It’s a tricky act, being both big and personal. But organizers of LPL’s 23rd annual conference are aiming to strike this balance, according to one of its organizers.

The company expects about 5,400 attendees to attend the gathering, slated for Aug. 18-21 at the San Diego Convention Center, and organized around the theme, “making a difference.”

“The conference is really grand, but ... I want it to feel personal, so [advisors] walk away with a personal connection to all of us” at the LPL home office, says James Riela, LPL’s senior vice president of conference services. Riela says LPL expects about 3,000 advisors to attend this year, along with their staff members; that turnout would be the highest in the history of the annual event.

CONTENT ONLINE

For this first time this year, Riela says, LPL plans to share selected videos of conference content with any of the 13,300 advisors and their staff who are unable to attend in person.

Edited online videos are set to include keynote addresses from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, “virtual” composer Eric Whitacre and Zanny Minton-Beddoes, economics editor for The Economist. Several dozen other sessions are set to be made available as well, although the online video library won't include all of the 250-plus breakout sessions. (Many of the sessions that are highly interactive with live audiences won’t translate easily to video, Riela says.)

“It’s always been a very successful conference,” Riela says. “We are now maximizing this opportunity by sharing it more broadly not only with people who attended but people back at the offices who are keeping the businesses running.”

'PARTY' FOR THOUSANDS

Riela says he grew up on a California street near an Italian vineyard, where most of the other homes were occupied by his relatives --17 families in all. His grandmother cooked weekly Sunday dinners for about 100 and, every Christmas, for 500.

“I think that is where I must have gotten the confidence” to oversee a “party” for thousands, Riela says with a laugh. “It’s like being at my grandmother’s for lasagna and sharing the love.”

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