Ever wonder why fund executives flock to mutual fund industry conferences? If you said golf and spa treatments at luxury resorts, you are correct. But if you said to learn about strategies to help their firms better compete and grow, you are also correct.

Conferences can be an efficient and effective way to learn about best practices from the competition and to share your own experiences. Presenters are among the best, most sought-after thought leaders in the industry. Topics range from sales, marketing and distribution, to product development, operations and compliance, and take the form of presentations and panels with interactive discussions and questions from the audience.

The networking that conferences offer is also essential to develop and enhance friendships with your peers. You will see many of the same people at various events, and in the course of attending, you will earn trust and respect in addition to making and receiving introductions that simplify getting to know others.

Reporters who cover the industry for the publications you and your customers read also attend. They want to hear what newsworthy issues are discussed and to meet new sources for future articles.

For those of you who attend these conferences, I look forward to seeing you at the cocktail hour. If you do not usually attend, I would like to take a moment to describe key meetings to consider for 2007.

NICSA Annual Conference, Feb. 18-21, Miami (nicsa.org). For 25 years, members of The National Investment Company Service Association have convened at the NICSA Annual Conference in Florida. The industry's top executives from the U.S. and abroad gather to focus on operational best practices, new products, innovations and more. Attendees will enjoy formal and informal networking opportunities on the legendary links at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa and at NICSA'S vendor expo, as well as lots of 25th anniversary surprises.

NICSA is a not-for-profit trade association providing leadership and innovation in educational programming and information exchange within the operations sector of the worldwide investment industry. NICSA membership totals more than 400 companies operating in major financial centers in the United States, Europe and Asia. The membership represents all segments of the mutual fund industry including mutual fund complexes, investment management companies, custodian banks, transfer agents and independent providers of specialized products and services.

MFEA 2007 Strategic Summit, March 8-9, Las Vegas (mfea.info). This annual event brings together Mutual Fund Education Alliance leaders to discuss the challenges and opportunities in mutual fund marketing and distribution.

MFEA is a national trade association of mutual fund marketers and distributors, bringing together the diverse organizations that serve the industry to help ensure its members stay informed about the latest trends and strategies in mutual fund marketing, sales and distribution. MFEA also serves as a voice for the industry, delivering positive messages to illustrate the importance and value of mutual funds as the long-term investment vehicle of choice

ICI General Membership Meeting, May 9-11, Washington (members.ici.org). This year there is a new look and location. The 49th Annual General Membership Meeting of the Investment Company Institute will be held at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. A preliminary program and registration materials will be available by early spring. Check for regularly updated information.

ICI is the national association of U.S. investment companies. Founded in 1940, its membership includes 8,802 mutual funds, 656 closed-end funds, 287 exchange-traded funds and four sponsors of unit investment trusts. Its mutual fund members serve 93.9 million individual shareholders and manage $10.163 trillion in investor assets. Membership in ICI is available to any SEC-registered investment company, its investment advisor, and its underwriter.

FRC MarkeTrends 2007, date TBD in November, Boston (frcnet.com). MarkeTrends examines in-depth the evolving landscape facing investment product manufacturers and distributors. This year's program will be moderated by Financial Research Corp. experts, along with some of the industry's most dynamic leaders.

FRC provides the knowledge to build stronger relationships through product development and management, distribution solutions and marketing strategies. For nearly 20 years, its insightful research and consulting services have been assisting marketing, product development and strategic planning professionals in the creation of innovative products and services.

(c) 2007 Money Management Executive and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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