January 29, 2013

FSI Kicks Off Conference With Standing-Room-Only Crowd

The Financial Services Institute kicked off its annual OneVoice conference in San Diego on Monday by touting both its successes in Washington and its more-than-healthy membership growth.

For those traveling to seemingly-always-beautiful San Diego from the cold and snowy northeast and Midwest, just basking in the sun with colleagues and competitors might be enough. Not so for the FSI brain trust. President and CEO Dale Brown and 2013 chairman Larry Roth used their welcome speeches, delivered to a standing-room-only crowd at the Marriott Marquis on Monday afternoon, to encourage more membership support from the attending broker-dealer executives and to warn of the dangers to the BD industry should FSI’s advocacy efforts falter.

Brown said the group has made good progress in both membership and advocacy as part of a five-year plan adopted by FSI in 2010. In a clever video presented at the opening session, FSI positioned itself as having had success in forestalling a “Washington money grab” and similar efforts by some key states, such as California, by defending the independent contractor status of IBD reps and keeping 12b-1 fees intact.

Roth claimed 2012 as the “biggest year FSI has ever had” in both its advocacy efforts and membership growth: there are now 100 broker-dealer corporate members and 35,000 individual advisor members of FSI.

Brown called on the attending BD executives to continue to sponsor more advisor members, and asked for their support in FSI’s first-ever financial advisor conference, to be held Sept. 9-11 in Washington.

The final registration number for OneVoice 2013 was a record 753 (up from 624 last year), and while some registrants had flight delays or cancellations, you only had to wander through the exhibit hall on the opening night, with its panoply of presidents and CEOs, to see the caliber of the attendees.

OneVoice is not a conference where the executive gods only occasionally come down from Mount Olympus to mingle with the hoi polloi: the hoi polloi at this conference are the decision makers at independent broker-dealers large and small. Not surprisingly, those who already partner with IBDs or would like to cozy up to the IBD community are a major presence as well. As one longtime industry observer mentioned to me in passing on Monday night: “This is the way FSI conferences go: there’s a Pershing dinner, and a Fidelity dinner.”

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Check out complete conference coverage at AdvisorOne’s FSI OneVoice 2013 enhanced landing page.

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