A Tough Question

 I’m rarely at a loss for words, but I was recently asked a question that gave me …pause.

It was a simple question really—John Sullivan and I were being interviewed on the 401(k) Specialist podcast—and Brian Anderson asked “which session are you most looking forward to at the NAPA 401(k) Summit?”

I was only too happy to defer to John while I gave the question some thought. But in truth, it was a little bit like asking a parent to name their favorite child.  Now, there are some sessions I am more interested in than others—but to pick one? 

Well, I just couldn’t do it—and fortunately Brian didn’t try to box me in (I did allude to a specific affinity for the LIVE Nevin & Fred podcast session, however).  

In fact, we do approach our content a bit differently than most, I think. While it’s gotten to be pretty common for events to boast of the pedigree of their steering bodies, many, perhaps most—are essentially no more than figureheads to the actual agenda development. They’re a group to whom the folks doing the “real” work of planning, structuring and implementing the event keep updated, mostly for a sense of validation and the occasional course correct. Oh, and so that the event can “show off” the luminaries that have agreed to lend their name (and face) to promote its bona fides.

Your Summit Steering committee has spent nearly a year putting this all together—and leveraging YOUR input on topics, each has aligned themselves with a specific workshop—literally “owning” that session. That means fleshing out the focus, lining up speakers/panelists, developing a core list of key takeaways, conducting trial runs/practices, and ultimately making sure that all the materials are in on time—and that on “game day” everybody shows up and does their part. As a result, I can pretty much promise you that you won’t be able to attend every session you’d like. In fact, I’d be surprised if you don’t find yourself torn between multiple sessions all going on at the same time throughout the event.

There are, of course, a myriad of ways to build and structure events—note here that I haven’t said a word about our keynotes, or even NAPA After Dark (that has in just a few short years emerged as the pinnacle of industry networking events). But, aside from the practical information, valuable insights, vibrant networking—and yes, world-class entertainment—it’s worth remembering that among all the (other) things that set the NAPA 401(k) Summit apart—unlike every other advisor conference out there—your NAPA 401(k) Summit registration helps support the activities of NAPA—your advocacy, information and education organization—not the bottom line of some corporate media organization or some private equity firm. NAPA not only informs and educates—it literally is your voice with regulatory agencies and legislative bodies both here in the nation’s capital—and across the nation.

Indeed, that voice is particularly essential this year, as the attacks—both overt and the insidious passive-aggressive types—are out and about with an unusual vigor in recent months. This being an election year—and one that seems particularly fraught with concerns—makes the current environment all the more precarious. It’s not hyperbole to suggest that the fate of the 401(k) could be in the balance.

So, if you’re one of the record 2,800+ arriving in Nashville next week—please lend your voice, support the ARA PAC, and get ready to leave Nashville full of energy, ideas, and a renewed fervor to make a difference. 

While you’re there, please stop me (I’ll likely be running) and say “hey!” Make sure to thank the Summit Steering committee when you see them—and the ARA/NAPA conferences staff as well—cause something this big doesn’t even get off the ground without a LOT of careful/thoughtful planning and on-site execution! 

And if you haven’t (yet) applied to be part of the NAPA DC Fly-In Forum—well, today would be a good day to do so before it fills up as well!

- Nevin E. Adams, JD 


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