NICSA 2013: Focus on Distribution, Operations - And Wider Audience

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NICSA's 31st Annual Conference and Expo will have a keen focus on distribution and operational issues, according to president Theresa Hamacher.

And a wider audience. "We've been increasing our outreach to the broker/dealer community because we understand that money management doesn't stop with managers and investors," she said.

As evidence of its outreach to broker-dealers, the conference, which is expected to draw about 450 attendees, will include a roundtable session dubbed: "Why Dealers Do What They Do."

The discussion will be moderated by Neil Bathon, Managing Partner, Fuse Research Network, and include Greg Dosmann, principal partner of marketing and education savings for Edward JonesJames Langham, Head of Mutual Funds and Money Market Funds at UBSSandra Motusesky, Director of Investment Solutions at Pershing and Peter Thatch, Head of U.S. Funds for Global Wealth Management, Merrill Lynch & Co.

The panel will discuss how each firm navigates tumultuous markets.

"What you're seeing more from us is that we're not just a mutual fund association (i.e. investment product)," said Hamacher.

NICSA currently counts some 164 members, which is down from a few years ago because of industry consolidations, according to Michele Liston, Deputy Executive Director, NICSA.

The conference will also include a session on omnibus accounting dubbed "Omnibus: A Governance and Risk Perspective," which is moderated by Tim O'Sullivan, Director at Deloitte, and include panelists Laura Born, trustee of the Columbia Acorn Trust and the Wanger Advisors Trust; Mike Roland, executive vice president at ING Funds and Brendan Sullivan, Director at Pershing.

The session is being billed as one that will delve into issues that are driving board discussions and pushing challenges out to mutual fund executives.

Also on the agenda is a session on social media, which will focus on how managers and advisors can use social media to build brand awareness and mine for prospective clients. The panel will includeShayna Beck, associate counsel at VanguardMisty Ford, Director, eBusiness at Russell Investments and Doug Preston, senior vice president at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch.

A new addition to this year's confab are product showcase sessions, which are 45-minute demonstrations featuring the latest in products and services from one of NICSA's exhibitors and/or sponsors. Attendees will also notice another new wrinkle to the conference: No printed programs will be handed. Instead, attendees can access the program digitally via apps on their smart phones.

"Everybody has a smart phone and everyone prefers to use them. This shows a commitment to where we are as an organization," said Hamacher.

This year's featured keynote speakers include: Carla Harris, head of the Emerging Manager Platform at Morgan Stanley & Company, the infamous "Voice of the White House," Ari Fleischer, media consultant and former White House press secretary under U.S. President George W. Bush, and Daniel Burrus, a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies.

"The keynote speakers are a critical component of the NICSA Annual Conference, and we feel that this lineup gives attendees a tremendous opportunity for new information on critical topics that are important to all of us - both personally and professionally." according to conference co-chairsKaran McClimans, vice president, T. Rowe Price, and Jim Nolan, managing director, Fund Services, Citigroup.

This year marks NICSA's 31st and final year hosting its annual conference at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami. But the provider of independent education and networking forums to the global investment management community isn't planning on leaving the Sunshine State entirely.

Hamacher simply said it was "time for a change" in venue. Next year's event will be held at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, Florida.

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