I recently attended the Financial Planning Association annual convention and exposition in Philadelphia. It's the largest gathering of financial planners in the world. More than 3,000 people attended.

As a result, I gorged myself silly with all kinds of information relating to financial planning and investment services as well as Philadelphia cheese steaks, hoagies, Basset's ice cream, and soft pretzels with yellow mustard…all staples of what was haute cuisine when I grew up. You see, I was born, raised, and educated in Philadelphia, so I know from good hoagies.

Of course, having been away from the City of Brotherly Love for the past 42 years didn't help my digestive tract too much. By the fourth morning, it was having its way with me. Consider this a word of caution to non-Philadelphians or those who have been away just much too long.

As to the conference itself, it is always a treat to see and talk with many of the top financial planners around. More than 23 countries were represented at this conference. Hey, I even saw my own financial planner who was lecturing. I think I would have been a bit uneasy if he were in the audience taking a Financial Planning 101 course.

With all of the seminars given, there was one constant theme that hummed its way through the four days: the economy and how to handle the clients.

Most financial planners I spoke to were seeking advice as to the best approach to keeping clients calm, especially in today's bombastic economy. If anything, they were asking one another what they were doing on a daily basis.

This all dovetailed with the some of the basic topics of those who did address the general sessions on handling the economy and whether stocks were still right for the long run.

Most took the position that asset allocation was far and away the best means of creating any portfolio, that stocks still were the best bet over the long haul, and that there was optimism in the economy bouncing back. So obviously there was considerable chatter about how to keep the clients onboard until the economy did turn itself around and especially in managing client expectations. There was one particular seminar about strategies for retaining clients that was very well attended. One CFP felt that most clients were less concerned about the scandals rocketing through the country than the money they had already lost in the stock market. So, diversification, as usual, was a vital component.

All in all, a most worthwhile conference with considerable fresh thinking.

And nothing tops the end of a day's work with a hot "cheese steak wit." That means with onions and of course, let's glop on the Cheez Whiz. I already hear the arteries popping and the pressure rising but boy does it taste good.

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