes, sizes, and affiliation types as well. 

Four topics I’m excited to dive into at each event:

  • Technology: Technology offers firms the opportunity to better engage clients and prospects in a digital world. It can also increase efficiency as a means to help more clients in a more meaningful way. Ultimately, it improves the client experience and helps advisor firms deliver a modern, user-friendly, interactive, and collaborative experience. 
  • Business model and fee model considerations: The industry has shifted from transaction-oriented to fee-based/assets under management-oriented. That means that revenue and business models are emerging that go beyond these constructs, and have begun to gain traction. How else can advisors align their business model with clients’ best interests? I’m excited to hear how some firms have successfully implemented these models and how they’ve been able to apply to them to different consumer demographics, with benefits to both the clients and the firms that support them (in that order). 
  • Regulatory and compliance: The regulatory environment is an area of constant speculation that potentially has far-reaching implications for firms managing risk and pursuing opportunity. What are the key topics advisors should consider in 2022? All three conferences have sessions on the regulatory environment, with NAPFA and #XYPN Live devoting sessions to the new Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Marketing Rule. 
  • Business growth, succession, acquisition, and merger topics: A number of sessions across all three conferences are designed for firms looking to streamline their growth and marketing in a digital world. These sessions will certainly cover organic growth and tips on marketing and messaging. However, many firms are choosing to solve for growth via acquisition or merging. It’s top of mind for many firms, because there’s an expectation for deal flow to accelerate given potential capital gain increases next year. Overall, each conference provides sessions to help firms contemplating growth and transition, regardless of the path that works best for them.

In summary, what topics best capture the questions advisors are trying to answer? 

  • How can advisor firms leverage technology to better deliver advice and improve efficiency?
  • How can advisors build deeper relationships with clients, help more people, and do it in a way that serves the clients’ best interests?
  • How can advisors truly differentiate themselves?   
  • And how can they do all of this while staying in line with a rapidly shifting regulatory environment – and all in a virtual world?

Advisor interests don’t stop there. There are other hot topics on the conference agendas, including portfolio construction guidance, soft-skill development, client communication, and the emergence of cryptocurrency. 

SEI will have speakers at both the NAPFA and Insider’s Forum. If you’re attending, stop by our booth. Our presentation, Beyond the Basis Points – The Value of Advice, helps simplify the complexity of being advisors by giving guidance on how to approach technology, partnerships, and finding ways to differentiate as a means to building more meaningful client relationships. Our goal is to help advisors get information about the questions they are asking, examine their potential options, and then build a plan.

After all, investors deserve advice that puts their interests first. Our goal is to enable that advice by supporting advisors that provide it. 
 

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