While Tuesday was all business at Schwab IMPACT 2018, with Janet Yellen talking interest rates and GDP growth, Wednesday took a lighter turn. Closing speakers Jose Andres and Padma Lakswhmi were featured in a keynote address called "Saving The World Through Food."
Andres is the most popular chef/author in the world right now, in part due to his massive humanitarian efforts to feed the people of Puerto Rico during the massive September 2017 hurricane. His lighthearted dialogue with the audience belied a commitment to bypass typical Wolfgang Puck-style fame-for-fame's sake and focus on feeding as many people as possible in times of calamity.
His message was clear, that advisors who want to truly make an impact that goes beyond their sheltered world need to help, as he does, when they feel least like getting up off the living room couch. He wasn't preachy, but is truly a leader who sets the tone of the discussion by his past actions and his ability lead by example.
I am not sure why chef/supermodel Padma was even on the same stage; she added nothing. After Schwab's Tuesday night extravaganza at Union Station, the schedulers who set up Wednesday's education sessions truly knew what they were doing, saving the most entertaining speakers for a hung over Wednesday morning crowd. The best was Tim Mauer, who talked about The Narrative Imperative: Understanding Your Story To Help Clients Find Theirs. Maurer is an advisor, speaker and author who believes that regardless of our income or net worth, our underlying values and goals drive our behavior with money, which ultimately determines our satisfaction in work and life. I would encourage everyone who invests or is thinking of becoming a professional investor either to make it a point to see him speak, or to go to his website and sign up for his weekly email.
The other excellent session that advisors flocked to was Playing to your Strengths: How Niche Marketing Can Help You Win More Business. Colony Group speakers Jennifer Geoghegan and Lisa Poff discussed how advisors who can find and exploit a niche in the market (doctors/dentists, lawyers, divorced women) will find that they will spend less on marketing and receive more referrals if they can become well known in just one niche of the market.
The absolute best session of IMPACT 2018 was Maribeth Kuzmeski's Marketing Magnetism: Immediate Strategies for Differentiating Your Practice and Winning New Business. Kuzmeski is long-time contributor to Schwab's IMPACT conferences, and her message is timeless. Most advisors are 'grey suits against a grey wall,' and Kuzmeskis' Red Zone Marketing is designed to help them stand out. She urges advisors to make sure they have a memorable story to tell, and to budget and plan so that they can reach the biggest possible audience, be it in print, on radio or by going viral via social media.
These four session were a cross-section of the dozens offered by Schwab to advisors covering such diverse topics as practice management, emerging technology, cyber security to politics, policy and the economy. In addition, Schwab introduced a 'technology alley' on the flood of the convention center that showcased the latest in high tech tools that help advisors better run and protect their investment practices. IMPACT 2019 will be held in San Diego, California. If you are a professional investment advisor/financial planner or dream of being one, the trip to the annual Schwab show is a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes, with everybody who is anybody in the managed money business in attendance.