On July 20-22, the Financial Planning Association and the NexGen community co-hosted the second annual NexGen Conference for the profession's future leaders. More than 100 attendees turned out for the event at Saint John's University in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Working at firms across the country, these new planners were eager to learn how they could contribute more to the future of the profession by fostering a community of like-minded individuals and growing their firms. Some sessions built on technical knowledge while others focused on career-relevant issues, helping attendees connect with the resources necessary for long-term professional success. "Be a part of what we are creating," said FPA president Nick Nicolette, as he welcomed the young planners to the conference. After explaining the significance of "the heart of financial planning"--the FPA tagline--Nicolette stressed the importance of networking and connecting with others in their community to build a "potentially successful future" together.
Patrick Kuhse kicked off the event with his keynote speech, entitled "Meeting the Ethical Challenges," advising attendees not to do something "just because it will make you a dollar." Formerly a successful stockbroker and entrepreneur, Kuhse spent time in prison for money laundering and conspiracy. He advised the young planners to seek guidance, keep a mentor, and to question the boss if a firm's work does not appear to be ethical. "As you climb the ladder of success, make sure it's leaning against the right building," he cautioned.
The conference then split into two simultaneous program tracks that gave attendees a choice of content. The technical track addressed basic topics such as alternative investments, retirement income, and global investing.
Some of the sessions overlapped with FPA Reunion 2007--a meeting that brought together some of the pioneers of the profession who were at the first FPA Retreat on the same Saint John's campus in 1981. The first featured a panel of experienced practice owners who gave their perspectives on what it means to "think like an owner." As a follow-up to a similar panel from last year's conference, this general session covered building a practice, managing employees, creating career tracks, meeting client demands, and marketing services. A second panel that brought the older and younger generations together was a software showcase in which four planners with different technologies shared what they liked and disliked about their software packages.