The Future is About Experiences: An Interview with Josh Brown

With more than 1,000 attendees already signed up to attend, the Future Proof Festival is easily the most anticipated event on this year’s wealth management calendar. Over the coming weeks we will be sharing a preview of what’s to come, featuring interviews with entertainers, advisors and executives who will be in Huntington Beach, California, from September 11-14, 2022.


Our first interview is with “Downtown” Josh Brown, CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management and author of The Reformed Broker blog. He is an on-air contributor at CNBC and has more than 100,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, The Compound. 


Here’s what he had to say about the four-day Future Proof Festival, his deep hatred of branded thumb drives and why this is the wealth management event the industry needs.


Future Proof: What is the Future Proof Festival? 


Downtown Josh Brown: The Future Proof Festival is a wealth management festival that feels like your favorite live event. 

We asked ourselves, “What are the things that can’t be replicated online? What are the things that people actually really care about and look forward to—and look back and remember?”

“Where is the real impact?” 


It’s almost entirely about the personal connections people make. Networking is the number one reason you should go to an event. The connections formed at a great event are the number one thing you take with you. 


We want to put great people on stage and we want to have an atmosphere that’s fun and engaging. Most importantly, we want to facilitate people meeting with each other and exchanging ideas with a drop dead gorgeous backdrop and experiences that will be like nothing that they’ve ever had at any other wealth management event. 


You can’t do this on LinkedIn. You can’t do this on Twitter. The relationships you create online will never be as meaningful as those formed in-person.


FP: I’ve heard you draw comparisons between SXSW and Future Proof. What’s going to surprise attendees at this conference?

 

Downtown: The boardwalk’s not going to look like your typical exhibitor hall, for starters. The whole thing will be outdoors. The booths are going to be more like brand activations—something you would see at a concert. 


The types of companies that are going to be exhibiting and sending people are going to be a little bit livelier. The types of companies that have agreed to sign on to something like this, in its first year, are going to be a little bit more on the adventurous side. And quite frankly, the brands that want to make an impact at Future Proof are going to have to adapt to us. 


FP: What do you mean by that? 


Downtown: We’re going to have the younger end of the spectrum of advisors at this event. The young advisors who are coming probably are not interested in collecting pens and stress balls.


This is the new live event environment that financial services companies and software companies that cater to our space are going to have to get accustomed to. They’re going to have to do things that are high impact, memorable and visually appealing. 


It’s a new era. We’re past the pandemic. We’re past the exhibit halls and the dreary hotel ballrooms. All of that is over. The future is about experiences. 


FP: Okay. But there’s still going to be swag?


Downtown: I hope so, but by God, it better not be branded thumb drives. I will take a table full of branded thumb drives and dump them into the ocean. 


I’m just kidding. I will not pollute the ocean. 


FP: A lot of advisors enjoy going to conferences in their niche, some even more than attending actual advisor conferences. How is Future Proof addressing all the niches of finance?


Downtown: It’ll be a mass-attended event, but with a lot of niche events happening within it. 


This was Advisor Circle CEO Matt Middleton’s vision from the beginning: There are all these groups that cater to advisors, like trade organizations, custodians and tech firms. Why not just carve out a space for all of these groups at our own event? That way they can have their own onsite mini events. 


It’s also not strictly advisors in attendance.


High net worth investors will be there, plus a lot of people from asset management and fintech. Some people attending just want to be on the cutting edge of what to do with their wealth. 


FP: What’s got you most excited about Future Proof? 


Downtown: It’s got a crossover feel to it. When you get a group of advisors in a room, there’s a lot of groupthink that goes on. We want to shatter that.


It’s high time advisors went out and actually met with their public. 


Future Proof is not just a room with 500 financial advisors in it. We’re encouraging advisors to walk out—literally into the sunshine—and interact with people from technology, people from art and culture and fashion, music and software. 


FP: What types of communities will be created at Future Proof?


Downtown: Let’s say you’re a younger advisor, or a newer advisor. Let’s say you work for a team or you started your own thing or you recently went out on your own. Whatever stage you’re at, you’re going to interact with 10 or 20 people just like you. They’ll be from different parts of the country and different walks of life. They will have been trained at maybe a different type of firm. But you are going to meet people who are in the same situation, facing the same decisions about software and compliance and custodians. 


You’re going to have substantive one-on-one, two-on-one, five-on-one conversations with your peers. They’re all going to be there. They’ll be from all over the country. That’s game changing for a lot of young advisors, especially.


Then the layer above that is a whole group of very experienced, very talented RIA executives, brokerage firm teams and wirehouse teams. They are people that have done this already, successfully, and have a lot of knowledge to impart. 


The layer above that is this opportunity to see what the cutting edge looks like. All of the exhibitors are leaning into the Future Proof theme. Whatever they’re bringing out to show the crowd is whatever their newest stuff is. 


I really want people to go home feeling like they’re going to be a part of the future and they’ve gotten a sneak preview of it. 


FP: It’s hard to imagine, but for advisors who are asking themselves, “Is this conference for me?” How would you answer that question? Why is attending Future Proof going to be worthwhile? 


Downtown: If you see what we’re saying about this event and you’re on the fence, it’s probably not for you. If you want to drink lukewarm stale coffee and sit through another ESG panel sponsored by an ESG mutual fund, you could do that. 


But what we’re going to do is going to change people’s lives. I don’t say that flippantly. Literally my life has been changed by the events I attended.

I was a failed stock broker trying to become a financial advisor. I went to a series of events that were life changing. They changed my life because of the people I met and the inspiration I got from listening to what those people had to say. 


That’s what we’re doing. We’re giving the next generation an opportunity to have their lives changed by in-person experiences and networking. 

