Last year, the annual conference of the Financial Services Institute attracted a record 608 attendees; this year the number stands at 743 registrants for the OneVoice gathering, to be held Monday through Wednesday in San Diego.

According to Chris Paulitz, FSI’s senior vice president for membership and marketing, there are 352 executives attending from the home offices of independent broker-dealers, out of whom some 80 are CEOs of those IBDs. Why the jump in attendance? “Our firm members are more highly engaged than they’ve been in the past,” says Paulitz, citing the regulatory environment for BDs, “which has gotten worse,” but also notes that “over half of our firms are in a mass campaign with us,” meaning that they supplement partly or fully their individual financial advisors’ membership in FSI.  FSI counts 100 financial-services firm members and 35,000 financial advisor members. 

(See this AdvisorOne article on two broker-dealers—Cetera and IEP Financial—who announced in January that they will sponsor membership of 500 of their representatives into FSI.)

Sponsors of the event have grown from 88 last year to 96 for OneVoice 2013 as of mid-January, and Paulitz says he is “starting to see sponsors getting more” out of the conference, partly because member firms are “bringing more of their executives to OneVoice.”

This year’s conference includes a leadership development workshop that precedes the formal opening of the conference on Monday, Jan. 28. That workshop—designed for both current and future leaders—will be led by author, and founder of Movenbank, Brett King, who will have a continued role later in the conference. On Tuesday, King will discuss in the morning what the world of financial advice will look like 10 years from now, and will close out the day by moderating a general-session panel discussion with the leaders of three differently sized BDs: Adam Antoniades of First Allied; Stephen Chipman of Foothill Securities and Amy Webber of Cambridge Investments.

The formal conference begins Monday afternoon with an assessment of what the 2012 presidential election means for the BD industry by Greg Valliere, chief political strategist for Potomac Research Group. Valliere, says Paulitz, will “translate political-speak for those who don’t focus on it every day.” From previous experience, Valliere’s nonpartisan but informed insights into how Washington works are always appreciated by advisor crowds.

Larry RothLarry Roth (left), FSI chairman for 2013 and CEO of Advisor Group, will deliver a “state of the industry speech” during the conference, Paulitz says, while a media briefing with FSI’s leadership will occur on Tuesday (look for additional onsite reporting from FSI on AdvisorOne every day of the conference).

The media won’t be allowed to attend what is one of the highlights of every FSI OneVoice conference: Wednesday’s closed-door discussions, which Paulitz says FSI considers the “think tanks of the industry.” The four-hour-long discussions include separate sessions for CEOs, compliance, marketing, technology and other topics. Paulitz said similar discussions held on a regional basis last August in Boston, Omaha and San Diego “were packed,” leading FSI to plan larger venues for similar regional discussions in 2013.