Return To Blog

Retreat Reunion: Notes from One Generation of Financial Planners to the Next

Richard Wagner and FPA Sages Gather and Share their Wisdom

August 25, 2016

Early this August, I traveled to picturesque Estes Park, Colorado, where I was lucky enough to be assigned the role of ‘note taker’ for the first Financial Planning Association Retreat Reunion – a conference for the select few who founded what is now known as FPA Retreat.
Natalie & Richard Wagner, Retreat Reunion, 2016
The Reunion was organized by Ben Coombs and Houston Scrudder and attended by such financial planning sages as John Longhorn, Eileen Sharkey, and Dick Wagner.  The purpose was manifold: to pool together their wisdom regarding the art of financial planning; to explore successful succession; to investigate what it means to ‘finish well’, and the responsibility of the financial planning profession in supporting the public in doing so; to discuss how to leave an intentional and powerful legacy; and, of course, to reconnect with each other.

The atmosphere was energized with corny puns and jokes about growing older.  Laughter surrounded stories of the early Retreat years.  I heard much about the ‘camping’ ambiance, beer-infused late nights, training for triathlons, and some things better off staying private.  I was immediately impressed by their clear bond, by the genuine smiles and the dancing eyes around the room.  i was impressed, but certainly not surprised.  I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing the joy and genuine goodwill in financial planners all my life.  I expect nothing less.  I was not to be let down.

Profound knowledge and wisdom have been cultivated over the years and among the wise elders gathered in Estes.  A powerful theme over the two-day conference was the drive and responsibility to retain and continue to evolve their work.  I am currently chair of the local NexGen, a sub-community of FPA for younger professionals.   My decided role was to bring these lessons to the NexGen community – to bridge the legacy of the previous generation with the next generation.Estes Park
Estes Park, view from my room

I was a good choice, considering my first conference of this sort was in ’97 when I was only 16 years old.  My father, Richard (Dick) Wagner was hosting the NAPFA Advanced Planners Conference in Keystone, Colorado.  My job was to check people in and hand out name tags.  Like this time in Estes, my simple support role offered a rare opportunity to witness something great.  What I remember being struck by most was a positive unity of purpose – a connected focus with deeply simple and earnestly good intentions.

This doesn’t mean everyone agreed on everything.  In fact, I’m sure they didn’t.  What it means is that they all agreed on something and that something is what drove each one of them to come together.  Namely, the power and need for money to do great good, and the profound role the Financial Planning profession has in making that happen.

Most recently, I have been attending the NexGen annual Gathering.  With pride, I’ll share my observation that this younger community of planners holds the same gumption that I was privy to in both Keystone and Estes.  It is with this purity of heart and dedication that the new leaders hold and evolve this mission.
Read more about the Retreat Reunion in the Journal of Financial Planning®