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Which RIA Conference Is Right for Me?

June 08, 2022 |

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With COVID lockdowns and restrictions now in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to get back to in-person events. While some conferences attempted to adapt by switching to a purely digital format during the pandemic, which was helpful, it just wasn’t the same.

A recent survey of 1,000 conference participants around the US found that 70% prefer to attend conferences in person rather than virtually.

The best networking usually happens in person since body language and subtle communication cues don’t come across as well over Zoom.  With any video conferencing software, interactions are planned and structured, removing the possibility of those chance encounters with other attendees that can bring real value to your business.

So, which are the best conferences for RIAs to attend in 2022? We’ve taken some time to review the various events scheduled to return in person this year. With travel costs up sharply, the last thing you want to do is find yourself at a poorly managed event.

In the next article, we recommend our top conference-musts for RIAs based on reviews from several sources to make our picks and we looked at speaker selection, venue, and overall execution. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to make the best choices to advance your RIA goals.

Will people come back?

That’s the million-dollar question. There is still a lot of COVID anxiety, even amongst vaccinated people. However, private events are free to require that their attendees show proof of vaccination, which many do. Organizers are also taking steps to prevent the spread through mitigation measures like disinfection or holding events in locations with improved air filtration systems.

But it’s too early to say whether this will be enough. T3 had more than 1,000 attendees and a record number of exhibitors, its largest show yet. However, the long-running Envestnet conference, which had 3,000+ attendees at its last pre-pandemic show in 2019, attracted only a third of that this year (in fairness, T3 usually is very early in the year, so there were two large RIA conferences in two weeks).

What’s likely to happen is conferences earlier in the year are likely to be more sparsely attended over covid fears as the world gets used to in-person events and rising travel costs. Also, this year’s calendar is front-loaded as events usually held at the beginning of the year happen later.

Our advice is to make the trip if you’re comfortable, as smaller crowds might work to your advantage at some of these events.

Types of RIA conferences

RIA conferences fall into the following categories. We’ve also included some advantages and disadvantages of each type of event.

  • Community networking: These events are a chance to meet up with other advisors and primarily focus on networking. Community events are perfect for new RIAs to get their name out there. While great for building connections, they often don’t have extensive programming, if at all.
  • Current events updates:It’s essential to understand how global events might affect your business. These events often focus their programming around a central topic (i.e., COVID-19, crypto, etc.). That’s valuable if your RIA has exposure to that particular event, but other conferences will offer more value to you as a new RIA.
  • In-depth learning: Some events focus less on networking and lean heavily into education. You’ll likely have a packed schedule of in-depth seminars and possibly certification at the end. These are great for getting up to speed on a topic in short order, but the fast pace of these sessions is not for everyone.

Conferences are often sponsored by one of four groups:

  • Industry association sponsored: As a new RIA, these events are the best to go to as they focus on industry professionals and are typically the largest. Networking opportunities will also be the best here.
  • Media sponsored: Much like industry association events, However, as a press sponsored event, exhibitors here are more looking to connect with the press (since they’re typically open to the media at large). You’re more likely to meet leadership at an industry association conference, as these companies usually send the PR team to media events.
  • Custodian sponsored: As the name suggests, these conferences cover everything you’ll need to know about compliance and custodial relationships. However, since they’re so narrowly focused, you may prefer a more general conference.
  • Tech vendor sponsored: Firms with a significant presence in the RIA industry are big enough to hold events solely focused on their products. These events also typically include an in-depth learning component and opportunities to meet face-to-face with those at the vendor.

Which RIA conference is best for me to attend?

You’ll get the most value out of money spent, and knowledge learned from attending industry-associated sponsored conferences and local community networking events if you’re just starting. An industry conference exposes you to various firms and services focused on serving RIAs and often includes breakout sessions to dive deeper into specific subjects.

However, those with more experience might find the other three conference types helpful. Custodian conferences are a must-attend to stay on top of changing compliance trends and requirements. Established firms who’ve settled on the platforms and software will find tech vendor conferences extremely useful.

While media-sponsored conferences focus more on PR than B2B relationships, they allow networking with the media, which may be helpful later as you grow and look for exposure.

Should my employees attend?

Of course, it’s not feasible to send your entire team. However, attending a show by yourself isn’t smart either. Even small events can be challenging to cover on your own, so we recommend sending several employees and yourself to cover more ground.

There might even be some conferences where you choose to stay behind. For example, having an extra compliance team member attend a custodian conference instead of yourself makes sense. With so many conferences happening this year, there will be plenty of other events for you to attend.

Stay tuned for our next article which explores the conferences we think are the best to attend in 2022.


The Shoestring RIA is a series of articles written and published by the BillFinTM team at Redi2 Technologies designed to help RIAs as they start out on their own. We recognize just how challenging it is to venture out and build a successful business. Our articles will be focused on helping these new businesses with a wide range of topics.