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Smaller custodian is starting to make a habit of 'going big'
April 29, 2010 — 6:25 AM UTC by Brooke Southall
TD Ameritrade Institutional is holding a conference featuring Condoleezza Rice, Jeremy Siegel and Robert Shiller. Fred Tomczyk, CEO of TD Ameritrade and Tom Bradley, president of TD Ameritrade’s RIA business, will also speak at the event at the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach, Calif., June 8-11, 2010.
In other words, the Elite Advisor Summit has the kind of line-up that you would expect from a major custodial conference. The difference is that the Jersey City, N.J.–based custodian is only targeting 100 advisors who are being invited based on their success and size primarily.
“This is designed to be more intimate,” says Paul Zettl, managing director of institutional marketing and corporate events for TD. “We target around 100 advisors because we want to keep it intimate and allow advisors to ask questions and network.”
Zettl allows that more than 100 invitations will be sent out and – because of the strong program – conference attendance could swell much higher. Most attendees are expected to come from the western United States but invitations are being sent out to major clients nationally.
Fourth elite event
This will be the fourth such annual event that TD Ameritrade has held for advisors who work with RIA firms managing $100 million to more than $1 billion of assets.
TD’s willingness to pull out the stops for 100 financial advisors is in keeping with the highly ambitious marketing efforts it has been demonstrating of late – not the least of which was its national conference. See: 7 signs that TD Ameritrade’s big conference may be a harbinger of things to come
“It seems TD is taking the saying ‘go big or go home’ literally and is engaged in a broad-based effort to change the game,” says Stephanie Bogan, CEO of Quantuvis Consulting, who will lead a day-long practice management workshop on the best practices of top performing firms at the event. “They are literally everywhere these days. They are making their intentions known and Backing them up.”
The company deliberately selects a site for the conference that is on the opposite end of the United States from where the national event is held. This year TD’s national event – featuring Bill Clinton and George W. Bush – was held in Orlando. It attracted 1,279 financial advisors.
Posh and intimate
TD’s primary competitors – Fidelity Investments and Schwab Advisor Services – have also produced posh and intimate annual events for select financial advisors. Schwab calls its event the Explore conference. Fidelity has a similar event – often held at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla.
Fidelity occasionally invites the press. Schwab has kept a low profile with its Explore event and does not invite reporters. TD is going to be open about its event and will invite some media. [RIABiz is planning to attend.]
“We pride ourselves on being transparent,” Zettl says. “Our DNA is similar to the advisors we serve.”
A featured general session will be headed by Robert Schiller, Professor of Economics, Yale University, and Jeremy Siegel, Professor of Finance, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania each giving a 30-minute case for their views of the economic situation.
Pessimistic and positive views
The former speaker is expected to give a more pessimistic view and Siegel the more positive outlook. They’ll have a shared question and answer session.
Rice will offer her thoughts on business and political leadership and offer insights and strategies for business success on a global scale.
Blaine Aikin, president and CEO of fi360 will provide an update on the regulatory climate and what impact RIAs may see as a result of financial services reform proposals.
Jody Agius Vallejo, assistant professor of sociology, University of Southern California, will speak about serving a diverse community and marketing to a Hispanic population.
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