Josh Cutler of Bluestem Financial Advisors on the ACP Annual Conference for Fiduciary Advisors - Video Chat with Marie Swift
In this Swift Chat video conversation, Josh Cutler of Bluestem Financial Advisors, LLC tells us why he is proud to be a member of the Alliance of Comprehensive Planners (ACP) and how he and the ACP annual conference task force planned for and shifted to a virtual event once the pandemic became a reality in 2020.
The ACP annual conference this year takes place, virtually, over three partial days: Oct 28, 29 and 30, 2020. I will be speaking on the power of persuasion. Mitch Anthony, Bob Keebler, Natalie Choate and Susan Bradley are also speaking. Only $295 for any interested financial advisor - you do not need to be an ACP member to attend. Lots of CEUs, too! Learn more at https://2020.acplanners.org/registration
Transcript: Cutler and Swift Conversation
I'm in a way grateful that we're doing the virtual conference because it's hard to get that line up of speakers regardless of the year we have the conference. So, to be able to get that line up for this year is pretty special. I know a lot of people come for CE and I think oftentimes leave the ACP conference getting a lot more than what they came for. So, that will be available for those that need it. But there's a lot more available than just the CE sessions." ~ Josh Cutler
Marie Swift: Hey everybody, Marie here. I have another great Swift Chat planned for you today. Today I have Josh Cutler. Josh is the Conference Chair of the Annual ACP Conference. So, Josh, I wanted to have him on today to talk about the conference. Hey Josh!
I can't remember how many of these I've been to, probably four now. But, I'm really looking forward to this one and I'm wondering if you could just share a little bit about your role, planning the conference, moving from what was going to be in person in Atlanta to now everything online. So just to give us the lay of the land what's happening with the ACP Conference this year.
Josh Cutler: Where to begin. So, we definitely started off thinking we were planning an in-person conference. My role as the Conferences Chair is just to really control the content and make sure that all the content is going to be applicable for attendees, both ACP members and then, and all the non-ACP members, perspective ACP members, that would be attending. So, it's a mixture of technical information as well as, practice management. That's one thing that I think our conference does really well is we have a good mix of making you a better financial planner, but also helping you run your practice in a better way as well. So, there's always takeaways from both ends of that.
I don’t get to take all the credit for the conference; the committee that I chair really should have all the credit, because they're the ones that take all their brain power to put it together. We meet twice a month over about a year; basically, we start right after the conference ends each fall and begin planning the next year. I've been on the committee for three or four years now and I've chaired the last two. So, this will be my last year and we certainly are going out with a bang with the virtual conference.
So, planning has been great. We started off, like I said, planning an in-person conference. And when COVID hit, we pivoted pretty quick to planning that there may be a virtual conference or that can contingency needed to be planned and planned for. We've been prepared for it.
We made some last-minute changes and condensed the schedule and made sure we had our absolute best presentation sessions in the lineup for this year's conference to make it most impactful. So, we're looking forward to it.
GREAT KEYNOTE SPEAKERS AND TOPICS
Marie: So, let's talk a little bit about some of your keynoters – I'm going to be doing a breakout, for those who are watching, I'm going to be doing something around conversational selling skills and the power of persuasion called “Sell is not a Four-Letter Word.”
You don't have to be an ACP member to participate in this conference. You can sign up and there are a bunch of CEUs, right?
Josh: Yes, there are. We will have some of the sessions running simultaneously – so there will be two paths, really. You can switch between paths: practice management sessions and technical sessions.
Some of those will be led by our keynoters, which include Natalie Choate, Mitch Anthony, Susan Bradley, Bob Keebler, and yourself.
We have a loaded lineup this year.
I'm in a way grateful that we're doing the virtual conference because it's hard to get that line up of speakers regardless of the year we have the conference. So, to be able to get that line up for this year is pretty special.
There will be CE all throughout. I know a lot of people come for CE and I think oftentimes leave the ACP conference getting a lot more than what they came for. So, that will be available for those that need it. But there's a lot more available than just the CE sessions.
Marie: I know Bert Whitehead is going to be doing a session too. I guess we call him the founder of The Alliance of Comprehensive Planners, although it was called something different way back then, Cambridge Alliance, I think. So, what is Bert talking about this year?
