Millennial Magazine- In the News- Future Proof Wealth Festival

©Millennial Magazine- Future Proof Wealth Festival

Imagine a beach-front parking lot filled with neon-colored pop-up tents, a bevy of food trucks serving local favorites, and a concert stage promoting  performances by Big Boi and Fitz And The Tantrums.

Add morning yoga, meditation, and surf lessons to the mix for a multi-day get-together that included the auctioning of painted skateboard decks, a commissioned mural, and enough selfie stations to keep an Instagramer occupied for hours.

So what was this bodacious blowout at the beach?

Future Proof Wealth Festival

It’s the first of its kind, and the official “un-conference” created by Advisor Circle and Ritholtz Wealth Management to bring the financial community together in a way that has never been done before, according to Matt Middleton, CEO, Adivsor Circle and Future Proof producer.

The week of September 11-14th proved to be an exciting one for the finance industry, with over two thousand money movers obtaining the most sought-after festival ticket in Huntington Beach, California.

Millennial Magazine- In the News- Future Proof Wealth Festival

©Millennial Magazine- Future Proof Wealth Festival

Josh Brown, CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management and co-host of The Compound & Friends Podcast with Michael Batnick, explained his reasons for supporting a non-traditional event like Future Proof in Ep. 63 of his podcast, “People working in finance have been living through this dispersion. Everyone is working on their own. They’re working in an office above the garage or in their dining room or in their basement, and every once in a while it’s nice to see each other.”  

The remote working norm that took over most industries also led to the isolation of the wealth advisor community. “So the idea was, let’s give people a really good reason to get back together. Let’s assemble some really great panels and speakers and then let’s make the setting something desirable,” Brown explained.

Middleton spoke candidly to Millennial about the roadblocks his team navigated prior to the festival. “The biggest challenge our team faced was answering the question everyone was asking leading up to the event, Can we actually pull this off? We know now that the answer was ‘yes’.”

Jill Axline, Director, Portfolio Marketing, Brand Strategy Group at Morningstar, Inc. explained why her company sponsored the inaugural festival. “As a first-year event, there’s always some level of trepidation. That said, the content line-up, quality of attendees, and track record of the Advisor Circle production team gave us confidence,” she summarized.

Millennial Magazine- In the News- Future Proof Wealth Festival

©Millennial Magazine- Future Proof Wealth Festival

By creating an event that invested heavily in technology, Future Proof’s aim was to facilitate a seamless experience from registration to customizing programming to booking meetings. We believe shared experiences create connections that build lasting relationships that drive us forward, and the event was designed with that belief front and center,” Middleton told Millennial. “The fact we made that a reality at the festival was our biggest win!” 

Axline confirmed the group’s ability to adapt, “I was enthused by how quickly attendees acclimated to a new way of connecting with one another,” she asserted.

Now labeled the “Cool Kids of Finance” after a successful inaugural event, Brown, Middleton and the entire Advisor Circle team wear the moniker with pride. “Someone said we’re the Burningman for finance, so then I said Earningman,” Brown joked.

While the brand activations were well above par for the finance industry, what made the festival stand out for us was the vulnerability of the speakers, hospitality of the vendors, and accessibility of the show producers.

Millennial Magazine- In the News- Future Proof Wealth Festival

©Millennial Magazine- Future Proof Wealth Festival

The Drop Heard Across The Astroturf

As fate would have it, the stock market experienced its 7th worst crash in history on Tuesday, Sept. 13th during the Future Proof Wealth Festival. Oddly, the news seemed to be missing from most conversations.

Some speakers did address the downturn. One in particular, Jeff Gundlach, CEO, DoubleLine, went full monty on the audience when he projected doom and gloom. His final words of advice to a 35-year-old financial advisor looking to traverse the rocky waters was simply, “God Bless”.

