Industry events provide a unique opportunity for professionals to come together in one place to network, share ideas and have a good hard think about potential solutions to today’s toughest industry issues. They are also a place for companies to learn more about the latest developments and increase their brand visibility. And, with media in attendance, they are a prime opportunity for event organizers, sponsors, and attendees to get their messages out into the marketplace. Whether it involved technology, compliance, lobbying or innovation, there was plenty to talk about at this year’s Financial Services Institute (FSI) Conference. And for independent broker-dealers and advisers in particular, one message came across loud and clear: ‘yes, we will’. This is the affirmative and ambitious campaign slogan presented at the OneVoice annual conference, which took place in January in Washington’s sunny San Diego and was arranged by the lobbying organization of the same name. OneVoice used the FSI Conference as a platform to reiterate its lobbying successes over the past year (such as protecting 12b-1 fees) and to highlight some of the key issues it will be championing this year. Regulation, technology, and the use of social media emerged as key areas of concern for independent broker-dealers, with advisers unsure of how to effectively use social media to support their businesses and broker-dealers struggling as far as interpreting and adapting to increasingly strict regulations. Meanwhile, technology spend was identified as a definite priority for both advisers and broker-dealers in 2013. With the TechLeaders Conference due to be held 13-15 March in Irving, Texas, we expect similar industry-moving announcements to be made, with the dialogue providing a better indication of what is next for financial technology in the broker-dealer industry. ‘Do-it-yourself’ (DIY) technologies appear to be a trend, and with regulatory pressure driving further technology change, new approaches to pushing straight through processing seem likely. But with custodians and large broker-dealers leading the technology charge, the topic de jour remains anyone’s guess. One thing’s for certain, however. And that’s the importance of not just attending events but having something to say, and knowing how to say it. When working with clients at a conference – whether they are in financial services, BtoB technology or energy – the first things we ask them is: what do you want to say, why, and how will it have an impact on the industry? In the financial services space, there is growing consensus that the time is right to regroup, rethink, and reclaim the industry, but as the FSI has served to remind us, the best way to do so is ‘with one voice’.
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