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XYPN17 – Financial Planning’s “Un-Conferency” Conference

By: David C. Bowman, CFP®

Recently in Dallas, TX, we hosted our very first live event for financial planners – but not just any financial planners. The professionals we coached and worked with throughout the day are a rare but growing breed breaking the mold and shaping the planning profession’s future. But we can’t take credit for attracting such an all-star group. The credit for this full day pre-conference session goes to XYPN17, the XY Planning Network’s 3rd annual gathering.

If you haven’t heard of XY Planning Network yet, you may want to tune in. The membership network of fee-only financial planners serving Gen X and Gen Y clients has grown its ranks to over 480 progressive and disruptive professionals across the country in just over three years.

And somebody must want to work with those planners, because the “Find An Advisor” function on XYPN’s website had 30,000 unique visitors in the past year. Not bad for a group who’s core mission is to do what many traditional firm owners have long considered impossible – detach fee structures from assets under management and profitably bring financial planning advice to young people for a transparent fee.

XYPN bills their annual event as “The Unconferency Conference.” That’s an apt description. The fresh approach is in response to the prevalent financial advisory industry conferences that haven’t given young and progressive advisors a seat at the table. With XYPN17, the experience is tailored to the unconventional and trend-setting tribe of planners creating service models and practices that speak to their accumulator, tech-friendly clients.

So, what does an “unconferency” conference look like? First, it’s accessible. A growing list of sponsors, many of which are relatively new FinTech market entrants, make possible the 2 ½ days at less than $500 per person – less than $300 for XYPN members.

Picture 500 entrepreneurial planners with an average age somewhere around 35, most wearing t-shirts and jeans. They’ve made the pilgrimage from all corners of the country and some from overseas.

The energy is alive. Passion for growing something awesome is basically a prerequisite and the community is in constant contact year-round online so there’s the feel of a family reunion…if you could choose your family.

Essential session topics you might expect are mixed evenly with less conventional ones like “niche marketing in year one” and “stop seeking work/life balance – find work/life happiness.” There are zero economic market updates.

A buzzing exhibit hall is surprisingly well attended with planners seeking solutions crafted to fit the business models of tomorrow like Snappy Kraken, a bundled and automated digital marketing platform, and CSLA Technology showcasing student-loan analysis software.

Live software demos rotate throughout the day in the exhibitor hall and roundtables outside host facilitated conversations on topics like “Women in Finance” and “Podcasting to Attract Clients.” Of course, there is an iPhone and Android app to help you navigate the conference, engage with other attendees, vote for best FinTech and vendor swag, and get connected with exhibitors.

But what really stood out to us the most in Dallas were the people – the energy in every room. Everyone knows they are a part of something exciting. Many expressed to us they felt like they’d found “their people.” Closing speaker, Mitch Anthony, hit the nail on the head. He started by pointing out the EQ, or emotional intelligence, among those in attendance was off the charts.

These are the super-engaged and thoughtful planners of today and tomorrow who are as excited to see the profession growing in the right direction as they are their own businesses. This community welcomes change. They take time on and off the agenda to cultivate diversity in financial planning by discussing obstacles for women and people of color in our profession.

At Capstone College Partners, we coach an abundance mentality. Our road map for building a highly profitable practice you love in five years includes the assumption that 90% of the people you help will never become clients or pay you a cent. “Advisors” focused mainly on gathering assets or closely tracking their close ratios may not be a great a fit for that model. We want to support people who instinctively see that kind of community impact as a welcome bonus to building a dream practice. In our experience, XYPN members just get it.

XYPN18 was announced for September 23-26, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. We wouldn’t be at all surprised to see 800 attendees there next year. With the growing A-player team they’ve assembled and their no-brainer value offer to planners of all career stages, we predict XYPN is just getting warmed up. We hope to be a part of that movement as partners, cheerleaders, and podcast subscribers for a long time.

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