Millennial Magazine - Future Proof Wealth Festival

@Millennial Magazine- Shirl Penney, CEO, Dynasty Financial Partners- Future Proof Wealth Festival

On the flip side, Shirl Penney, President and CEO of Dynasty Financial Partners was quite optimistic and encouraging about the news. During his live interview with The Compound & Friends co-hosts, Penney declared, ”This is the Advisor SuperBowl! You live for moments like this.” A veteran of the industry, Penney added, “It’s a difficult time to engage with clients, but now is an incredible time to engage with prospects. So go on offense.”

Now how can you argue with that?

Bear Markets Are Better At The Beach

The theme of the festival was Inclusion & Equity, and the curated speakers lived up to that promise. Although multiple sessions were running at the same time, we managed to catch some interesting life experiences as we bounced from stage to stage.

Rachel Robasciotti, CEO, Adasina Social Capital told a personal story that exposed the inequity of capital on the “south sides” of many US cities. Because the black men in her family had either been killed or incarcerated, she was raised primarily by women and had a difficult life as a result. Her commitment to achieving social justice was matched by a quote she holds dear… 

No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” -Anonymous

Truer words have never been spoken.

Glauber Contessoto (#prothedoge), a YouTuber known as The Dogecoin Millionaire, bared his HODL soul to a curious audience of sympathizers. Never-before-seen clips of Chris Temple’s This is Not Financial Advice (release date early 2023) documents the on-going saga of Contessoto’s crypto obsession.

In February of 2021, Contessoto started his YouTube channel to share his journey with fellow Dogecoin enthusiasts. In his first episode, he revealed his strategy, “I took all my money from the bank, sold all my stock, maxxed out two credit cards, took out cash advances and threw it all into Dogecoin.” 

Contessoto was excited to announce to his followers that he had bought 5 million Dogecoins at .045 each, and went on to explain the five reasons why he made the investment.

Temple’s documentary excerpts showed Contessoto’s trading account increasing from $180k to over $3 million at one point, a swing that would send the average trader into euphoria right after hitting the “sell” button. But not so for Contessoto. He was determined from the beginning to ride the wave regardless of the drop. And drop it did. Again. And Again.

Crypto Is Here To Stay

When the film ended, the audience was deflated. It was painful to watch a fellow trader lose 2.5 million dollars through a series of film edits in a matter of minutes. Contessoto’s explanation for the hold was quite compelling and more common in the nouveau investor than one would think. 

“We went through school just trying to make it and get by,” he confessed. “I don’t come from money so I don’t have a business left for me to run or any tips.” Contessoto emphasized that risk is what moves the needle, and that buying into the right crypto coin at the right time could change his life forever.

Brown, the session moderator, agreed with The Dogecoin Millionaire. “It (Dogecoin) legitimately worked. It may not have stayed where it was, but in the end, the money is still the money,” he affirmed.

Troy Millings, co-host of the Earn Your Leisure Podcast added his perspective during a subsequent session when asked about the current state of cryptocurrencies. “Sometimes we have to go through some things,” he said about the market. “So 2017… we saw this happen. This is a shorter time span where we saw crypto at $3,000 and watched it ride up to $20,000.”

Millings went on to get very real about what’s taking place in today’s volatile market and went so far as to call for the resignation of a certain CEO for attempting to rebrand a legendary company, citing among other things, respect for the shareholders’ money.

Breaking Barriers In Finance

Millennial Magazine- In the News- Future Proof Wealth Festival

©Millennial Magazine- Perth Tolle, Founder, Life + Liberty Indexes- Future Proof Wealth Festival

At the Social Audio Experiment Stage, we had the pleasure of listening to some inspiring women in finance speak about their experiences and career obstacles.

Perth Tolle, the Founder of Life + Liberty Indexes, spoke with Jess Bost, VP Brand Partnerships at Alpha Architect, about what inspired her to go solo and how she cultivates stringent standards for selecting her initiatives.

Nicole Casperson, Journalist and Founder of WTFintech?, in an honest conversation with Laura Moreno, General Partner, L’Attitude Ventures, discussed the future generation of women of color in Fintech and how they must seize responsibility for getting a seat at the table.

