The inaugural Wealth/Stack conference held in Scottsdale, Arizona, earlier this month represented one of the most anticipated financial services conferences of the year. There was a clear need for a conference geared specifically toward advisors, and the Ritholtz Wealth Management and Inside ETFs teams delivered. Conference organizers expected around 400 attendees for the event but over 700 people sold out the show, with about 70% advisor attendance. Multiple sessions drew standing-room-only crowds and I think it was because the conference truly exemplified its tagline: “By advisors. For advisors,” especially advisors who understood that the industry was looking for a fresh perspective with engaging, insightful and dynamic panels and speakers.
Within a male-dominated financial services profession, the event was also highlighted by some all-star female panelists and speakers who dominated the stage as well as the conference floor. We reached out to a number of the women at Wealth/Stack to hear their top takeaways from the conference:
Perth Tolle, Life + Liberty Indexes
“The thing that stood out to me was the caliber of advisors and the conversations they’re having with their clients about the purpose and intention of their money as an integral part of the planning process. Having been an advisor myself, I know that this is a level you don’t get to with every client; but if you do, your insight into their drivers and their engagement with you reaches a whole new level. One other thing: It was like a giant ‘fintwit’ meet up. As much as we engage on Twitter, there’s no replacement for getting to know someone in person.”
Dina Isola, Ritholtz Wealth Management
“What impressed me most about Wealth/Stack was the energy and excitement the attendees brought to the conference. There is a true sense of collaboration in this space, with the end goal of serving clients better, delivering true fiduciary advice and elevating industry standards (whether those are better investor protections or continuing education requirements for advisors). One thing was clear: They want to do right by their clients and learn to do it better. I’m proud to be associated with this group of true financial professionals.”
Suzanne Lundeen Abrams, Lundeen Abrams Advisors
“First of all, I was excited to meet all my Twitter friends and that was 100% satisfying! I didn’t get enough time with them, so there’s room for a follow-up for sure. Thankfully, we all exchanged contact info and can connect beyond Twitter now. I appreciated the attention given to putting top-notch women on stage. I also appreciated the registration discount given to women in light of the gender gap. It’s not an easy business for a woman and I honestly am always struggling to maintain composure with all the hits I take. I believe women are so needed to serve the changing demographics of our customers. The industry needs to support women to help attract them to the business and help keep them in the business.”
Shannon Spotswood, RFG Advisory
“It was a distinctly different energy in terms of the panelists, the composition of the panels and the topics. It was great to have so many young advisors in attendance showcasing the forward-looking level of the industry. It was so exciting to have the female advisor network breakfast on Monday and the launch of that group. It’s something that’s been missing in the industry and is hugely important. I’m excited for Nina O’Neal to take that on and have that as a resource moving forward — it’s nice to have a sisterhood of advisors to turn to. I loved the social media panel: two African American guys, a young successful female and two other progessive advisors on the panel made for a refreshing take. And I thought the venture capital panel was excellent, giving a different perspective on fintech and the important role of the distribution tech in the retail wealth management industry.”
From my perspective, having attended conferences over the years that ranged from advisor-focused to tech-focused, the content was top notch on all points of the spectrum. I really enjoyed sitting in sessions throughout the day and hearing new perspectives from across the industry. One session that surprised me was “An Economist Walks Into a Brothel …” featuring Allison Schrager being interviewed by Blair duQuesnay from Ritholtz. I didn’t know what to expect, but Schrager’s evaluation of risk through different “risky” professions was very enlightening — not only from a financial planning and investing perspective, but for taking risks in any facet of life. After such a great inaugural event, I’m now really looking forward to Wealth/Stack 2020!