Ringside in Vegas, Will #MSUM14 Score a Knockout?

Posted by on

It’s the fastest growing segment of one of the largest industries, if not THE largest industry in the world. More and more players from outside the financial industry are creeping in to see what money is to be made. Tech wizards to self-help coaches to TV anchors turned hedge fund managers — they all want a piece of the action. But, it’s to no surprise that when 500+ of the heaviest hitters in the RIA industry convene in Las Vegas next week for the annual MarketCounsel Summit, that the event will feel like old home week where everyone seems to know their fellow attendees.

In the increasingly fierce competition for top-dog status in the financial industry conference circuit, industry behemoth Schwab scored some serious points with an event in Denver headlined by speeches from Ben Bernanke, former President Bush and a concert headlined by Train. To counter that salvo, MarketCounsel has stacked the deck in Vegas with headliner after headliner. You give me Ben Bernanke and I’ll raise you a Harvey Pitt and an Eliot Spitzer. Take your President Bush and I’ll hit you with a delicious combo of Mark Cuban and Chris Cox.

The sizzle of these headlines might be trumped by the substance the attendees might get when United Capital’s Joe Duran engages with CircleBlack’s John Michel and Betterment’s Jon Stein. The conversation, moderated by Elliot Weissbluth of Hightower, promises to showcase Duran’s points about the power of the bionic advisor versus the staying power of the robo-advisor. The slate includes an afternoon session with Mindy Diamond doing a fireside chat of sorts with Sallie Krawcheck — one of the few times during the agenda where the women’s voice in the industry is given center stage.

It all promises to pack a punch, but here is what I am most looking forward to:

1) How will the future of regulation shape the RIA industry? The assemblage of hitters from the SEC and the industry taking on the topic should certainly give a good glimpse at where the best minds see the fiduciary standard going.

2) Do the robo-advisors, traditional RIAs and the bionic advisors see themselves co-existing or will the conversations here send them going for the jugular of their opponents in the quest for conquering the hearts and wallets of the average American investor? Unlike many of the other firms cast as “roll-ups”, United Capital and their contrarian leader Duran actually want to shape the future of how advice is delivered. Expect a point to be made on the dais.

3) Will any deals get made during the off hours booze and schmooze that makes the conference a real must go? The conversations that can happen when firms of this ilk get in the same room can lead lots of places. Perhaps a year from now, a big merger of two national advisories happens and the origins are traced to conversations happening at the event.

I’ll be looking out for all of the above and live tweeting the action. Follow me at @JoeAnthony on Twitter and the conference hashtag at #MSUM14.