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Financial Advice

Future Proof: Will the ‘Wealth Festival’ Live Up to the Hype?

Amid the music and wine tastings, promising panels offer insights into ESG, proxy voting, direct indexing, and more.

The Future Proof conference, which runs Sept. 11 to Sept. 14 in Huntington Beach, California, promises to be “the world’s first wealth festival” and an experience like none other. I am looking forward to attending, but I’m not sure if the experience will truly be as spectacular as advertised. What will make it better than the Schwab IMPACT conference, for example?

On the surface, there are a few obvious differentiators:

  • The conference is entirely outside, taking an entire strip of the beach.
  • Speakers are not “paying to play.”
  • There will be many nonfinancial offerings: food and wine tastings, art exhibits, health and wellness experiences, and musical performances.
  • The event will be structured similarly to a music festival, with various stages hosting speakers concurrently.

I talked to Matt Middleton, co-founder and CEO of Advisor Circle (sponsor of Future Proof). He and his team looked at conference structures from an event-planning perspective and considered the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the emerging younger generations of advisors and clients, and a desire to create a truly immersive experience that will “propel the industry.”

As financial advice must consider all aspects of clients’ lives, Middleton believes that the focus of financial conferences needs to move beyond investments and technology toward a connected “ecosystem” that brings together both investment management and the macro environment. According to Middleton, “We’ve expanded the core audience to include advisors, institutional investors, data companies, etc., to provide education on the four pillars: investing, technology, culture, and impact.” It’s the latter two pillars, combined with an enhanced ability to network, that Middleton thinks will be most beneficial to participants and the industry at large.

Some conference high points, according to Middleton, include: the Tuesday evening concert headlined by Fitz and the Tantrums, four stages with top speakers including over 100 CEOs, the “Market Monday” show being recorded live, and the opportunity to experience community and connection. His advice to participants? “Be yourself; be open. Broaden your focus beyond who’s in the industry. Let your guard down to enjoy experiences and develop more and deeper connections.”

I’m open! I’ve already earmarked several sessions related to ESG, direct indexing, proxy voting, and more:

  • The Misalignment of Values and Investing—The Real ESG Challenge
  • The Other Side of Money: A Conversation With Jean Edelman
  • The Hot Seat: 10 Burning Questions With Daniel Needham
  • The New Kid on the Block … Or Are They? A Direct Indexing Conversation
  • Humanomics: Where Money Meets Meaning
  • Get Out and Vote: The Future of Proxy Voting
  • Building the Advisory Practice You Want

Based on Middleton’s insights, I will also leave room for flexibility. Whether the experience rises above that of other conferences, I’m eager to find out.

The author or authors do not own shares in any securities mentioned in this article. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.

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