Millennial Magazine- In the News- Future Proof Wealth Festival

© Millennial Magazine- Nicole Casperson (L) and Laura Moreno (R)- Future Proof Wealth Festival

“It’s really about us sitting in that power, and owning that power. And then it is on us to create a pathway for the next generation to actually follow. And if we don’t do that, then we miss out on the opportunity to do what we’re on this earth to do.”

Drawing insight from Moreno’s own personal story of persistence, Casperson read between the lines, “It was awesome that you were able to reach out to someone high profile that you would think, Why would they ever talk to me?” But you just put yourself out there and sometimes they will. You just never know when someone will say yes.”

Finance, Cannabis & Culture

Any true festival in Southern California would not be complete without the inclusion of cannabis. At Future Proof, it came in the form of a panel discussion moderated by Tiby Erdely, Founding Partner at KEY Investment Partners. Erdely was joined by several investment companies specializing in cannabis, including Sweet Leaf Madison Capital, Grassdoor, and Katalys as well as Gordian Compliance Solutions.

The highly attended session was jam-packed with useful information, as they went through investment and banking rules while also addressing compliance issues. The audience was captivated after hearing their analysis and took the opportunity to meet the panelists after the session.

Millennial Magazine- In the News- Future Proof Wealth Festival

 ©Millennial Magazine- Tony Concep- Future Proof Wealth Festival

As with cannabis, art is an essential element of culture. Sponsor Reggie Browne, Principal, GTS thinks so, too, and commissioned a live mural from local artists, Tony Concep and Anthony C. Brown, Jr as part of the celebration. The artwork was then featured throughout the event as a memory marker for all who attended. The reaction to the artwork being on display was extremely positive; many participants took photographs with the artists and asked about both the piece and the technique used to make it.

Browne, a big supporter of the art community, had the GTS booth stationed next to the mural and took the opportunity to share his philanthropic passion with fellow finance professionals.

Jason Hamilton, CEO, Keep It Simple Financial Planning, revealed his thoughts about the wealth festival’s reimagined programming. “I watched a session on investing in the cannabis industry, NFT’s and why that part of the digital assets realm will probably struggle for a while, and heard a young Billionaire tech entrepreneur share his thoughts on the future of portfolio customization.” 

Hamilton compared Future Proof to other financial conferences he attended throughout his career. In his opinion, the wealth festival was considerably more significant than the usual meetings. He was especially moved by a conversation he had with vendors from a co-sponsored booth. “Getting to speak with the gentlemen at the FP Transitions and Live Oak Bank booths at the same time was both memorable and advantageous. I felt like I got a 15 minute master class in M&A. It was very helpful.”

Final Thoughts

Crossing the bridge back to the Hyatt at the end of day three, we couldn’t help but question, “Did we just watch Nero fiddle while Rome burned?” as the music echoed in the distance with flashing strobes and shadowy bodies swaying to the beats. 

Millennial Magazine- In the News- Future Proof Wealth Festival

 ©Millennial Magazine- Big Boi- Future Proof Wealth Festival

But that wasn’t the case. We weren’t watching an industry in denial. We were watching an industry planning a comeback, armed with individuals of all races, genders, and ages who viewed the glass half-full. An industry that’s going “all in” on a badly dealt hand. 

Middleton summarized it best in our post-event interview, “The community that showed up just goes to prove one of the festival’s core beliefs, that our industry can prepare for the future simply by learning, accepting and adapting.” 

His partner, Barry Ritholtz of Ritholtz Wealth Management, had this to add,  “If we learned anything during the pandemic it’s that the world is changing faster than ever. You not only have to keep up, you have to move ahead.”

And one final point from Penney, “There is no better time to be an advisor than in the midst of an environment like we are in now.”

When you add together Rachel’s passion, Glauber’s tenacity, Perth’s resolve, Nicole’s conviction, Troy’s honesty and Jason’s optimism, we are confident the wealth management industry is in good hands with the Next Gen of financial advisors.

Mission accomplished, Future Proof crew!


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