The focus will be on the future - and the industry's rapid pace of change - at NAPFA's upcoming fall conference.

"We want to focus on what advisors can do to prepare for the next generation or two," says the association's new chair, Robert Gerstemeier, president of Loveland, Ohio-based Gerstemeier Financial Group.

The conference, "Evolution Now: Adopting and Thriving in a Changing Environment 2015 and Beyond" will highlight new and fast changing developments in public policy, technology and practice management says NAPFA chief executive Geoff Brown.  It will be held from October 21 to October 24 in Charlotte, N.C.

The ongoing debate about the future of the fiduciary standard remains perhaps the most controversial public policy debate, and the issue will be scrutinized at a panel session moderated by Knut Rostad, founder and president of the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard. Skip Schweiss, TD Ameritrade managing director, Financial Planning columnist BobVeres, publisher of Inside Information and William Prewitt, founder of Charleston Financial Advisors will be on the panel.

The Institute, which has partnered with NAPFA to promote fiduciary best practices, just published a white paper highlighting what it terms the "stark" differences between brokerage practices and true fiduciary best practices. 


The emergence of online advisory firms, or so-called 'robo-advisors,' will also be a top-of-mind issue for NAPFA members, according to Gerstemeier.

Advisors are grappling with how to deal with the impact of the digital-only firms, Gerstemeier says.

"Some say advisors should be using robos themselves for certain functions and focus on client interaction," he says. "One change we're seeing is advisors outsourcing investment management and focusing on client relationships, which digital services can't offer. The need to interact and connect with a client one-on-one won't change."

Brown invoked the travel industry and framed the competition between digital and traditional advisors as one of transactional services versus an ongoing relationship. "I love Expedia," he says. "but there's no Bob Gerstemeier I can talk to at Expedia."

The long-term emphasis of the conference will also be underscored by its "Looking Ahead" keynote panel featuring TD Ameritrade president Tom Nally and Bernie Clark, head of advisor services at Charles Schwab.

In addition NAPFA itself will be making a change next year, moving to Chicago from its current headquarters in Arlington Heights, Ill.

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