After 30 years in the industry (I began my planning career at Deloitte in 1985), I’d mostly lost interest in industry conferences. Then, at the behest of some colleagues, I took a chance on Retreat in 2015. With the benefit of hindsight, I deeply wish I had been attending annually for the past 25 years.

I feel blessed to have this career in financial planning. Previously, I’ve had jobs that brought me down, but for the past 33 years, I’ve had one that I continue to find stimulating, enriching and fulfilling. The characteristics that delight me about my professional work are also those that keep me coming back to Retreat year after year.

I’d been told Retreat was “different” than other conferences. And it is. The agendas are deep and rich, as are the relationships. Each year, I’ve been challenged to wrestle with new perspectives and to stretch my understanding of what our profession is and can be. Throughout each day, and well into the nights, I’ve enjoyed developing new friendships and deepening old ones. I’ve found my tribe at Retreat.

There are three reasons that Retreat stands out for me. First, the ambiance of the conference requires that attendees really “show up” as individuals and interact with one another in genuine and meaningful ways—and they do. Newcomers are heartily welcomed and openness to learning is required. Deep friendships and deep learning occur in this environment. Second, the agendas provide thought-provoking speakers addressing topics—some soft, others technical–that are challenging and frequently provocative yet always stimulating. Lastly, the scale of Retreat is big enough that I meet lots of new attendees each year, but intimate enough to allow attendees to really interact with one another.

This year will be my fifth Retreat, and I hope you’ll join us in La Jolla and bring your story about your career and your enthusiasm for the profession.