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ADISA Executive Director Previews Association’s Annual Conference

The DI Wire had a chance to sit down with John Harrison, executive director of the Alternative and Direct Investment Securities Association, ahead of the organization's 2022 Annual Conference & Trade Show held on October 10-12 at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

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The DI Wire had a chance to sit down with John Harrison, executive director of the Alternative and Direct Investment Securities Association, ahead of the organization’s 2022 Annual Conference & Trade Show on October 10-12 at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Harrison discusses what attendees can expect from the three-day educational and networking event, including the latest information on alternative investments, ESG, crypto, and personal technology, as well as compliance and regulatory matters that could affect the space, and more.

Why should sponsors, affiliates, RIA, broker-dealers and other industry experts attend this year?

For knowledge and networking. The ADISA Annual Conference and Trade Show is the largest annual alternative investments conference, and each year we place an emphasis on creating a high-quality agenda that covers the most relevant and impactful educational topics in the alternatives space. Conference attendees will not only learn the latest on different investment products, but they will also receive timely regulatory updates, valuable compliance information and much more.

Our conference attendance is very balanced, representing all sponsors, service providers and funding sources. As such, our speakers come from a variety of backgrounds and agencies in the space and all offer a different perspective on alternative investments. Ours is not a pay-to-play speaking platform; most of our speakers come from the experts not directly involved with product sales. This may help to provide attendees with access to new ideas and views that they may not have previously been privy to. Continuing education credits will also be available. 

Finally, attendees will have ample networking time as well. This can be a great time to catch up with old colleagues and to make new connections. So many partnerships, offerings and friendships have started at ADISA that many people say that this is their favorite part of the conference!

Last year over 1,000 attendees joined the conference. Do you expect that this year’s conference will be even larger?

Yes. After the events of the last couple of years, many people are eager to get back out into the world and participate in events, and, post-pandemic, we have experienced a great response to our in-person events. The alternative investment industry is, at its core, a social industry built around travel and connections where people can work together.

Our attendance levels are still growing daily. We do expect this to be our largest event yet, and we are thrilled that we can continue to host our record-setting conference. We have three days of timely and essential educational information that we believe will not only enrich the businesses of those who attend, but can help to elevate the industry as a whole.

Certain topics, such as ESG, Crypto and personal technology, have been very popular in the alternative space recently. How will the conference address these and other timely concerns that those in our industry may have?

We pride ourselves on being able to offer sessions that are pertinent to those in the industry right now, and this year is no different. We are offering panels, presentation and fireside chats on the trends and predictions on ESG, as well as how to discuss ESG with your clients. Other speakers will discuss energy investing and impact investing.

Additionally, we will have a personal technology workshop and speakers discussing the benefits and challenges of personal tech. We will also be offering social media and LinkedIn training for those interested. Other speakers will discuss cryptocurrency and its place in the current regulatory environment.

Our industry is evolving at a rapid pace, and, at ADISA, we believe it is part of our responsibility to provide those in the alternative investment space access to the education needed to evolve with it. That’s why every year we bring in the best speakers who can help to teach all of us about the changes in the space.

What kind of feedback have you received about the concerns or challenges from the industry?

With our industry evolving so quickly, regulations also continue to evolve. One such area is the proposed new regulations by NASAA aimed at concentration limits for non-traded REITs. Of course, we believe that investors should be protected and have as much relevant information as possible so that they may make a more-informed choice, but, for many of these individuals, non-traded REITs are one of the very few ways that they may gain access to the potential benefits of commercial real estate. We at ADISA met with NASAA recently, and we are currently compiling more information so that NASAA may have a better understanding of how these funds may help so many investors reach their financial goals.

Another area that we’ve received feedback on is the SEC and their recent shift in focus regarding Regulation Best Interest enforcement to “making a recommendation.” The rules and regulations of the SEC can be challenging for even the most experienced in our industry, so we want to be able to provide our attendees the latest information possible.

This indication by the SEC to move beyond basic compliance and disclosure obligations to actually scrutinize the placement, risk and other factors of the fund, could affect broker-dealers, registered representatives and investors. Again, this is why it’s crucial for the leaders in our industry to attend the conference – we always strive to offer the latest in compliance and regulatory education, in addition to all of our other offerings.

Given recent inflation, rising interest rates and other post-pandemic concerns, do you believe that it is a good time for alternatives? Why or why not?

Of course. I believe that any time may be a good time for alternatives, depending on an investor’s goals. Different alternative investments offer different potential benefits to different types of investors.

In certain areas of real estate, investors may have better opportunities for income and growth than before. Other areas may offer investors potential hedges against inflation and diversity options.

That’s what I think is so great about alternatives – there are a variety of options that may appeal to so many different types of investors. Of course, each potential investor should do their own due diligence and consult with a financial advisor to find which opportunity may be right for them.

Since 2012, John Harrison has been the executive director of ADISA, an organization that represents the non-traded alternative investment industry. Harrison has been in association management for more than 25 years and has served in industry, education, and health associations in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East. He was a cum laude graduate in biology and psychology from the University of Georgia and earned an MBA and a doctorate in business administration from Georgia State University. 

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