The traditional finance conference was murdered this week.
A stake was driven through its heart by innovators tired of the old ways.
It was, to be fair, a mercy killing.
Living in the past, running on inertia, nobody bothered to tell the patient that it was time to say your goodbyes before we pull the plug. The industry had forgotten why it even exists: To serve an audience that wants to get out of the office, hang with its peers, and learn how to be better at what it does.
It didn’t take much to terminate the almost dead: Decades of the same people saying the same things in the same hotel ballrooms and conference centers were simply too much of a bad thing.
Coming out of the pandemic lockdown and looking to build on the “Wealth|Stack” concept they pioneered in 2019, the partnership between RWM and Advisor Circle threw the gauntlet down to anyone thinking about hosting a conference:
Stop boring us. Stop throwing us into giant windowless locations. Stop shoveling tedious panels forecasting the future at us. And no more wilted Caesar salad with rubber chicken…
Instead, feed our brains. Challenge us. Let us play outdoors. Fill the space with a mix of young people, women, people of color, a diversity of ideas and thoughts and approaches. Inform us of the latest technology and trends. Show us the next generation of tools that will allow us to do our business better.
And Goddamit, make it fun.
That was what happened in Huntington Beach, California from September 11th – 14th.
I cannot recall ever being at an event where everyone – EVERYONE – was so happy. It was much more than just a post-pandemic Yay! We got out of town! event. The buzz was joyous, the vibe was fun. On the beach, it was gorgeous and sunny and occasionally hot but it was unlike any event they had ever attended. Sponsors – used to being shoveled into a windowless basement where people walked by if they needed a hat or pen – were front and center, situated halfway between the main stage and the food trucks, running interactive programs.
There were some skeptics beforehand. People doubted the idea – it was too unconventional, too new. “It’s too risky for us to participate;” (Subtext: You’ll never be able to pull this off). But you have to take risks if you ever want to do anything worthwhile, different from the status quo, better. By the second day of the event, the FOMO was palpable. Many who had passed – speakers, sponsors, media – were already asking about next year’s event.
Yes, it’s locked in: September 10-13, 2023, Huntington Beach.
Years from now, when folks try to recall how the traditional conference industry died, you can point to this week. Remind them of the long decline over decades, and the failure to adapt and innovate. Ignoring what the audience wanted – a few days out of their busy schedule to attend an event that isn’t a chore, and fun, too!
The financial conference is dead. Long live the finance festival!
SAVE THE DATE: Future Proof 2023, September 10-13
Tesla, TikTok and taquitos: On the beach at the world’s first wealth festival (L.A. Times, September 14, 2022)
How financial advisors can create a more inclusive future for the industry (Financial Planning, September 13, 2022)
Amid heat and motorcycles, Ritholtz and Robasciotti kick off new Future Proof ‘festival’ (Financial Planning, September 11, 2022)
Conversation With the Cast of “This Is Not Financial Advice” (ETFdb, Sep 12, 2022)
Twitter: Future Proof Festival #FutureproofAC
Future proof Recap: Days 1, 2 & 3 (TBP, September 12-14, 2022)