California entrepreneur and NSA star are among the top draws

March 2, 2010 — 7:19 AM UTC by Brooke Southall


Brooke’s Note: The on-site reporting for the this story was generously provided by Timothy Welsh, principal of Nexus Strategy LLC of Larkspur, Calif., who kept notes and gave me a report by telephone from the front lines.

The FPA Business Solutions 2010 conference kicked off yesterday in Dallas with a solid crowd, some big name speakers and lousy weather.

The fifth annual technology and practice management event of the Financial Planning Association doubled the size of its crowd to 300 attendees and sold out the exhibit hall.

The event featured Eric Haseltine as a speaker and Aaron Patzer as head of a breakout session. Patzer sold his company,, to Intuit in September for $170 million before he turned 30.

Haseltine is president and managing partner of Haseltine Partners LLC. He was director of research at the National Security Agency. He discussed how human nature will intersect with technology in the future.

Julie Littlechild, the chairperson of the conference and the president of Advisor Impact Inc. of New York summed up the conference in this way.

Tactics behind the strategies

“What makes the FPA Biz Sol conference so great and the big difference with this conference is that it is specifically focused on advanced practice management and the speakers themselves are focused on the tactics behind the strategies so the participants can walk away with an action plan,” she said. “There is so much in this industry about talking, this is about doing.”

Joel Bruckenstein, who organized the Technology Tools for Today [T3] conference in La Jolla, Calif., in February, takes a different view.

“I’m not sure I agree with Julie Littlechild’s observation that there is much talk in the industry but little doing,” he says. “I think the core of top professionals who attend national conferences are highly motivated, and they are doers. Unfortunately, the folks Ms. Littlechild refers to are generally not the ones who attend this type of event. Most of the folks I meet at T3 are there because their goal is to improve their technologies and their processes. They are doers.”

Patzer was one doer who had an overflowing crowd at his breakout session yesterday, according to Timothy Welsh, principal of Nexus Strategy LLC, who attended it. Patzer talked to advisors about how they can use on behalf of clients. The website is generally considered a place for consumers to gather data and figure out budgets, but he made a case that it has commercial applications.

Welsh agreed.

Hot area for advisors

“It’s become a hot area for advisors — to help clients with budgeting,” he says. “There could be a business model there for financial advisors. He was saying: What do you want to see? And he mentioned technical challenges around the issue of passwords.”

Brooke’s note: I mentioned Welsh’s comments about to Nevin Freeman, the RIABiz webmaster, and he told me that he’s noticing an increasing number of Tweets about in the RIA community.

Mentioned in this article:

Financial Planning Association
Top Executive: Lauren S. Schadle, CAE, Executive Director and CEO

Nexus Strategy
Consulting Firm
Top Executive: Timothy D. Welsh

Technology Tools for Today
Consulting Firm
Top Executive: David J. Drucker

Share your thoughts and opinions with the author or other readers.


Bill Winterberg said:

March 2, 2010 — 11:54 PM UTC

I attended Aaron Patzer’s session at FPA Business Solutions, and I must admit that most of the room was astonished by the ease of the platform’s setup (create an account, enter some website credentials, then Mint does the rest) and the depth of the transaction aggregation.

One comment from Patzer that was noteworthy was why any advisor would pay a per-account fee to aggregate account data. He told the audience that Mint does this for free for all of its consumers.

Bill @ <a href=""></a>


Brooke Southall said:

March 3, 2010 — 4:25 AM UTC


Thanks for adding depth to this article with your comments. I’m beginning to wonder why I don’t use based on the positive comments made by you and Tim Welsh.

I know that neither one of you is easily wowed.

I think I’ll try to get in touch with Mr. Patzer and to get more information about how serious he is about making this workable for advisors.



John Donovan said:

March 8, 2010 — 12:30 PM UTC

I’m surprised it’s taken so long for Mint to get a mention in our industry. I’ve used it for over a year for personal finances. It won’t replace high end data aggregation tools for RIAs generally. From a consumers standpoint however, I believe it will have the same “stickiness” as on-line bill paying. Once you have Mint established, you won’t have any motivation to do it again with a competing service. If you’re the RIA who introduces a client to a free and convenient on-line service, you’ll have a friend for life.

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