If you look across the landscape of large-scale conferences, one-day mini events, and even virtual workshops targeted to financial advisors, it’s easy to get overwhelmed quickly.
Some days it seems like every technology vendor, industry publication, and increasingly even advisor consultant has an event of their own.
You might look at the list and ask yourself: “Why in the world are there so many conferences?”
Many people were asking that question before the COVID-19 pandemic took out events for two years, and the rumor mill was awash with people wondering if the conference scene would ever fully bounce back. Would some conferences go away?
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As it turned out, the pandemic wasn’t the death knell for in-person events that some thought it might be. While some have taken an understandable hit to attendance, it seems as though that brief “stay at home” period actually created a higher demand for events.
And that’s the real answer to why there are so many conferences. It’s not because there’s a ton of money in it for a company to host a conference of their own. It’s because as people, we need connection, and the connections we form at in-person events are on a whole different level than those formed at virtual conferences.
While conferences are great, you can’t (and shouldn’t) attend them all. With so many conferences available, you have to understand what each offers you and then pick one or two to attend.
And that’s where the Three Crowns Top Conferences for Financial Advisors list comes in. As we do every year, we’ve assembled a list of our favorites.
So without any further introduction, here are the conferences we view as the best of the best for financial advisors in 2023.
Conferences are listed in the order they occur.
When: February 5-8 in Miami, FL
Why: The first Exchange launched last February, and the conference opened with a number of interesting ideas (the marching band that kicked off the whole thing, for example, was a big change up from the countdown video with EDM soundtrack that typically leads into a conference opener).
The first event prioritized small group settings in addition to the standard schedule of breakout sessions and keynote speakers, which isn’t something we’ve seen anywhere else.
The content is what matters most at events, though. As the name suggests, Exchange is a “who’s who” of folks from the ETF industry, and it’s also a good place to stock up on CE credits right away.
If you’re looking for a conference where you can bring your significant other and spend a few extra days after the final keynote wraps, there are no better options than Miami’s Fontainebleau Hotel.
When: February 27-March 2 in Orlando, FL
Why: Advisor technology companies put on some of the best events, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t call out the good folks at Orion and how they’ve managed to create a user conference that has gotten bigger and better every time they’ve hosted it.
This year’s event hits Orlando, a favorite stop on the advisor conference circuit. Like the Riskalyze event, Orion Ascent is a place where advisors can go to spend a lot of one-on-one time with training staff and learn about the latest technology roadmap from company leadership.
A wealth management platform is one of the most important tech tools a firm can select — possibly even the most important. If you want to become a power user or are exploring your options and want to get more connected with the advisor community surrounding the software, there aren’t many better ways to achieve those goals than adding this to your list.
When: March 13-16 in Tampa, FL
Why: Do you like technology? Do you want to discover the next up-and-coming advisor support solutions before all your friends? If the answer is yes, then the T3 conference is a place where you want to go.
The conference operates with a vendor-first mentality. If you attend, know that the agenda is built to give airtime to the exhibitors – but that’s by design. Attendees are there to see demos, hear about new updates to their tech stack partners, and generally get time to dig deeper into their favorite platforms.
And for the vendors, it’s a tremendous time to build deeper cross-platform connections. T3 is a conference where deals get done.
When: May 3-5 in Las Vegas, NV
Why: There’s always room for improvement in the realm of digital marketing. It sounds like hyperbole, but from where we stand it’s simply a fact. The Jolt! Conference, hosted by marketing automation platform Snappy Kraken, is the industry’s only marketing-focused event and that alone makes it noteworthy.
If you’re a CMO or marketing director at an RIA, or even just a solo advisor looking for new and fresh ways to communicate with prospects and clients alike, Jolt! is a place where you get dedicated time to step away from the numbers side of your brain and lean into your creativity.
We expect the keynote speakers to again be fantastic, but this is about more than feeling inspired. Jolt! is the place to be if you want actionable tips for improving your marketing with advice directly from Snappy Kraken leadership, as well as the industry’s best independent marketers and advisors paving the way themselves.
When: May 21-24 in Hollywood, FL
Why: Last year’s WealthStack was an interesting experience. Organizers took WealthStack, Inside ETFs, and RIA Edge and ran the events concurrently. The tracks were separate, but all three events were taking place in the same space at the same time. It was both impressive in its scope, and also a little disorienting as a result.
The first run of any big idea is never without a few lessons learned, though, and we’re excited to see how the event adjusts and improves this year.
