After several years of turmoil caused by the pandemic, financial advisor conferences seem to have found a “new [post-pandemic] normal”, with events once again growing (some already surpassing their pre-pandemic highs). But that’s not to say that the conference landscape was not altered by the pandemic; instead, the pandemic appears to have served as a catalyst that accelerated trends that were already underway, such that financial advisor conferences today look substantively different than they did just a decade ago.
Most notable is the fact that industry associations are not the drivers of advisor conferences that they once were; while a decade ago, 75%+ of this “Best Conferences” list consisted of various events run by industry associations, now it numbers less than 25%. On the other hand, the past decade has seen an explosion of ‘vendor conferences’, as more and more companies have discovered it’s more economical to simply run their own conferences (at a breakeven or even a small loss) than to heavily sponsor the conferences of industry associations.
Some of these vendor conferences are built to bring out their existing advisor users to get feedback about and share the latest regarding their software, but a growing number of specialized conferences unto themselves have industry-leading content in the particular domain of the vendor’s expertise, from Snappy Kraken and Nitrogen’s advisor marketing conferences to DeVoe and Company’s Elevate conference for managing the complex financial advisor enterprise.
At the same time, new conference organizers have emerged as well – entities that see gaps between what conferences vendors host (based on the software or services they sell) and what associations provide – leading to new niche conferences like Advisor2X’s “Shift” conference on behavioral finance, to AdvisorCircle’s “Future Proof” conference (or as some are calling it, the Future Proof Festival Experience!).
The end result from the advisor perspective, though, is not dissimilar to what it was in the past: an overwhelming number of conferences to choose from, and a great challenge for advisors in figuring out which ones are really worth attending and sinking what is often more than $2,000 (in registration fees, hotels, and airfare), plus several days out of the office, in the hopes that it will prove to be a good use of time.
As someone who has been speaking at 50–70 conferences a year for 18 years myself, I’ve seen the good and bad of our wide range of industry events, from the industry associations to the broker-dealers and insurance companies and RIA custodians, the rise of vendor conferences and media-driven events, private company events, and more. As a result, I am often asked for my own suggestions of what, really, are the industry’s ‘best’ conferences to attend.
Accordingly, back in 2012, I started to craft my own annual list of ‘best-in-class’ top conferences for financial advisors, allocated across a range of different categories (as what’s best for solo advisors isn’t the same as what’s best for larger advisor enterprises, what’s best for fee-for-service advisors isn’t the same as what’s best for AUM firms, more technically-oriented advisors will prefer different conferences than those seeking practice management or marketing ideas, etc.).
Having updated our annual conference list every year since, I’m excited now to present my newest list of “Top Financial Advisor Conferences” for the upcoming 2024 year, with a particular focus on parsing through both the industry association events, the growing number of vendor and standalone conference providers… with our usual approach of parsing out the ‘best’ conference for a wide range of advisors with unique needs, from those who are looking for a conference on marketing or practice management (which varies depending on whether you’re a mid-sized firm or larger enterprise), or who want to see the latest in advisor technology, need help in how to price financial planning fees and systematize their advice offering, are simply looking for a good overall conference or particular advanced tax and technical conference… or just want an entirely different conference experience (for which Future Proof stands alone!).
In addition, we’ve also updated our popular “Master Conference List” of all financial advisor conferences in 2024, both for advisors looking for a wider range of events to attend (if you want to delve deeper into a particular topical area), and for vendors looking for more conferences to exhibit at!
So I hope you’ll find this year’s 2024 top conferences list (and our updated Master Conference List) to be helpful as a guide in planning your own conference budget and schedule for next year, and be certain to take advantage of the special discount codes that several conferences have offered to all of you as Nerd’s Eye View readers!