It is a sad reality that at most financial planning conferences, most attendees go out of their way to avoid being in the exhibit hall, due to a combination of exhibitors that don’t feel relevant, poor salesmen, and especially the few bad apples that really make the experience uncomfortable. Yet the reality is that financial planners actually should want to be in the exhibit hall – not only for the opportunity to find new vendors, service providers, and products for their businesses, but more importantly to do the requisite due diligence to ensure they are up to date on the latest products and services they can make available to their clients. In point of fact, doing such due diligence is arguably a key aspect of fulfilling one’s due diligence obligation as a fiduciary CFP certificant!
So how can the bad exhibit hall experience be fixed? The starting point is attracting a broader range of exhibitors than "just" insurance and investment companies, broker-dealers, and custodians, but also including software and technology companies, consultants, and more. From there, lay out the exhibit hall itself less like a random scattering of exhibitors and more like an efficient supermarket with aisles dedicated to certain types of companies, and wrap it up with an Ignite-style session built to allow a little bit of time for a lot of exhibitors to show what they have to offer so participants can choose who to follow up with for further information!