If you were not able to make it to the Financial Planning Association's Denver conference, here's one take away: advisors are still overwhelmingly bullish -- that's if you consider a bulls vs. bears giveaway by UMB Scout Funds
to be an accurate poll.
By the end of the conference, the fund firm still had mess of small squishy bears left on its exhibit stand and a full box hidden away. Just one remained bull (which was promptly taken by an advisor).
Meanwhile, SEI Investments
and Commonwealth Financial
took a different route with giveaways. Instead of IPod raffles and pens, they lured advisors with a basic altitude-headache fighting necessity -- water. SEI and Commonwealth gave away bottled water and Nalgene water bottles, respectively. Other exhibitors wisely set up water coolers in their booths.
The water was a helpful distraction from the flashing bike lights that advisors sported on their nametag holders. Blame the FPA -- the hearts were part of the organization's campaign to symbolize the planner's role in fulfilling the intersection of need, support and delivery.
Some were taking more extreme measures: two New York wholesalers said that they enjoyed a rousing round of drinks with their dinner the previous night -- of ice water.
Altitude-headaches abounded, but some found relief at Financial Advisor's
party at the Hard Rock Café. It was the only relatively quiet bar in the city, remarked one exhibitor. (The party was the same night as the Denver
Bronco's opening game). A large flat-screen played the game, but thankfully on mute. The lack of noise was made up for by the party-goers, who were cheery by stayed away from the hamburger and cheese stick buffett.
Speaking of the Broncos, as of Monday, the stadium still had "Invesco Field at Mile High" emblazoned on the front. Two advisors asked this reporter: "What's happening with Invesco?"
How many advisors were thinking the same? And who else was wondering why there were so many Austrailian advisors at the conference? And what was with the little koala bears were placed strategically throughout the exhibition hall...
Turns out that Australia was first place from where non-U.S. advisors could earn a CFP designation. Go figure. One Australian advisor had a different reason: he was simply there to earn a tax-free trip to see his son later in the week in Chicago.
On another tax-related note, we were the only ones that noticed how many mortgage-related companies were exhibiting at the conference? One exhibitor speculated that the popularity of reverse mortgages played a part.
Playing a part in a screenplay by a Thornburg Mortgage executive: Pierce Brosnan.
Those seeking a quiet place to eat a hard fought for ham and egg breakfast sandwich could have set up shop in the Safeco Mutual Funds booth, which had nary a pen, brochure or wholesaler in sight.
The Safeco Mutual Funds booth echoed the scene in the exhibition hall around Monday evening. Around 7pm, we were hard-pressed to spot many navy-necklaced advisors in the exhibition hall. Wholesalers and the college-age FPA staff also seemed to notice, taking the opportunity to relax, chat and enjoy themselves before packing up their booths.
Afterwards: buses shuttled everyone out of the unfinished, glass and steel conference center, past a steel skeleton of a new high-rise hotel, and back to their hotels.
See you next year in San Diego!
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