FPA National Conference: Here’s What You Missed

By Gretchen Halpin posted 01-05-2023 20:35


If you didn’t attend the FPA National Conference in Seattle, you missed an event that delivered exactly what was promised: connection, learning, and community. With the conference being so close to the holidays, I wasn’t sure if FPA could pull off the depth and breadth of learning I had seen in the past. They did!

The exhibit hall was filled with businesses that helped elevate the profession in both service and dimension. The exhibitors provided interactive activities that kept the energy up even in that 3 pm hour. But the real value was in the sessions and networking opportunities. Here are a few highlights.

Networking with Keith Ferrazzi: Building Strong and Mutually Beneficial Connections

The conference kicked off with Keith Ferrazzi of Ferrazzi Greenlight. His book, Never Eat Alone discusses how to create opportunities in the world by networking with others using a relationship-based approach. This networking style distinguishes itself from the average networking approach in both its relatability and emphasis on quality over quantity. Inspired by Ferrazzi’s own experiences up the corporate ladder, his approach focuses on developing real relationships that go beyond the surface-level small talk of exchanging business cards. He encourages networking that is more mutually beneficial and creates strong connections between parties rather than seeing networking as an opportunity for self-promotion or to acquire favors or contacts for immediate advantages. Examples include not keeping score and giving more than you get, pinging or reaching out often – not just when you need something – and the titular never eating alone, to keep your social calendar full and remain visible and active in whatever circles you admire or aspire to. As he shares, being invisible is a fate worse than failing. In Beyond AUM’s article Are You Thinking of COIs All Wrong?, we outline how to build win-win relationships with your COI that follows a similar approach to Ferrazzi.

Gray Divorce and Recoupling: Legal and Financial Planning Issues for Older Adults

Kimberly Foss and I facilitated a session and open discussion on Gray Divorce and Recoupling: Considerations after 50. In recent years, gray divorce and cohabitation among those over 50 have seen a steady increase – making it even more important for financial advisors to be aware of the unique legal and financial planning issues that arise when an older adult introduces a new partner into their family unit. When crafting a comprehensive plan for retired clients, consideration must be given to implications such as Estate Planning, Healthcare Planning, and ensuring their financial interests are protected when entering a gray divorce or recoupling. Here’s a great resource from Empyrion Wealth Management. No matter the situation, communication with adult children about the necessary conversations with newly re-partnered parents is essential. Developing a clear plan for addressing possible issues with clients can help alleviate any confusion and hard feelings from within the family. This is also a huge growth opportunity for financial advisors. Incorporating topics relevant to this demographic can help educate your current client base, attract potential 50+ clients who need help, and better connect and engage with the next generation in the family. Beyond AUM provided a sample content workflow for advisors to learn about how to most effectively incorporate this into their content marketing strategy.

Emergency Continuity Planning: Protecting Your Business and Your Clients

Katie Burke and Bridget Grimes of Equita Financial Network covered Emergency Continuity Planning. While the emphasis in the industry has been on advisor succession, Burke and Grimes walked through their journey of protecting their businesses on the “what if” scenarios. They emphasized an understanding that it was their fiduciary responsibility to ensure that clients and their families were protected should the unexpected happen to one of them. According to them, one of the biggest considerations in a continuity plan is finding the right partners, and being part of a community of like-minded advisors makes this contingency much easier to implement. They answered questions on monetization, valuation, transition, and communication as part of continuity planning. Ultimately, they felt secure because their families and clients were protected from unthinkable scenarios, and that’s worth the time it takes to think through and plan around for advisors.

A Framework for Impactful Extended Care Conversations

A Framework to Start and Continue Impactful Extended Care Conversations by Carroll Golden, discussed the real impact that families face when they don’t communicate and plan for the reality of long-term care. Inspired by her own family’s story, Carroll’s book, How to Not Tear Your Family Apart outlines how having long-term care conversations with your family can be difficult and overwhelming, but it is an important step to ensuring that you are all on the same page when it comes to deciding on the best course of action. Using the three-step framework outlined in How to Not Tear Your Family Apart can help make these conversations easier by breaking them down into manageable parts. First, talk about long-term care goals and preferences so everyone is aware of them. Then, discuss all possible long-term care options and any financial implications they may have. Finally, develop a plan that works for everyone involved, taking into consideration the costs of long-term care and other factors like availability and urgency of needs. Though difficult, having long-term care conversations with family can help ensure everyone’s wishes are known and respected.

Spotting Dishonesty and Improving Your Communication Skills

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone that left you suspecting they were lying? Traci Brown, author of Liar Liar Pants on Fire, outlined in her presentation easy ways to tell if someone isn’t being completely transparent. Through her techniques and tricks, she offers keen advice on how to pick up on verbal clues, spot body language tells, and interpret micro-expressions that can give away even the most seasoned liar. She educated the audience on how to explore the why behind the lie but also pausing and asking curious questions that help uncover additional information to get closer to the truth. Although the presentation focused on dishonesty, the tactics are generally useful for active listening with leads and prospects, digging deeper on goal setting with clients or uncovering problems or opportunities during internal team check-ins.

Networking for Professional Growth and Advocacy

From a networking perspective, I was able to attend two receptions that had big missions. The first was the FPA Political Action Committee’s reception. As a nationally-recognized body, FPA PAC is an invaluable resource as it empowers FPA members and the financial planning community to join forces and make their voices heard in government. By getting involved in legislative processes, FPA PAC ensures that financial planners are adequately represented in Congress and can shape policies that will best benefit the profession. In other words, FPA PAC allows us to plant one foot inside the door of our nation’s state houses and send lawmakers a clear message: Financial planners matter! You can donate to FPA PAC here to help fund their 2023 mission.

As a co-host for the Women and Finance Knowledge Circle reception, this important networking event brought awareness to the power of inclusion and empowerment of women in the financial advisory industry. The ongoing work of this knowledge circle includes finding better ways to support women in the industry while also building best practices in serving female clients. While the group’s majority female membership is growing, male allies are an important part of the success of this group’s mission. If you’re an FPA member, you can join the Women and Finance Knowledge Circle in the online communities section.

Staying Ahead of the Curve: Strategies for Modern Wealth Advisors

The conference finished off with the always inspiring Sallie Krawcheck of Ellevest, with an eye to the ever-changing needs of a modern client base. Krawcheck ponders strategies that financial advisors should consider to ensure their practices stay ahead of the curve. From embracing new technology to an increased focus on diversity and accessibility, it’s clear that today’s wealth advisors need to be more forward-looking if they want to meet their clients’ expectations of top-notch service. Even the most risk-averse wealth advisor can benefit from stepping out of old ways to stay competitive.

And that’s a wrap!