Every fall, I look forward to attending FPA’s Annual Conference; Chicago will be my fourth in a row. The engaging presentations, panels and keynotes are unmatched in the industry, not to mention the high-caliber professional networking among both professionals and providers. Each year, there are a few things I do in preparation for the conference to ensure I maximize my experience. To absorb every opportunity, I recommend you consider the following tips in advance of your trip:

  1. Prepare to Disconnect – To the extent you’re able, address your clients’ needs and business responsibilities prior to the conference. Because much of the value comes from conversations between conference sessions; the last thing you want to be doing is scrambling to catch up on overdue work. Handle your responsibilities in advance so you can be present and absorb the conversations and material without distractions.
  2. Download the Conference App – The FPA Annual Conference App is key for keeping tabs on important updates and events. Attendees can chat and post pictures and you can view presenter’s slides and bios on-demand.
  3. Set your Agenda – Reviewing the available sessions in advance allows me to map out my days, ensuring I’m getting exposure to a wide variety of topics. If CE is what you’re after, you can shape your day to maximize your credits. Building out your schedule in advance allows you time to network between sessions while avoiding the need to make rushed decisions in choosing between the upcoming available options.
  4. Consider Arriving Early or Staying Late – Conferences are a great opportunity to explore new cities! I like to spend an afternoon before or after the conference to check out parks and museums. Don’t miss The Bean in Chicago’s Millennium Park and Chicago’s Architectural River Cruise.
  5. Pack Your Bags – Check the weather and don’t forget to bring layers! I like to bring the same notebook to FPA’s Annual Conference every year; perhaps its old school, but I like having my notes from past conferences in one place. I can easily reference ideas and best practices upon returning home. I also typically bringing a reusable water bottle, however if I forget one I can usually pick up one from our gracious sponsors in the exhibit hall!

With these tips, I hope you’ll be able to maximize your conference experience in Chicago. I look forward to seeing you in the Windy City!

Rachel F. Moran is a Senior Financial Planner with RTD Financial, and an active member of the Financial Planning Association’s NexGen community, serving as the 2018 Chair. She is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance. In 2016, Rachel was named one of InvestmentNews’ 40 Under 40, in recognition of her accomplishments to date, contributions to the industry, leadership and promise. A thought leader in her profession, Rachel has been quoted in InvestmentNews and published in the Journal of Financial Planning.

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