Josh: Last but not least, certainly is Bert headlining a session. He's going to be talking about the seven core concepts or seven core philosophies of ACP. So, if you're new to ACP or just want to learn more about the philosophies that ACP is all about and how practices are built, those seven core philosophies will be talked about in his session. And I mean, who better to talk about it then than the person who coined those philosophies?
GREAT VIRTUAL PLATFORM AND CEUs
Marie: Yes. And you have a bunch of great sponsors too, and there'll be a virtual exhibit hall. We love sponsors who help defray the costs and keep it affordable for practitioners. Anything about the exhibit hall or about networking? What's that experience going to be like now that you're on this platform? I think it's called Pathable.
Josh: Yes. So, Pathable, I'll talk a little bit about that but on the topic of the sponsors, we've been blessed to have a great sponsorship in the history of ACP. Our team that puts together the conference does a great job coordinating with sponsors. And so again, we've been blessed to have great sponsorship again this year.
The platform that we're using, Pathable, is great, and we're going to have plenty of time built in for those sponsors.
I'm really excited about how that's going to work. Basically, you have the opportunity to have a one-on-one without standing and waiting in line like you would at a normal conference to have your turn. You can actually schedule a one-on-one with a sponsor to learn more about their services and how it might work and benefit your firm and your practice. So, there'll be plenty of time built in each of the three days of the conference for coordinating with sponsors.
Marie: So, speaking of three days, it starts October 28th. So, it's a part day the 28th, 29th and the 30th, right?
Josh: That's right. So, we set up the content knowing that everybody gets a little hard to sit in front of your computer all day long. So, we built in breaks, an opportunity for you to just step away, take a brain break if you need one. It's not session after session all throughout the day. We give you the opportunity to have one-on-ones with colleagues you haven't seen in a while. Again, meeting with sponsors to learn more about what they have to offer and just some of those side sessions.
I feel like the one thing that you really miss with a virtual conference is the ability to just have those ad hoc pop-up conversations with people, even in passing, going from session to session. So, Pathable, the platform we're using for the conference, does a great job of it. It has a great capability of allowing us to build that into the conference, the best we can, of course; you are never going to replicate the in-person, but the platform does allow us to have the opportunity for you to schedule something or just say, hey, have you got a moment for a quick conversation? And then you just pop into a short Zoom meeting and can chat with somebody, you know, virtually, which is as face-to -face as you can be.
GREAT COMMUNITY OF FIDUCIARY PROFESSIONALS
Marie: Yes. I've loved my interactions the last several years that I've been at the conferences and just those hallway conversations. In fact, I usually set up a little recording station and talk to people. I get out the microphone and ask “what's happening here?” So, maybe I'll put on my thinking cap and try to bring some of that behind-the-scenes, you know, for people who can't make it, don't make it. But it's a great group of people.
In closing, could you just give us a little sense about why you became a member, what your path was to get to this point in life and what you appreciate about the Alliance of Comprehensive Planners?
Josh: Absolutely. I've been a member of ACP for about five years. I actually joined a firm, Bluestem Financial Advisors, and I'm now a partner of the firm. So, I joined and learned under existing ACP members, Karen Folk, Jake Kuebler, and learned the ropes from them and really grew my advisor skillset from where I was experienced in the brokerage industry. Just a few years out of college to being and having a lot of skill in the financial planning world.
So, I'm proud of all the hard work that's went in, proud of how much ACP has shaped the firm that I've been in. They mentored me in using all of the ACP core philosophies, like we talked about and will be addressing that the conference, showed me the ropes with all of that, pointed me to resources within ACP. And so, I had a little bit of a different path coming up through ACP and different kind of appreciation for all that it has to offer and how it can groom you and help you become just the best advisor possible.
So that's a five-year journey and now I'm actually going to be joining the board for ACP. I'm very, grateful for that opportunity and the opportunity to shape the future of ACP and make it even better for future firms and individuals that want to join our organization.
Marie: Yes, it's a great organization. I'm really glad that I've been able to get to know so many members and to work with many of the board members over the past couple of years. Well, is there anything that you'd like to say in closing, or have we pretty much covered it all?
Josh: So, I just encourage everybody to check out the conference and I'm very confident it'll be well worth the small investment to join, especially if you have the time, the time to commit. So, check out the conference. We'd love to see you and look forward to hearing all the great presentations here in less than a month.
Marie: Alright, thanks for being here today. I really enjoyed the conversation.
Josh: Thanks Marie.