“We always try to focus on relevant speaker content; we don’t do sports stars or politicians” at IMCA events, said executive director and CEO Sean Walters in an April 27 interview, referring to the lineup of general session speakers and workshop leaders at the the Investment Management Consultants Association’s national conference to be held May 4-7 in Boston.
“Our rock stars are Blinder and Moyo,” he said, referring to former Federal Reserve vice chairman and Princeton economics professor Alan Blinder and author and economist Dambisa Moyo, whose work focuses on emerging markets, international business and the investment opportunities therein. “We don’t do motivational speakers, but stay focused on ‘crunchy content,’ Walters said.
He highlighted several speakers, including, in the practice management arena, Duke’s Dan Heath on decision making, which he said attendees would find valuable not only for themelves and their clients, "but also if you’re considering a merger or acquisition.”
A preconference workshop led by Eric Cott of the Options Industry Council kicks off IMCA 2014 on Sunday, followed by opening keynoter Blinder who, in addition to teaching and advising presidents, is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal. His topic is how to restore confidence in the economy and the markets.
Nate Silver, of FiveThirtyEight.com, made his name as a political statistician, and is one example of a national conference speaker, Walters said, who will help advisors “understand the signal through the noise” through a presentation that is "very high end but applicable.”
Other general session speakers, in addition to Blinder, Moyo, Silver and Heath, are Benjamin Pace of Deutsche Bank and Jeffrey Kleintop of LPL, Harvard Professor Michael Sandel on ethics and the markets, and Moshe Milevsky, the practical academic (and regular Research magazine contributor), who will speak on the “7 Most Important Equations of Retirement Income Planning…and How to Use Them.”
Reflecting IMCA’s growing RIA membership, Michael Kitces of Pinnacle Associates will be presenting twice during the conference — once on tax planning and again on retirement planning. “Our folks,” said Walters, meaning IMCA’s core wirehouse membership, “haven’t seen him that much,” referring to Kitces.
Noted advisor Ric Edelman will be a panelist on one of IMCA 2014’s "super sessions," while another familiar name to advisors will be Duane Thompson, president of Potomac Strategies and the former Financial Planning Association government affairs honcho, who will be on a panel discussing the "new normal" in wealth manager regulation. “Duane has been working with us on our government relations efforts,” Walters said, and while IMCA doesn’t “do advocacy or lobbying, we like to keep our members informed” on regulations and legislation that will affect them.
Since IMCA is all about education of its members, what is the IMCA braintrust focusing on in its national conference and other gatherings? “IMCA is the Investment Management Consultants Association,” Walters said, so the focus is always on “private wealth management and building portfolios. We cover the waterfront of possible strategies and techniques; hopefully we’re there before our members are there.”
So in its winter conference last December, “the theme was all around alternatives,” which will be continued in the national conference in the person of Chris Geczy from Wharton, who Walters said “brings the theory and practice together” when addressing alternative investments.
One other speaker of note that Walters mentioned is Amy Florian of Corgenius, a popular presenter at IMCA conferences who helps advisors “understand the physical and cognitive challenges” faced by aging clients.