The fall is conference season for investment advisors and financial planners, marked this year by two of the biggest annual gatherings held just weeks apart–The Financial Planning Association’s meeting in Nashville the last week of October followed by Schwab Institutional’s Impact show, held this year in Washington, D.C., the first week of November.

At the opening general session of the FPA’s “gathering of the global financial planning profession,” attendees heard a band made up mostly of FPA members kick off the show country-music style. Executive Director Marv Tuttle got a rousing response when he asserted that the association “stands up for the common man and woman,” presaging more tough talk from the FPA leadership, notably President Dan Moisand.

After he introduced the winner of the 2006 P. Kemp Fain Award, Bill Carter of Carter Financial in Dallas, in a general session on October 22, Moisand addressed the stance the FPA has taken on two hot topics: the SEC’s broker/dealer exemption and the proposed revisions of the CFP Board’s ethics and practice standards. Moisand noted that FPA’s lawyers had made oral arguments before the court a few weeks before. While a ruling is expected soon, “in some ways, we’ve already won,” he asserted, since “our suit has made the public more aware than ever before that a financial planning profession exists,” and further that “our role has been defined in the minds of much of the media the same way we define our roles for ourselves.” As for the FPA’s approach to the proposed revisions, Moisand said “you made it clear you were disappointed with the Board’s proposals,” and called on the Board to “trash this proposal.” (On page 54, Moisand writes about what the Board got right in its proposal.)

At the Schwab show, nearly 3,000 attendees, including some 1,900 advisors, heard Alan Greenspan laud hedge funds as “extraordinarily important” instruments that expose, then remove inefficiencies in the capital markets. Hedge fund managers’ search for “niche returns,” Greenspan told the audience at the Washington, DC, Convention Center, “stabilizes the system.” He said the global economy “is in extraordinarily good shape,” noting that he’s “never seen an economy get into trouble when profit margins were rising.”

The former chairman of the Federal Reserve parried questions from Schwab chief strategist Liz Ann Sonders and attendees after being introduced by Charles Schwab, who praised Schwab Institutional President Debbie McWhinney for her work and inspiring enthusiasm.

In 2007, McWhinney said SI will mark its 20th anniversary through a year-long celebration that will include the launch of its GrowthPoint initiative (a practice benchmarking program), a print advertising and p.r. campaign touting the benefits of independent advisors, and a yearbook (in a partnership with Investment Advisor).

There were awards presented during the conference–the first Impact awards given to individuals and firms who represent the cream of the RIA crop. Tim Kochis of Kochis Fitz in San Francisco won the Charles R. Schwab Impact Award, presented by Chuck Schwab himself, for his contributions to the independent advisory profession over 33 years. Plante Moran Financial Advisors, operating in Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio, won the Best-in-Business Award, and RegentAtlantic Capital of Chatham, New Jersey, won the Best-in-Tech Award.