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SALT 2021 Could Change Financial Conferences Forever

A new digital companion says it will help attendees keep the things they learn from going in one ear and out the other.

The next time you’re at a conference, take a look around. Chances are, you’ll see people trying to simultaneously listen to a speaker, scribble notes, e-mail colleagues, and consume a so-so muffin and coffee. Clearly, those attendees want to get the most out of that session — in fact, they may have chosen that particular speaker over another one down the hall presenting at the same time. 

But how much are conference attendees, especially those described above, really getting out of these events? People often say that the most beneficial part of a conference is the opportunity to network and socialize. Perhaps that’s because they don’t remember much of what they learned (and aren’t taking the time to watch what might have been recorded for them).

Enter the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference, known as SALT, and learning platform CAIS IQ, who have created a new partnership designed to change the way conference information is disseminated and absorbed.

This year’s SALT conference began Monday, and attendees are getting free access to the CAIS IQ Center, which marks the first time that anyone who doesn’t use CAIS, the alternative investments platform, will have such access. Once attendees create a CAIS IQ account using their SALT username, they can watch conference speakers and take full CAIS IQ courses — including such topics as “Foundations of Alternative Investments,” “Foundations of Hedge Funds” and “Foundations of Digital Assets” — online. Other articles, white papers, and videos are also available. 

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The center will remain available to SALT attendees after this week’s conference, which will allow them to revisit sessions and complete courses at their own pace. 

But the SALT/CAIS collaboration is just the first of what could be many similar partnerships, CAIS IQ told RIA Intel. The company envisions the IQ Center becoming a sort of companion for a variety of conferences. Much like what CAIS IQ does for courses, the center will leverage education research and machine learning to personalize related content for conference attendees. The company believes that if the information people are learning isn’t as fleeting as it has been in the past, they’ll not only be able to accumulate more knowledge, but they’ll also be more likely to use it in practice.

“We want to create a learning passport for the advisor,” said Andrew Smith Lewis, chief innovation officer at CAIS.

No other conference partnerships have been announced, but Smith Lewis says that helping attendees learn and connect the dots between, say, the Milken Institute’s Global Conference and the World Economic Forum’s summit in Davos, could be invaluable.

In 2019, CAIS hired Smith Lewis, who had a background in education and information retention, to develop learning tools for financial advisors, which is the basis of the CAIS IQ platform. Since then, the platform’s “snackable” courses — helped by some “Netflix magic” in the form of videos, webinars and podcasts — have been shown to help professionals retain knowledge about alternative investments. 

Advisors with the Certified Investment Management Analyst and Certified Financial Planner designations can receive continuing education credits for CAIS IQ courses.

Michael Thrasher (@Mike_Thrasher) is the editor at RIA Intel and based in New York City.

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