Highlights from the LPL Financial National Conference
The Prosperion Financial team readied our out-of-office replies last week and headed off to sunny San Diego for the LPL Financial National Conference. We weren’t alone. With close to 12,000 independent financial advisors from around the country, LPL Financial managed to draw a crowd of 2600 advisors and 1500 attendees from money management organizations, research groups and others within the company.
The topics were numerous and the time limited, so we spread out with each advisor picking his schedule. It felt like college again, hustling from one presentation to another in a huge, unfamiliar conference center. Eventually we all made it to one of the best speakers of the conference, James Cameron.
This is the same James Cameron who directed The Titanic, The Terminator, and most recently Avatar. For those keeping score, that’s number one (Avatar) and two (Titanic) on the highest all-time box office grossing movies. (And he’s got two sequels to Avatar in the works.)
He is a unique blend of film maker/artist and scientist/ explorer, having recently completed the building of a vessel that traveled to the sea floor deeper than anyone has ever gone before, over 11,000 meters (6.8 miles) and spent 2 hours and 40 minutes on the sea bed. This was in a “free swimming” 24’ vehicle – no cables etc. that actually shrunk by 3” when under pressure! His team photographed various life forms including a jellyfish that crawled along the bottom instead of swimming as expected.
At the conference he hammered on his primary point: sometimes it’s riskier not to take a risk! Each of his movies was a huge undertaking in both cost and time, but ultimately worthwhile he said. He encouraged teamwork, recognizing what can be accomplished when people come together. While filming movies he had been so focused on the end product that consideration of the team was secondary. After the major project of building a vessel to withstand the tremendous pressure of the deep ocean, he has a new respect for teams and what they can accomplish.
He also stressed communication and transparency as keys to successful team work which leads to trust and respect. At one point he talked about thinking through disaster scenarios and anticipating the problems when it comes to dramatic scenes in his movies. He strives to understand the risks and convey to his team, “this is how we make it safe.” If there is a failure, he wants to learn from it in an effort to not repeat it. He believes in the voice of experience, judgment and instinct within each of us. He likes to mix out-of-the-box thinkers with those that are not and remain flexible when it’s necessary to implement immediate change.
Beyond Cameron, there were updates on the markets highlighting some of today’s headline risks: European leaders dealing with Greece, Spanish bank concerns, a German court ruling on their involvement in the bailouts and our Federal Reserve meeting soon in Jackson Hole to determine if more stimulus might be needed to spur on the economy. Though the markets have had less volatility during these dog days of summer we expect more volatility in the weeks to come as Europe comes off holiday. There was mention of the significant energy development we are witnessing in the US that could prompt manufacturers to relocate factories to the U.S. to take advantage of the abundant, low cost natural gas.
We also learned about new tools to organize the financial life of a client as they plan for retirement. One example: to view your accounts, there will be a new “Account View” coming soon with I-Phone, I-Pad and Android apps for your mobile devices. We also heard about investment techniques and new offerings to deal with our slow-growth environment.
Of course the upcoming US election was discussed – generally at this point considered too close to call. A quote from Winston Churchill that has been adapted to our politics drew a laugh: “The U.S. will do the right thing after exhausting all other alternatives!”
Another interesting speaker was the creative director for Cirque du Soleil, Lyn Heward. Her key takeaways were to create a nurturing stimulating environment that allows for lots of collaboration. She encouraged us all to trust one another with ideas and ownership of the end product and to remember that constraints can become a catalyst to creativity and culture differences an asset to the end product.
There was a lot to learn and digest at the conference. To our benefit, we had five advisors in attendance. So I think we’ll walk away with a lot more information than other solo advisors. That’s what we’re all about! Being collegial and collaborative to give our clients the absolute best service. If you’d like to hear more about the conference, don’t hesitate to get in touch with any one of us!
Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC