This year Jonathan and I attended the Financial Planning Association’s annual conference over October 2-5 in Chicago, and I thought our readers might be interested in what it was all about.
First of all, the Financial Planning Association itself is the trade group of CFP® professionals. The expression is that the CFP® Board mints, and the FPA nurtures. Through the FPA we network with other CFP® and related professionals (estate attorneys, accountants, insurance brokers, mortgage professionals, etc.), and earn our CE credits – 30 due every two years.
In the Miami Chapter, I’m proud to tell you that Jonathan Cameron is the upcoming 2019 Chapter President. I know how much work is involved, because I was the 2016 Chapter President. It is an honor to be recognized with a leadership position amongst one’s peers.
Chicago was our fourth national conference. The conference travels around each year, and previously we’ve attended in Seattle, Boston, and Orlando. Next year is Minneapolis. Not too sure about Minneapolis in October, but we’ll see. In any event, it is about a 3-day event of learning and networking.
The days are broken up into time blocks. There are several main sessions, where a featured speaker addresses the entire assembly on a broad, high-level topic. These are designed to take the planner away from the daily details of running a business, to think more broadly about the profession, the clients, and how we can best serve them.
Then there are the educational sessions. Typically, within a one-hour time block there will be 4-5 offerings. Before we even left Miami, we spent some time online looking over the schedule, and making our choices. Some sessions we attended together, and others we did separately, to maximize the value of the conference to us.
The technology used is excellent. We downloaded a conference app, and from there we could see the available offerings, the choices that we’d flagged, speaker biographies, and the slide decks from the presentations. For CE credits, at the end of the eligible sessions the speaker would give us a code to input in the app, and that’s all it took to generate the credits. We also reviewed each session there.
The sessions were excellent. We attended various ones, covering practice management topics to investment management to student loans. All useful to us in serving our clients.
The Vendor Area
The vendor area is as important to us as the educational sessions themselves. That part of Chicago – on the river, close to the lake, just outside the Loop – is three levels. The hotel entry is on the street level, which is the top level. The convention center was below the hotel, so just an escalator ride down. One level down were all the conference rooms, and one level further down was the vendor area. These are the people who fund the conference – vendors who pay for exhibition space. Here we got to talk to anyone and everyone about what they had to sell, and what the advantages of their products are, and do some evaluation between ourselves about whether or not we need it. Technology in our work changes nearly constantly, so we’re always open to a new tech solution.
We did arrive early and have a free afternoon at the end, so we walked around a lot. Chicago is a beautiful city! And coming from this former New Yorker, that’s saying a lot. The new skyscrapers keep getting taller and taller, and some of the architecture is stunningly beautiful. Getting around on the El trains is easy – and there is a direct train from O’Hare right into the city as we now have here. We spent our last afternoon at the Chicago History Museum, which was really quite interesting. Great pizza there, too. Nearly up to New Haven standards (my hometown).
We took a few photos – you can find them on our Instagram page.
We find the value in stepping away from daily tasks to take a broad overview of our work and our profession is energizing! It is fun to speak with other CFP® professionals, and get other perspectives from other parts of the country. We came back with all sorts of good ideas to ensure that our clients have an excellent experience when they work with us.
Glenn J. Downing is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and co-founder of CameronDowning, a Registered Investment Advisory Firm in Miami, FL. Please connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Also, check out the rest of the CameronDowning website where you can see dozens of short videos answering many of your personal financial questions. Feel free to email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.