The Future Proof Experience: Innovation Is Everywhere

The Future Proof experience completely clicked for me once I got the literal 40,000-foot view on the flight in from Maine. My seatmates were both in the industry. One was also going to the show. The other was going to a more focused organization-only event.

I've withheld their specific affiliations to protect their privacy. But one was eager to expand on what he does and how he's changing the world, one hard-to-manage account at a time. 

The other was primarily an advisor. He delivers solutions. On that flight, he was the potential customer, someone who might push money toward the man in the middle seat in exchange for access to better tools.

At Future Proof, everyone can sit in both seats. That's the goal. Everyone I've met so far is some shade of business-to-business entrepreneur, with something to share with other advisors.

Obviously they want their innovations to get traction in the overall industry. They want their ideas and proprietary insights to spread. And this being the world we live in, most of them want to get paid at least a little if they help others succeed.

There are very few pure consumers here. The so-called "vendor floor" that everyone who's been to a trade show knows so well is set up a little differently.

There's no hard wall between consumers and producers here, or what we would call business-to-consumer versus business-to-business. The border slides from giants like State Street, Morningstar and Vanguard toward players that look and feel more like successful RIAs. 

On the far end of the scale, you've got the anything-goes environment of the Breakthru meeting space, where the roles can change in 15-minute intervals. For one meeting, you can be a vendor hoping to distribute your ideas to someone else in the business. Minutes later, the hats switch. You're the buyer.

Pure buyers are obviously at a premium here because that's where the cash starts flowing across the system. Never forget that the Future Proof team will pay you to go to the show if you sign up for enough meetings.

Pure sellers are the ones who pay in. They buy tickets and buy tent space on the beach because they see the ROI in getting in front of people in the business. That makes sense. It's closer to the traditional vendor room model.

But the seat in the middle is the most interesting because the barrier to entry is lower. You just need to buy a ticket and craft the right profile. Suddenly you're a small-scale entrepreneur, even if that means being an army of one.

You have some meetings. You share ideas. Maybe it turns into business where some cash flows your way from other advisors.

Or maybe you just make some friends. Allies are better than customers in a lot of ways. Some of the big players here don't actually need or want any more pure customers. They're here to deepen relationships and build stronger networks.

The thing about alliances is that resources flow both ways. The roles can flex. One day, you're the subject matter expert and your friends lean on you for answers. Then you call them.

But that's a deeper topic. The point here is that when you strip out the mystique of the beach and the relaxed dress code, this is a show for advisors who are alert to their role in the larger industry ecosystem.

Every advisor reading this today does something better than everyone else in the world. Your peers are jealous of that. They would love to get a taste of it for themselves so they can focus on what they actually excel at and enjoy.

Do that thing. Open up the platform. You built it. Clients bought it. Let other advisors buy it for their clients too.

Try to avoid the fixed client-facing role. It's okay to be a pure b-2-c advisor, but you know the world is changing. Robo, fintech, all those forces crowding into the b-2-c space.

Be part of the future. More later. 


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