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Rating:TD Ameritrade Conference Focuses on Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Thursday, January 31, 2013

TD Ameritrade Conference Focuses on "Breaking Boundaries"

Reported by Tommy Fernandez

The TD Ameritrade National Conference 2013 is in full swing and what a show it's been so far.

The festivities started with ten minutes of breakdancing with six hyper kinectic youngsters all decked out in black shirts, pants, sunglasses with limegreen belts and bow ties as accents robot dancing and strutting to heavy bass techno music.

The highly energetic performance was then followed by presentations by all of TD's C-level brain trust.

Tom Nally, president of TD Institutional, was first.

"It's 8:30 a.m. and we've already broken through our first boundary," he quipped after the dancers finished their performance.

Nally first touched on the history of the conference, now in its 17th year. He remembered back in 1999 when the conference featured only a third of this years record 3,000 plus attendees. Production quality wasn't the same in the conference's infancy, he joked.

Jokes aside, Nally focused much of his discussion to the future of the advisor market and the challenges and opportunities it would face. The opportunities were key as he noted that the independence channel was one of the fastest sectors in financial services, often experiencing three times the rate of growth seen by wirehouses in recent years.

"Your roles as advisors is becoming increasingly more challenging," he said, noting increasing pressures on the part of advisors to differentiate themselves from competitors, address growing regulation concerns, and provide growth in the hyper deflated interest rate environment.

Which was why seizing current opportunities was key. Such areas worth attention going forward included the children of baby boomers, he said. numbering up to 80 million strong, these potential clients stand to see their personal wealth increase from $2 to $28 trillion, plus an additional $18 trillion inherited from their parents.

"This sill determine which models of advice will survive," he said. "You need a solid strategy for attracting younger clients."

He noted that recent surveys have shown that up to 86 percent of young investors would fire their parent's financial help.

"This is a huge opportunity," he said. "We are not here to scare you."

Reaching out to these increasingly important demographic includes embracing social media and all its related technologies and hiring and nurturing junior talent. He said is as he announced a variety of scholarships and other initiatives directed at encouraging the education of younger financial planners in school and just out of school. This generated cheers from the 30 plus youth volunteers participating in the event and sitting in the middle of the auditorium.

Such initiatives were key, he said, because the industry is expected to grow 30 percent over the next few years, but currently only six percent of the staff in the sector is under 30.

Women also represent the next big opportunity for advisors with women assets expected to grow from 8 trillion to 20 trillion roughly in the next decade. As more women gain a primary role in household finance decisions and serve as primary breadwinners, they represent a major force to be reckoned with by advisors. Nally noted that recent surveys indicate that roughly two thirds of women polled would fire their current advisors should their spouses die.

"Listen to her," Nally said of women clients in general.

Soon after Nally's presentation, four top level executives, including chief executive Fred Tomzyck, retail head Tom Bradley and chief operating officer Marvin Adams in a panel discussion with CNBC anchor Amanda Drury. Nally rounded out the four executives in the discussion.

During these proceedings, TD's leadership announced a number of goodies aimed at advisors, including free access to the company's iRebal function on TD's VEO platform.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice soon followed with a candid hardhitting talk on the challenges the U.S faced in a world hardened by such shocks as the September 11th attacks, the 2008 Financial Crisis and the variety of revolutions roiling countries around the globe.

She talked about the potential competitors to America's economic prowess in the coming years, and their vulnerabilities. For example, for all of its growth, she said Russia is heavily reliant on what can be dug out of the ground, including oil and gas and minerals. She noted a discussion with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on the subject in 2007. He had said at the time that everything in the ground would be devoted to the benefit of Mother Russia, but that the government would look to buy technology from US energy producers. Rice, a former director of Chevron, said that American producers wouldn't sell their tech to make other countries better competitors. Putin asked whether she was still a director in the company.

"I'm Secretary of State," she had noted, highlighting divisions between corporations and government in the US, which still doesn't exist in Russia.

Other competitors, including China, were discussed. She said China will not achieve its full potential as an economic power until it embraced the Internet and processes that allow individuals to reach their full creative potential as well.

In fact, Rice had said that the only competitor to US leadership was a bad US, one that didn't address its own debt and fiscal issues, didn't invest in education or ensure that individuals in this country continued to reach their full innovative, risk-taking and creative potential.

She said she was an optimist and was confident that the US would.  

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