Michael Gerber’s famous business book “The E-Myth” points out that most small business entrepreneurs struggle because they spend all of their time working in their business, and too little time working on the business itself. Any small business owner who has a unique and valuable personal skillset – from a pie-maker to a doctor to a financial advisor – is particularly prone to this challenge, as almost by definition what gets them paid is the work they do in the business. And accordingly, to the extent they take time off to go to a conference once or twice a year, they tend to go to events that help them improve their skills in the business (i.e., continuing education), particularly since most regulated professions have CE requirements anyway.
To break the cycle for financial advisors, I’m declaring 2018 as “the year of the practice management (or career development) conference” instead. Because the reality is that there is an ever-growing number of choices on how to fulfill your annual CE requirements online, from conferences that are live-streamed or recorded for subsequent purchase, to an abundance of webinars on demand, and even the Members Section of this blog (and CFP professionals only need to complete CE requirements every other year anyway!). But the opportunities for good practice management content that actually helps you work on the business more effectively, or career development content that helps you grow to the next level, are few and far between. And when it comes to working on the business, it’s especially important to actually physically leave the business and go to a conference, as you have to get beyond your own four office walls to get a fresh perspective on your business or career.
Unfortunately, though, going to a conference is a major investment – with conference registration fees that can run $1,000 or more, plus the cost of airfare and hotel accommodations – which means it’s especially important to pick the right conference to get value. In fact, given that in recent years I’ve been speaking annually at nearly 70 conferences myself, and have presented at virtually every major conference in our industry, from the various membership association events to custodian and broker-dealer and even media publication conferences, I’m often asked for recommendations of what I think are the “best” conferences for financial advisors based on what I’ve seen.
Accordingly, in 2012 I started to craft my own annual list of “best-in-class” top conferences for financial advisors, based on my own travels and experience, and divvied up into categories that would make it easier for advisors to select what matches their own needs at their current business or career stage.
And now, I’m excited to present my newest list of “Top Financial Advisor Conferences” for 2018, all with a focus on practice management and career development. Of course, given that we’re all at different stages of our businesses, some events are much better suited to certain types of advisors, and accordingly I’ve tried to delineate which are the best depending on your size of business, industry channel, and/or career stage.
So I hope you find this year’s 2018 financial conferences list to be helpful as a guide in planning your own conference budget and schedule for next year. And I hope you make the investment – because the truth is that you just need one major takeaway to materially change the trajectory of your business or career in the coming years! Also, 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 (especially since a few early-2018 events have their Early Bird deadlines closing soon)!