The Financial Services Institute marked its first decade of existence during the opening session of the FSI’s OneVoice conference in Washington, D.C., with FSI CEO Dale Brown saying the location made sense because “that’s where the action is” for the broker-dealer group’s advocacy efforts.
Brown promised that the conference, which has 775 attendees, would include the “most provocative and relevant content we’ve ever had,” for which he credited conference chairwoman Amy Webber, president of Cambridge Investment Research.
More kudos for Webber’s programming work came from FSI’s 2014 chairman, Mike Mungenast of ProEquities, who also called on the assembled BD home office attendees to grow FSI’s membership: “We need more firms” to subsidize FSI membership of individual financial advisors, he said.
That’s exactly what ProEquities did itself, and in a media briefing on Tuesday morning, Mungenast said that when it withdrew its subsidized membership, more than 90% of ProEquities’ reps renewed their membership. As for other goals during his chairmanship, Mungenast listed work on financial literacy and elder issues.
Webber then introduced the keynote speaker, business consultant and author John Spence, who regaled attendees with a blizzard of advice delivered in a rapid-fire manner to a receptive audience. Beginning by noting that “for those who are prepared, chaos brings opportunity,” Spence urged the audience to strive for “nimbleocity,” a term defined as a business strategy that combined nimbleness with velocity — enacting change quickly. Successful managers, he said, recognize patterns in their markets and then react quickly to take advantage of those patterns.
Among the keynote speaker’s prescriptions and warnings for the broker-dealer executives in attendance:
There are only two major differentiators in business these days: the quality of the people on your team and great customer relationships. Spence emphasized the importance of attracting and then retaining top talent in an organization, and encouraged those who are managers to consistently communicate to their employees their value to the business. Noting that 80% of people who quit their jobs do so because of problems with their immediate bosses, Spence said managers should praise their employees at least once every seven to 10 days, as part of a process to build and foster a culture in which good work, and workers, are shown appreciation for their efforts.
Spence went on to say that his favorite business axiom is “ambiguity breeds mediocrity,” arguing that most businesses do a poor job of setting clear expectations of employees, failing to provide them with the metrics that both parties can use to determine an employee’s success or failure.
One of the unique features of the programming for OneVoice 2014 is that the speaker list has been expanded to include some high-profile experts who might normally be seen at an RIA-focused conference rather a BD conference, such as Mark TIbergien, CEO of the RIA custodian Pershing Advisor solutions, who spoke in a Tuesday morning breakout session, and advisors like Deena Katz, who is in attendance for a Tuesday afternoon session on “Growing the Next Generation of Advisors” with Kim Dellarocca of Pershing.