This past August, the Financial Planning Association gave us a glimpse of the future leaders of the profession by hosting its first-ever NexGen 2006 conference.
The conference was formed, the FPA said, to create a "community of practice" for the next generation, primarily younger financial planners. More than 100 attendees (43% of whom were women) turned out for the event in Estes Park, Colorado. The majority, armed with college degrees in personal financial planning, are working at planning firms across the country. Many attended, they said, to learn how they could contribute more to the future of the profession and to the growth of their firms.
Paul Fain of Asset Management Corp. in Knoxville, Tennessee, kicked off the conference with a musical beat in the first keynote speech titled, "A Practice 31 Years in the Making." While he played the guitar, Fain shared a story of loss, relating how he inherited his late father's planning practice, dysfunctions and all. Fain's bottom line message to attendees: employees are an investment in the future vision of a pioneer's company. Whether you're inheriting a practice like Fain did, buying one, or simply employed by one and seeking a partnership track, helping the owners to carry out their company vision is how young or new planners can build for themselves an ideal career.
Two simultaneous program tracks--technical and career development--gave attendees a choice of content. The technical track addressed basic topics such as the AMT, portfolio construction with alternative asset classes, and elder care issues under new regulations. The career development option addressed more personal questions: implications of making a job change, multigenerational working environments, working in a business that is not growing, and ownership considerations.
All attendees were brought together for two other keynote events. The first featured a panel of young and old practice owners who gave their perspectives on what it means to "think like an owner." Topics covered included building a practice, managing employees, creating career tracks, meeting client demands, marketing services, and keeping up with the ever-changing demands of a dynamic industry. Bob Veres closed the conference with his trademark wit and insight and a call for younger planners to share their talents. "Younger people tend to be closer to the present," Veres said, "your mission should be to communicate to your employer the most effective ways to change their firms today, that could dramatically enhance your, and their, tomorrow."
Angela Herbers is a virtual business manager and consultant for independent financial planning firms. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.