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Future Proof plants its flag in the advisor industry event circuit

Future Proof

Future Proof plants its flag in the advisor industry event circuit

After beating the skeptics in its first iteration, Future Proof cemented its place in the wealth management industry’s annual event lineup when it returned to Huntington Beach, California, earlier this month. 

The event, developed as a collaboration between production studio Advisor Circle and Ritholtz Wealth Management, successfully evolved from the “world’s first wealth festival” into “the world’s largest wealth festival.” Future Proof attracted almost 3,000 attendees this year, including more than 1,300 financial advisors and wealth management executives, nearly double last year’s attendance. Sponsor companies increased from 79 to 186, and more than 100 members of the media covered the event, including InvestmentNews. 

The growth was noticeable to return attendees like Matt Carvalho, chief investment officer of Cardinal Point Capital Management, a Toronto-based RIA with $1.5 billion in AUM. While many stayed away in 2022, fearing Future Proof would turn out to be a Fyre Festival-esque disaster, the event’s success clearly made a mark on those trying to sell to advisors. 

“It seemed everyone we work with on the asset management side was hosting lunches, dinners or happy hours throughout the conferences, whereas I think last year was a bit of a wait and see, which was understandable given the very different setup of the conference and a younger demographic,” Carvalho said in an email. 

Future Proof kicked off Sunday, Sept. 10, with a panel on what advisors need to do to attract and retain young clients with Sarah Levy, CEO of Betterment; Bill Capuzzi, CEO of Apex Clearing; and Kunal Kapoor, CEO of Morningstar. Joe Duran followed on Monday by sharing the first details about Rise, his new venture to invest in the next generation of large registered investment advisors. 

“There’s so little original thought,” Duran said from the conference stage. “When I look at the industry now, everyone is doing the exact same thing.” 

The same could be said of the traditional industry events that Future Proof was launched to disrupt. While the event was much larger in 2023 and attracted the most prominent firms in the industry — including Vanguard, which got its own mini-protest in the form of a billboard on a truck parked on Highway 1, just outside the event’s gates, pushing the fund manager to improve its climate practices — the setting, dress code, musical guests and overall experience are still completely unlike anything else available to advisors. 


“There is a very positive vibe around the event. People were excited to be there and to meet other new people – it didn’t feel like a mandated drag,” Carvalho said. “As last year, the food truck lunch option is simply the best. I never want to go back to long buffet lines.” 

While some first-time attendees like Danika Waddell, founder of Xena Financial Planning, a flat-fee RIA based in Seattle, arrived in Southern California with some doubts about the beachside event, they left ready to return again. 

“I came in relatively skeptical, but was incredibly impressed,” Waddell said. “The quality and the execution were top-notch. Really, I was blown away by the attention to detail. Everything just worked.” 

“Lots of positive energy, collaboration, bringing new people into the space, and fun.”

Shirl Penney, CEO, Dynasty Financial Partners

Discussion of artificial intelligence and how advisors can incorporate it into their technology was prevalent throughout the three-day event. Morningstar used Future Proof to launch its Intelligence Engine API, which financial services firms can use to build their own generative AI products powered by Mo, the AI service Morningstar launched in May. 

“Mo has answered tens of thousands of investment research questions in a few short months, demonstrating the impact generative AI can have on this space,” Lee Davidson, chief analytics officer at Morningstar, said in a statement. “Resources are tight, and firms are looking for ways to streamline processes with AI.” 


Orion Advisor Solutions executives, including departing founder and CEO Eric Clarke (who will hand the role to former AssetMark CEO Natalie Wolfson in 2024), took the stage to give a first look at a new Portfolio Comparisons tool that combines AI and behavioral finance, or BeFi, to give advisors a new way to show clients the impact portfolio decisions have on risk, allocation and taxes. 

“This is a true alignment of an advisor’s workflow with all of the technology in Orion’s wheelhouse,” Clarke said. “From BeFi and Orion Risk Intelligence to Orion Planning, Orion Trading and AI, our team has built an exhilarating next generation of Orion — threading everything together to create an end-to-end improved experience for both the advisor and their client.” 

But for many advisors, including Waddell and Carvalho, the best value to be found at Future Proof was in the “Breakthru” meetings, a series of short meetings scheduled using a digital interface. Both parties have to opt in, like a dating app requiring both people to “match” before they can talk, to disrupt the traditional cold calling that still dominates many industry events. 

More than 1,803 attendees participated in Breakthrus, and 16,684 meetings were scheduled, according to event organizers. 

“The Breakthru meetings were a great idea that created networking opportunities far beyond most conferences,” said Tom Rieman, founding partner and CEO of Practice Intelligence. “Speed dating, yes. But really 15 focused minutes with people I was interested in connecting with: advisors, enterprise and thought leaders.” 


The success of Future Proof has caught the attention of the industry’s biggest names, including Dynasty Financial Partners CEO Shirl Penney, who said the event showed a bright future for the industry. What started as an idea to bring a fresh perspective on industry gatherings has evolved into something that is “fantastic for the industry,” he said. 

“Lots of positive energy, collaboration, bringing new people into the space, and fun,” Penney added. “The flywheel is spinning now, and each year will build on the last – and I’m excited to see where they take it.” 

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