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3 Takeaways from the Raymond James National Conference

  • By Andrea Schlapia
  • |
  • May 29, 2018

With the 2018 Raymond James National Conference for Professional Development in the books, I’ve had a chance to spend a few days reflecting on this phenomenal event and the impact it has on advisors from all around the country.

Between the keynotes I attended, the sessions I presented, conversations had over lunch or dinner and more, a few key items kept cropping up. Interestingly, they’re all linked in a special way.


On the first day of the conference, Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave a powerful keynote address on leadership. In fact, I immediately shared his pearls of wisdom in a blog post you can find here.

While thinking about each of these advisors in attendance, they’re all likely the leader of their firm, or at least play a significant role on the leadership team.

And here they are, traveling from afar to learn from each other, learn from professional speakers, and soak up as much knowledge as possible to help their practice achieve new heights.

They’ll each be returning to their individual teams, all of whom will be looking to their leader and hoping to witness the implementation of what was learned at the conference.

Attendees of this conference truly seem to take this seriously, which helps them remain focused and engaged in the various keynotes and breakout sessions.

Speaking of leadership, I loved seeing Raymond James CEO Paul Reilly take the stage and affirmed the core value of the firm: Client First! This public embrace of a client-centric approach is just one of many reasons whey they’re a respected leader in the financial services industry.


As a financial advisor coach who’s been consulting with firms for the last decade, I can assure you that no firm is *perfect.* Some may face seemingly minor issues while others are putting out 5-alarm fires daily.

The key is acceptance that there are internal issues, and that an honest approach is taken to communicating those challenges to others who can help.

The firms that make the most progress, and the attendees of this conference who gain the most guidance, are those that are open to sharing their concerns and embracing their weaknesses.

Raymond James does an excellent job of providing a wide range of sessions to help advisors gain new advantages, new approaches and new momentum to reach new milestones.

I encourage openness in my sessions and purposefully create time for advisors to collaborate with each other and share their real-world scenarios for feedback.


As mentioned earlier, the advisors in attendance are likely the leaders of their firm. They’re used to being the ones leading the meetings and calling the shots.

However, in this conference environment they are in heavy listening mode. They’re sponges trying to absorb every morsel of information, like these important points on listening from Former Defense Secretary Gates’ keynote address:

“Leaders listen to their employees. Listening is a big part of leadership – to your employees, clients and key stake holders.”

“Leaders must be confident in their vision and willing to shift the vision via the finding from the listening.”

So, while advisors may frequently find themselves sharing information from a top-down perspective to their team, the better leaders will be just as open to listening for, and actively seeking, information from those they lead.

The troops in the field are the ones that can deliver a true depiction of the battlefield to the generals in the headquarters, which leads to better decision making for all involved.

In Conclusion

The Raymond James National Conference brings together elite advisors who all have the aim of delivering world-class service to their clients.

By understanding the importance and nuances of leadership, by being transparent about room for growth, and by listening to those who can guide them to new heights, these advisors are all on a path to a stronger firm.

Whether you attended the Raymond James conference or not, I can help you strengthen your practice in many ways.

  • Could you be a better leader?
  • Could you transparently conduct a practice analysis to find weak spots?
  • Are you ready to listen?

If so, I’m here to help. Simply send a note to get started.

Are you just getting by or are you getting better? Get started today!

Author Bio

Andrea Schlapia, RCC™, HCS, sHRBP, is the Founder and CEO of Ironstone, which represents the culmination of her 20+ year career within the financial services industry. Her experience began as a financial advisor evolving into a consultant coach for advisors entering the field. This ignited her passion to support others through learning and development of best practices in order to achieve substantial results. To this end, she followed her desire into positions of senior-level practice management specialists for Dreyfus, Prudential, and DWS Investments prior to the realization of Ironstone.  Andrea’s focus is on practice management strategies to enhance and improve both business and personal life. Andrea identifies 4 key performance areas known as the Fundamental 4™, which are required to design, develop, and sustain a successful business. Through coaching sessions and speaking engagements, she captivates her audience with interactive, high-energy presentations which are built with “how-to” strategies resulting in real-world implementation for significant impact. Andrea has been featured in multiple publications and audio broadcasts as a specialist and distinguished spokeswoman in the financial industry.