I spent the weekend at the Financial Bloggers Conference (FinCon) in St. Louis and had a blast hanging out with other financial nerds like myself. The same weekend, the Financial Planning Association was hosting their National Conference (FPA Experience) in Orlando, and while I would have learned a ton from the content, it was the people that I met at #FinCon13 that made this experience amazing. I’ve been to a lot of financial planning conferences and here is why I heart FinCon:
I wore my 1997 Toyota Corolla like a badge of honor.
Financial planners like to drive nice cars. When I go to the local FPA chapter meetings that are held at a country club, the parking lot is filled with: BMWs, Audis, and the like. If you like driving a nice car that’s fine, but I could care less about cars which is why I’m still driving the same car that I’ve had since I was 16. Her name is Carla and she has 216,000 miles on her. This fun fact was shared a few times at #FinCon13 and the response I received was one of awe and envy. The truth is that I would rather spend money on experiences than things and most people at #FinCon13 are the same way. It’s not about showing off, it’s about being real. (Read: Invest In Relationships – They Pay the Highest Dividends).
I embraced my inner nerd.
Yep, the #FinCon13 crowd isn’t just nerdy about finances; we are nerdy about quite a few things. One of my favorite conversations was with people who love all things Disney, which lead to a conversation on Harry Potter, which made me really want to try butter beer. Did I mention we’re all around age 30? Or when a former band kid, Pat Flynn, told me he was in pit orchestra in college and then we talked about our favorite musicals that we were in for the next 20 minutes. He was also one of the keynote speakers. These conversations are much less likely to happen at an FPA conference because people are trying to show off how smart they are, rather than geek out over shared interests.
I wore jeans the entire weekend and so did everyone else.
Ok, almost everyone else except for Derek Halpern who wore really nice suits and Agatha who wore kick-ass camo-leggings (there’s a photo floating in the Twittersphere). I hate wearing a suit and heels and that’s the standard uniform at FPA events, so when I wear hot-pink jeans and black knee high boots I tend to stick out like a sore thumb, but not at FinCon! Now that I work remotely, I really hate being uncomfortable at conferences in clothes that don’t like wearing, so I tend to wear what I want and I’ve gotten over sticking out.
Overall, it was a blast! I met the best people and can’t wait to go back next year! I really think that this was one of the best conferences I’ve ever been to because everyone I met was kind, encouraging and inviting. I think the financial planning community could learn a lot from #FinCon13 in terms of making others feel welcome. I love the idea that differences were embraced and encouraged. Don’t get me wrong, some of my closest friends are financial planners, but it took me years to make these connections (as opposed to one night of tearing up the dance floor!) It felt like… coming home.