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My Biggest Takeaways from Orion Ascent this Year

Jeff Haines and Dan Wanous of Thrivent Advisor Network meeting with attendees at their booth backdrop has printed Thrivent Advisor Network
Jeff Haines and Dan Wanous meet with attendees at the Orion Ascent Conference

I recently returned from attending Orion Ascent, one of the first big industry events to return to an in-person model this year. Thrivent Advisor Network was proud to sponsor the event held in Scottsdale, which brings together financial advisors and industry leaders for three days of informative sessions and networking opportunities.

Particularly after more than a year of complete absence of in-person events, attending Orion’s user conference felt rather momentous. I admit, it took a while to get used to being amongst several hundred people again. But it’s undeniable that there was an energy and excitement to the conference that you simply can’t recreate virtually. It felt great to run into industry friends and make new connections. We were able to enjoy a long dinner with one of our partners to talk about how we can build something new to support our advisor community. We also met with potential new partners about how their tools could be used to help our advisors more deeply connect with clients. In both cases, a conversation face to face, without the constraints of Zoom, led to much richer conversation.

Beyond the benefits of being in person, I came away from the event with a few lessons that I think are valuable for advisors and those of us that work with advisors.

The Value of Advice

In the opening session, Orion’s Dr. Daniel Crosby talked about the long-term value for clients who have a relationship with an advisor. He referenced research showing the positive impact on a family’s wealth as the tenure of their relationship with an advisor grows to give years, 10 years and 15+ years. As the time horizon expanded, their separation from do-it-yourself peers grew significantly. This reinforced for me the long-term value of what we all do and of the potential ripple effects in clients’ families and communities when they invest in advice.

The Importance of Intentionality

Kate Healy, an advocate for the next generation of financial advisors, talked about the importance of intentionality and understanding the different pressures that some next-generation clients are facing. Healy has done extensive research on the changing needs of advisors and clients over the next several decades. She reminded us that when someone is the first member of their family to go to college, or to get a salaried job with benefits, or to have the means to work with a financial advisor, they often experience unique pressures around money. Advisors need to be prepared to help their clients navigate these pressures.

Knowing Your “Who”

Finally, in his breakout session “You Can’t Automate Behavior into Existence,” my colleague Thrivent Advisor Network Head of Technology Jeff Haines shared that when you are evaluating whether a new technology solution is going to help your business, you need to make sure that the user of the technology will feel the tangible benefit from the change. If your clients or your team doesn’t understand how they benefit from a new tool, adoption will not succeed. Jeff recently authored a blog on this topic as well that discusses a framework for selecting the best tech options to fuel growth for your practice.

Jeff Haines speaking to an audience works on the screen read You can't automate behavior into existence
Jeff Haines leading a breakout session

While the future of in-person events for the remainder of this year remains uncertain, I appreciate having had the opportunity to attend Orion Ascent and I look forward to a time – hopefully not too far in the future – when we can all gather more often to share insights, best practices and lively conversation.