Home Alts News The DI Wire Q&A with ADISA Executive Director John Harrison

The DI Wire Q&A with ADISA Executive Director John Harrison

The Alternative Direct Investment Securities Association (ADISA) will host its annual conference at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on October 14-16, which is expected to draw its largest audience to date. The DI Wire had a chance to sit down with ADISA’s John Harrison to discuss what to expect at this year's event, including legislative/regulatory and technology updates, buzz worthy investment products, and keynote speaker Roger Staubach.


ADISA’s 2019 Annual Conference & Trade Show starts next week in Las Vegas. What can the non-traded alternative investments industry expect from this year’s event?

As we prepared for this year’s Annual Conference, our focus was quickly placed on organizing an agenda that would include the most impactful educational topics surrounding alternative investments. We definitely prioritized quality over quantity.

As a result, this year’s conference will have one of the strongest programs that we’ve ever produced. With what is expected to be our largest audience to date, our attendance levels are still growing daily. We always seek to provide education that will enrich the businesses of members in the non-traded alternative investment space, as well as help grow the entire industry.

This year’s program welcomes speakers from FINRA, the U.S. Treasury Department, NASAA, and many experts who approach alternative investments from a different perspective. We’ll kick it off with ADISA’s Women’s Initiative Reception and Lunch, where a panel will discuss building a solid career foundation for the present and the future.

The latest conference registration data show that nearly 50 percent of conference attendees are wealth advisors. Is there anything new for this audience at the event?

Wealth advisors represent a significant audience in the non-traded alternative investment space, and we are so pleased to welcome this large cohort to our conference. The program will offer a roundtable format for broker-dealers and registered representatives, as well as RIAs and family offices. Each roundtable will serve as a voice for their respective communities and provide an agenda customized to their specific needs. There will also be a session, The Evolution of Broker-Dealers, which will review the changes over the last few years and the pressures that independent broker-dealers now face.

Beyond our educational sessions, wealth advisors will also benefit from visiting with approximately 80 exhibitors, and the group of product sponsors who will all gather at the conference. Advisors will be able to conduct due diligence and sharpen their knowledge of different products, and consult experts ready to answer any questions they might have. Product sponsors of all varieties are registered to attend and meet with wealth advisors face-to-face.

The topic of straight-through processing and other technology platforms has frequently emerged these past few months – what’s on the agenda for attendees to learn about the technology side of the business?

Technology has increasingly become more ingrained in the alternative investment space through a variety of ways. To this extent, ADISA’s Annual Conference will cover technology both from the perspective of different players in the space, and the solutions they provide for different product types.

In one session, blockchain firms will discuss how technology impacts the sale and tracking of alternative investments overall, with a special focus on Reg A and crowdfunding offerings. An outlook on where technology is taking the alternative industry will also be covered.

Preferred stock offerings, which have grown in the alternative investment space over the past few years, have also been affected by these technological advances. Experts will delve into the use of technology throughout the trade order process for this product.

Additionally, one of the most talked about roles of technology is in the sales process. Often, it’s misunderstood that most strategies can’t be used in the space. A group of presenters from the marketing, public relations and legal side of things will provide a discussion on the spectrum of products ready to help members of the industry grow their business.

To round out the program, the RIA/family office roundtable and our session, Stepping into an RIA’s Shoes, will each discuss the role that technology can play specifically for RIAs and wealth advisors.

Many sponsors and industry affiliates have begun to offer straight-through processing tools to ease the complicated nature of transactions and speed up the processing time. It’s a welcome addition to the space and we look forward to hearing more of the buzz about it inside the conference exhibit hall.

The conference is hosted in Nevada, a state with its own proposed fiduciary regulation. What sort of legislative and regulatory update will the Annual Conference provide?

Over the course of this year, fiduciary proposals surrounding regulations at the state level in Nevada, Massachusetts and New Jersey have all heated up. ADISA closely monitors each state’s activity, submits comment letters, and attends policy discussions, as often as possible for its membership.

At this year’s Annual Conference, we welcome Joe Price from FINRA and Lisa Hopkins, the president-elect of NASAA, to our general session that will provide the latest news from national and state capitals on issues affecting alternative investments. Thomas Rosenfield from ADISA’s government relations team, will moderate the panel.

We are very excited to welcome Daniel Kowalski, counselor to the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, to present the most recent legislative and regulatory updates, in a discussion with Larry Sullivan, ADISA’s president-elect, and Darry Steinhause, a member of ADISA’s legal counsel.

A roundtable is also scheduled to review the many regulatory changes and proposals affecting the securities industry.

Which alternative investment products have received a lot of buzz this year?

Opportunity zone funds, preferred stock offerings, non-traded REITs and Section 1031 exchanges continue to dominate the news in the alternative investment space. Opportunity zone funds are now showing movement, and we are all excited to see what’s in store for this new product. Clients who want to get the full tax benefit of opportunity zones must invest by the end of 2019, which is coming up quickly.

Preferred stock offerings hit the market a few years back and have remained at a steady pace ever since. Non-traded REITs have made a comeback in the last 12 – 18 months, with daily NAV REITs representing approximately 52 percent of alternative investment sales in the first six months of the year.

In July, Section 1031 exchanges were predicted to raise approximately $3 billion in equity by year-end 2019, an approximately $500 million increase over 2018 sales. On the first night of the conference, new research and data will be presented about different products in the industry, and I think I speak for everyone when I say I’m looking forward to seeing where everything stands.

Roger Staubach is a name known by many households for his legendary football career, but he is among the legends in real estate as well. What will he present as the keynote address?

We are thrilled to welcome Roger Staubach for the keynote address, where he will discuss teams, strategy and success. Staubach has worked hard for success throughout his life, starting at a young age with an illustrious football career, which at the collegiate level included winning the Heisman trophy.

He then delayed his professional debut for four years to serve the United States Navy, during which he volunteered for a tour of duty in Vietnam. He joined the Dallas Cowboys as a 27-year-old rookie in 1969, ultimately winning two Super Bowls as well as the MVP title in Super Bowl VI.

After Staubach hung up his cleats, he became a commercial real estate legend by founding the Staubach Company and later selling it to Jones Lang LaSalle for more than $600 million. We are very much looking forward to the insight he will provide.

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