Approximately 700 attendees filled the grand ballroom of the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina for the opening session of the Financial Services Institute’s OneVoice 2020 conference. Indeed, it was standing room only.

OneVoice is aimed at C-suite executives, and the opening session targeted those professionals with its theme: navigating the big shift. 

Top-down topics, from future business trends that involve artificial intelligence to the need for diversity in recruiting, were discussed by the presenters, who included Michelle Barry, president of H. Beck; Jim Crowley, chief executive of BNY Mellon-Pershing; John Rooney, managing principal of Commonwealth Financial Network; and Dale Brown, FSI’s president and chief executive.

Futurist Nancy Giordano gave a keynote address on social and business patterns that culminated in a single question that people should be asking themselves: How do we contribute—or create value in our choices?

While Giordano’s words were meant for a more general audience, with nonspecific takeaways, Brown put some meat on the bone with his remarks, laying out part of the agenda for FSI over the coming year. He said FSI’s advocacy work will be focused on reducing tax and regulatory burdens on financial advisor businesses, addressing cybersecurity and pushing for more incentives for people to save for retirement. Brown noted that FSI represents 33,000 financial advisor members.

“We’re engaging on issues that matter and getting results,” he said. Rallying support for the SECURE Act and pushing for further crackdowns on elderly financial abuse at the state and local levels were two FSI issues that he pointed to, and which received big applause from the audience. So did his call to make Reg BI work. 

“Reg BI establishes a ‘best interest’ standard of conduct for broker-dealers and associated persons when they make a recommendation to a retail customer of any securities transaction or investment strategy involving securities, including recommendations of types of accounts,” according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s definition of the regulation, adopted last June.

Brown called for FSI members to make Main Street Americans feel safe and secure about their money issues. Rooney gave a simple tactic on how to do that in his talk: by moving from salesmanship to counseling.

Woven throughout the first session were discussions about diversity, openness and fostering a strong sense of ethics in investing.

A good conference beginning.