So if you’re on the fence, maybe we’ll see you next year. This isn’t for you. But if you see what we’re doing and what we’re talking about and you are immediately excited, then you’re coming. I think that the people who belong there will be there. 

John Swolfs Advisor Circle

JOHN SWOLFS

John Swolfs is the Chief Content Officer at Advisor Circle, a product studio for growth-oriented financial professionals. John is responsible for creating dynamic programs for Advisor Circle’s world-class events which include Future Proof festival and Exchange, the world’s leading ETF event.

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Future Proof is set to bring together the world’s most prominent figures and emerging minds to explore the intersection of money, tech, culture and impact.

BECOME FUTURE PROOF

Future Proof brings together an entirely new community of financial advisors, institutional investors, asset managers, fintech startups, investors, financial creators, activists, artists, musicians and other key stakeholders around an unprecedented experience and agenda.

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Content

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Community

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Attendee Experience

Wheel of Impact

Event attendee enjoying the prize wheel

Future Proof’s Wheel of Impact promotes the power of giving in a fun, dynamic and social way. With a donation of any size, attendees can have the ability to spin the wheel, determining where the donation will go and how it will be used. Land on the “mystery” selection and have a chance to win items, trips and other experiences.

Poppin’ Pitch Lounge

Popcorn lounge set up for photo ops

Nobody likes to be pitched, but the truth is we all need a little help keeping up to speed on our dynamic industry. The What’s Poppin’ Pitch Lounge sets the tone, giving you intimate access to short and punchy demos from the most innovative fintech companies in the world. Grab a bag of popcorn, sit back, relax and absorb the next wave of innovation impacting the world around you.

Future Proof Beach Bash

Surfboards propped up on Huntington Beach

Sunday, September 11, 2022

The Future Proof Beach Bash with the iconic Surf City as the backdrop will be your kickoff to Future Proof. Join your fellow attendees as we watch the sun dip into the Pacific Ocean. Walk the Future Proof Boardwalk, sampling the local cuisine and cocktails as you explore all our festival has to offer, giving you a taste of what you can expect over the coming days.

Future Proof Surf City Crawl

Crowd browsing various kiosks

Monday, September 12, 2022

What good is an event if you don’t experience the local scene? Join the City Crawl and take advantage of two newly added Entertainment Districts complete with amazing local hotspots, including some of the best breweries and eateries in SoCal, all walkable from your hotel and the Future Proof Boardwalk.

Future Proof Closing Night Concert

Concert-goers watching performance

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

We convert the Boardwalk from an interactive learning environment to an immersive art and music experience. The evening is capped off with a concert headlined by one of the most dynamic up and coming artists taking today’s music scene by storm. Stay tuned for updates as we announce performers and more, creating a truly unique experience.

Scoop Ice Cream Parlor & Lounge

Ice cream food truck

Get the latest scoop on pivotal industry topics and current events affecting the wealth space. By leveraging our robust event technology, you’ll have the opportunity to create both peer-led and industry-led roundtable-style discussions. Learn more about the most pressing topics impacting the future of wealth. These hard conversations are made easier as you and your cohorts grab some ice cream and settle in for an informal yet highly engaging conversation.

Health Is Wealth Center

Yoga mats laid out for workout

Physical and mental health is the cornerstone of any successful long-term wealth plan. But for years, our industry has prioritized work over health, leading to unhealthy lifestyles and employee burnout. The Health Is Wealth Center provides a warm and relaxed setting, allowing attendees to come in and recharge, grab a drink from the juice bar and eat healthy snacks. The space will also be home to daily group yoga and fitness classes as well as meditation sessions.

Brewing Lounge

Coffee bar on Huntington Beach

You can’t expand your perspective and think differently if you aren’t exposed to a broad perspective. That’s why our speaker faculty isn’t limited to traditional finance. The Brewing Lounge will bring out-of-industry experts to present their visions for a new world of wealth. To help fuel the conversations, we’ve created a true coffeehouse feel complete with baristas just waiting to pour you the perfect cup of joe.

Social Audio Experiment

Small crowd listening to performer sing

Podcasts are all the rage, as they excite and entertain audiences from afar. Future Proof changes the game, as we invite your favorite podcasters to host their shows live from the festival. Forget passive listening. Future Proof’s Live Podcast sessions allow you to interact directly with your favorite podcast creators as they record live episodes just feet from the Pacific Ocean.

Ocean Stage

Concert happening on Huntington Beach

As the beating heart of the boardwalk, the Ocean stage will feature seating for over 500 and have the look and feel of a concert venue on the beach. The ocean stage will host a range of exciting content from industry-changing keynotes to the closing concert featuring today’s biggest musical acts.

PCH Stage

Event attendees listening to a panel discussion

The Pacific Highway stage is the most versatile stage at Future Proof. With countless setup options, the PCH Stage is your go-to spot for industry insight and innovation, all while staying current with the latest trends in money, culture, tech and impact.

Future Proof Live

Production stage setup

Future Proof Live is our full-production broadcast studio strategically placed at the heart of the Boardwalk. Our very own Future Proof anchors will provide all-day commentary featuring casual speakers and celebrity interviews as well as unexpected guest appearances. Future Proof Live extends our one-of-a-kind experience to a larger audience virtually.

Future Proof Creator Corner

Woman recording a video for social media

rhe Creator Corner is built to support creators, creatives and brands. It’s equipped with a podcast recording studio and first-of-its-kind Collab Lab. The podcast area will afford attendees the ability to record podcast sessions and will feature podcast consultants helping to answer questions of both existing podcast hosts and aspiring creators. The Collab Lab is where asset managers and fintech companies collaborate with leading and emerging finance influencers. Looking for engaging content built for the modern financial professional or investor? We offer high quality video and audio production for all your creative needs.