Wealth Management Conferences in Flux as Coronavirus Forces Tough Questions

Proceed, postpone or cancel?

(Bigstock photo)

(Bigstock photo)

As American social life grinds to a temporary halt in efforts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, the traditionally full slate of RIA professional conferences has been shrinking. On Friday, two more financial advisor industry conferences notified attendees and exhibitors that their 2020 events would not be held as scheduled.

Trade-PMR announced its Synergy 2020 RIA Conference, originally scheduled for May 6-8 in Orlando, would be postponed, with a new date to be announced. Envestnet announced its Advisor Summit, scheduled for April 29-30 in Austin, would be cancelled. While Advisor Summit will not be rescheduled, Envestnet plans to produce some of the sessions to be shared online.

Making a decision to cancel or postpone an event is difficult: No organizer wants to disappoint attendees or partners, but no organizer wants to host an event that will contribute to the spread of a potentially deadly virus.

To make a decision for its event, Trade-PMR launched an internal task force to continuously monitor the situation, “so that we were able to react quickly to the developments over the past few days,” says Jessica Shores, marketing director at Trade-PMR. “Each year we put our business continuity plan through rigorous testing and refinement. Additionally, we have initiated steps within our offices following local and federal health recommendations.”

Once a decision is made, the next challenge is to communicate it to all stakeholders. Trade-PMR sent out information about the postponed conference to all its advisors on Friday morning and posted an announcement of the postponement on the event website. On Friday afternoon, Shores said the team was in the process of communicating with strategic partners about their plans for the coming days and weeks.

While the public health situation remains fluid and changes are occurring rapidly, a number of RIA industry conferences remain on the docket for the coming months.

The DeVoe M&A +Succession Summit, scheduled for June 25-26 in San Francisco, is still a go. Organizers are continually referring to guidance from local and national health officials, the Four Seasons (which is hosting the event), and the city of San Francisco, and keeping attendees and sponsors informed of any updates, says Stacy Orff, managing director of marketing programs at DeVoe & Company.

“Given the impact of the recent events on RIA M&A and valuations, we believe the content to be delivered at our event is more important than ever,” Orff says. “With the late June timing, there is still time to monitor and thoughtfully assess the evolving situation.”

The Financial Planning Association’s FPA Retreat 2020, is scheduled to proceed as planned on May 4-7 in Cedar Creek, Texas. Organizers say they are continually monitoring the public health situation and will follow the advice of the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Morningstar Investment Conference is still on schedule for June 3-5 in Chicago. The organizer has deployed its business continuity incident management process, and it plans to continue. The team is working with its venue, McCormick Place, to prepare additional sanitary measures and precautions based on recommendations from health authorities.

BNY Mellon is “closely monitoring the situation, but as of now, INSITE 2020 is still on,” says Jennifer Hendricks Sullivan, global head of external communications. Scheduled for June 10-12 in Chicago, INSITE 2020 is sharing suggested safety precautions with its audience, such as washing hands for 20 seconds and using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Organizers of FinCon 2020, scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in Long Beach, Calif., say the conference will take place as planned. With safety as a top priority, they continue to monitor national, state and local government warnings regarding the coronavirus and communicate regularly with the venue, the Long Beach Convention Center.

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