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Conference Season in Chicago – Fi360 Conference

Chicago Skyline 2008

Last week I wrote about the start of the financial conference season here in Chicago. This week I wanted to share my thoughts about one of those conferences, the Fi360 Conference.

Fi360 is based in Pittsburgh and offers the Accredited Investment Fiduciary and the Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst designations. The training behind both designations enhances the knowledge of advisors working with qualified retirement plans, high net worth individuals, as well as foundations and endowments.

In addition, Fi360 offers their Toolkit software which provides a concise, easy to understand, yet powerful means to screen and evaluate mutual funds, ETFs, and other investment vehicles. I have used the Toolkit for many years and consider it an essential part of the analysis that I do across my client base.

Naturally I was excited when I heard their annual conference would be coming to Chicago. The conference was held Thursday and Friday of last week.

There were many excellent sessions including:

Author Justin Fox discussed The Myth of The Rational Market. Fox provided an excellent historical perspective on rational markets and market thinking over the past century.

Dave Gray of Schwab discussed a Schwab survey highlighting the gaps in perception surrounding retirement plans between plan sponsors and plan participants. The gaps between the two stakeholder groups was in some cases mind boggling. This was a great session for anyone providing advice to a qualified retirement plan.

On Friday morning noted historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin discussed here best-selling book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Her insights were both humorous and at times  very telling in terms of the political divide we see today in Washington. In between the lines are many leadership lessons across business and finance.

There was an excellent session by a panel that included well-known ERISA attorney Jason Roberts that discussed some of the practical aspect of becoming a 3 (38) advisor to retirement plan sponsors. This is certainly one of the hot issues in the ever changing retirement plan advice landscape.

Fred Reish, a preeminent ERISA attorney, discussed the issue of benchmarking in light of the new 408(b)(2) disclosures required of 401(k) sponsors later this year. Fred did a great job of discussing things advisors should consider in this new environment.

Liza Horvath, a Trust Manager from California, provided some great insights into drafting and implementing investment policies for non-profit endowments.

Besides these and other great sessions, the folks who provide phone support to us Toolkit users were on hand to demonstrate tips for using the product and to answer several of my questions in person. It was great to meet these folks in person and place a face with a voice.

Mostly, though, it was great to attend a conference with some 650 other advisors and service providers who share my passion for what the term Fiduciary stands for. A lot of credit for the raised awareness of the role of the fiduciary must go to the folks at Fi360. From their training connected with the two designations mentioned above, to their publications, to their Toolkit software Fi360 provides advisors with the tools to serve our clients in a fiduciary manner. The conference was a great way to see all of this in one place.

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