Like T3, WealthStack is a tech-focused event where advisors who want to invest in their technology should get a return on their attendance. And like Exchange, Inside ETFs is geared more toward the investment-centric crowd. RIA Edge presents the opportunity to attend “think tank” style presentations.
If you want to attend multiple events but only have the time or budget to hit one, this event is one place where you can hit all the different areas of your firm that you want to level up.
When: June 5-8 in Las Vegas
Why: If you’re working in a wealth management firm that’s attached to an accounting firm, or you’re just someone who prioritizes tax planning for your clients, the AICPA conference should be near the top of your list for the content alone.
But it’s more than just taxes. Estate planning and financial planning are key focuses here as well.
We’re also big fans of how you can choose to attend the event either in-person, or virtually. For the budget-conscious advisor who wants to learn at multiple events a year but can’t make the travel schedule work, it’s great to see conferences being accommodating with virtual attendance options.
When: September 10-13 in Huntington Beach, CA
Why: Let’s be honest: All industry events, no matter how “good” they are, follow relatively the same format. You go to a nice hotel in a destination city, and then you spend the next three days navigating the hallways of that hotel as you hop from one session to the next. If you’re lucky, you get outside the hotel for a dinner or two inside the city.
The Future Proof Festival embraces the city and makes it a part of the event – so much so that the event is held outside. If you want an experience and not just a place to grab your CE credits, Future Proof is the place for you.
Like Exchange, Future Proof was a brand-new smashing success last year, and we expect even bigger and better things out of the event now that it’s in year two.
When: September 12-14 in Nashville, TN
Why: You might think that Carson Excell is just an opportunity for Carson Group to find more firms to bring in as Carson Partners, and while we’re sure this event is a great recruiting opportunity, the conference itself is a valuable resource for growth-minded advisors.
You don’t have to be someone who models their firm after Ron Carson and the giant that he’s built to get value from this event. Excell has a tremendous variety of topics in its agenda, but the practice management focus and ability to learn from and connect with some of the industry’s top thought leaders today, like Jamie Hopkins, is an opportunity you may not want to pass up.
When: September 27-29 in Miami, FL
Why: There are a lot of places you can attend if you’re a devotee of a particular software company. As we were compiling our top conferences list, we tried to closely look at the events that go into that upper level and not only deliver great software education but structure an entire agenda that feels like a much larger event.
Year in and year out, Riskalyze puts on a conference that has the production quality, keynote speakers, and scale of events two or three times its size.
If you’re an advisor who’s already a believer in the Riskalyze mission, this event is a no brainer.
When: October 18-21 in New Orleans, LA
Why: FinCon, as you might guess from the name, is all about content. It’s got a heavy tilt toward personal finance topics and personalities, but if you’re an advisor looking to get inspired with sessions and speakers who aren’t just the same rotating list you’ll find at most of the standard industry events, this is the place to be.
When: December 2023 – location TBD
Why: Viewed as the capstone event for the industry each year, the MarketCounsel Summit presents a unique opportunity to attend an invitation-only event where a select number of RIA power players go to wrap things up before the holidays.
As an event that isn’t fully open, the event doesn’t reach astronomical attendance numbers, and it’s all the better for it. Serendipitous moments are common and not having to choose from five breakout sessions at once is a welcome change from the breakneck pace of most conference agendas.
Why: Rounding out our list of conferences hosted by technology companies is AdviceTech.LIVE from the team at Asset-Map.
AdviceTech.LIVE occupies a unique corner in conference land. It’s a virtual event that is one day only, and unlike the other events hosted by tech companies, it isn’t a strict user conference. Instead, its an event focused on panels with practice management tips from industry leaders and it also puts a heavy emphasis on featuring up-and-coming tech tools as well.
The cherry on top is that Asset-Map always selects a charitable benefactor, so you know that your registration dollars are going to the greater good.
Why: The selection of custodian conferences is a little less these days now that TD Ameritrade LINC is no more. And while boutique custodians like TradePMR have impressive events of their own, and LPL Focus is its own beast, the Schwab IMPACT conference is perennially one of the most star-studded events for advisors to attend.
From the sheer number of attendees to the expansive exhibition hall, IMPACT is a little bit like Texas — everything is bigger.
It’s a terrific event to attend if you’re a Schwab advisor, with numerous opportunities for CE credit, discovering the latest support vendors, and meeting with friends and colleagues. (Note: The 2023 registration site is not up yet).
Want to save a little money on your favorite conference? You’ll often find unique discount codes, heads up on which events we’ll be attending, and marketing insights crafted specifically for financial advisors in our weekly newsletter (sign up below!).