I just got back from the FPA NexGen conference at St. John’s College outside of Minneapolis and it was great. I couldn’t get over how different it was–and better–than the last one I attended two years ago. Mark Tibergien and Dick Wagner gave speeches, and moderated panels; both were great, but the rest of the conference was essentially conducted by NexGeners themselves. In fact, in contrast to years past, very few non-NexGen advisors showed up at all. Not that there’s anything wrong with “older” advisors (some of my best friends…), but there’s something about having a conference for NexGen advisors, by NexGen advisors that really worked. Not only for me, but my sense was it worked for the other attendees, as well.
I think the NexGen conference really fills a need in the advisory industry.
In most practices that have young advisors, there’s only one, or two if they are lucky. And they’re not socially or professionally a good fit with the rest of the firm: they’re much younger and less experienced than the owner/advisor, and usually younger and better educated than the rest of the staff. Sure, in larger cities there are plenty of other Nexgen advisors in the same situation, but with working long hours, family, and friends, most of us just don’t make time to hook up with our peers as often as we’d like.
That’s where the NexGen conference comes in. Once a year, we can get together with over 100 (125 this year) young advisors just like us: who are essentially in the same situation; dealing with the same challenges (relating to the boss, trying to grow professionally, balancing work and personal life, etc.); and who have similar goals (working with clients, making a major contribution to your firm, becoming a partner). It’s a time to tell war stories, share frustrations, and get advice and input from people who are going through exactly the same things that you are.
I think it’s one of the most valuable resources available to young advisors these days, and it’s no surprise that attendees form strong friendships with the people they see year after year from all over the country–and how those friendships carry over during the rest of year, too.