This year’s annual Financial Planning Association conference, FPA Experience 2013, will be both traditional and modern, in various ways.
Kicking off Friday with preconference sessions presented by the Kinder Institute and Pride Planners that run into Saturday's formal opening of the conference in Orlando, there will be 1,600 preregistered attendees, FPA CEO Lauren Schadle said in an interview, though she expects more walk-ins. In addition, there will be participants from 20 countries, including Japan, Australia, the U.K. and India, in what the Schadle calls the “annual gathering of the financial planning community.”
Helping out and networking at the conference, which ends on Monday afternoon, will be some 80 university students in financial planning study programs (there’s at least one social gathering designed to introduce those students to potential employers), some of whom will be participating in the conference's Financial Planning Challenge.
In addition to the standard general conference sessions with speakers like author Daniel Pink, Harvard Business School professor and psycholoigist Laura Cuddy and economist Tyler Cowen, whom Schadle said will deliver “a mix of business strategy and the human behavioral side,” there will be some new offerings this year.
One is the FPA Virtual Experience, which in addition to streaming some live sessions will also archive some 40 sessions for the next three months (with some 30 CE credits available). Schadle said FPA expects “hundreds more” advisors to interact with the Virtual Experience.
Another wrinkle in the conference of the “national member association for CFP professionals” is a track designed to bring together academic researchers and attendees. Sponsored by the Journal of Financial Planning, several research papers in progress will be presented to attendees, whose practical experience is designed to help the authors sharpen their research focus.
So what’s the value of a national conference when many FPA chapters and regions present their own conferences? Schadle said that while FPA national was “very proud of the large chapter network,” and that the national organization “always looks for ways to support them,” that FPA Experience could present “some speakers you can’t get locally” and that “one annual conference for the financial planning profession is very much needed.”
She also noted that the day-and-a-half Pride Planners preconference meeting, which will focus on educating advisors about the challenging issues faced by the LGBT community, was an example of the national organization “providing access to cutting-edge” content for its members; a majority of those sessions will also be archived, she said.
Networking among advisors outside of the planned sessions is always an important component of FPA Experience — “in the corridors many of the juicy conversations happen,” Schadle admitted. But she also mentioned that there would be a number of interactive “Meet the Pro” sessions during the conference, featuring the likes of Michael Kitces, the advisor polymath, and Carolyn McClanahan, who in addition to being a CFP certificant is also a medical doctor who likely will talk about health care planning.
Schadle concluded: “We’re trying to be that community space,” where such important conversations about topics important to advisors happen.
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