Why does FinCon 2018 matter? Let’s start from the beginning… Phil Taylor dreamed of being a blogger, not a convention director. But one thing quite literally led to another, and now he runs FinCon, a huge annual gathering of the nation’s foremost financial experts.
It began in 2007, when Taylor launched PT Money, a blog to share his ups and downs with money and debt.
“As part of starting the blog, I started interacting with other financial bloggers in forums and at events,” he recalls. “I found myself wanting to spend most of my time hanging out with them and talking shop. So I decided to take it to the next level. That was the genesis of FinCon.”
What Taylor started as an intimate gathering has grown into the biggest event of its kind. Now in its eighth year, FinCon 2018 will bring 2,000 people to Orlando this weekend. As he was frantically nailing down the last details, Taylor took a few minutes to speak with Debt.com…
Q. Is FinCon’s growth due to Americans becoming LESS smart with their money? In other words, is FinCon growing because Americans need more money help than ever before?
A. That’s a challenging question. It’s hard for me to tie the success of our community and our conference to any sort of larger success for Americans and their money.
Anecdotally, heck yeah.
Can you give us some anecdotes?
There are tons of stories of people moving forward with their finances. We hear from our readers, listeners, and followers all the time. We’re pulling back the curtains, we’re breaking down the taboo of talking about your money. So to me, we have had a net positive effect on society. Is this enough to push back on a rising tide of debt out there or overall financial illiteracy out there? I’m not sure. I’m just glad to be one of the good guys.
How do the “good guys” at FinCon 2018 help people?
Americans are managing more of their money themselves. In the past, there was the perception that there were financial gatekeepers, advisors, or “smart money” people that you needed to turn everything over to – and turn a blind eye.
Nowadays, relationships are different. The people’s relationships with financial advisors are changing. Financial advice from employers and 401(k)s are going away for many people, too.
Bottom line is, people need to start handling their money more and taking ownership of it more. I think people are realizing that.
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How has FinCon evolved to help those people?
At first, the financial media industry tried to solve the issue with general personal finance advice. That can only go so far. That can only resonate with so many people who are really seeking that kind of information.
For financial information to be the most effective, it has to be attached to a story. Personal finance stories are the most effective in terms of changing people’s behavior and mindsets around their money. This is why financial blogs have become the creation-engine or favored form of sharing financial information. On a blog, people can actually see people who for the first time are paying off their debts, or saving money, or getting aggressive about what kind of income they want to make, or sharing stories about financial mistakes.
So what happened to those “gatekeepers”?
There’s no longer financial advice gatekeepers, and there are no longer financial media gatekeepers. People are taking ownership and managing their money and finances more, and the internet is allowing people to share the results of that. As long as these two factors exist, FinCon will continue to grow.
So FinCon is the mortal enemy of the gatekeepers?
We’re combating the idea that you need to speak with a specific financial expert or you need to speak with a particular financial institution or have some talking head tell you what you need to do with your money. I champion those people who are tearing down that message, and I work to democratize financial education and financial success and independence.
I think our community is a result of people having a choice. Before, if people were having financial problems they had a lack of choice. Now, they have more choice and I see that as a good thing.
What kind of financial information are people seeking out the most?
There will always be those key life milestones that draw people to seek out financial advice like graduating or buying a home. I think this will continue to be the case. But I think more and more with the younger generations, exiting the traditional script of financial advancement has more appeal and is more on display.
Now you can see people on Instagram or on YouTube talk about how they created financial freedom for themselves and how that has allowed them to travel more and to stay at home with their newborn or start a business on the side. It’s stories about these life results that have the biggest impact on people.
So on top of the traditional moments in life like graduating college, getting married, buying your first house where people typically enter into financial conversations and seek out information, now people are more and more engaging in these non-traditional types of conversations about money. Now people are seeing people online who are creating a different financial pathway.
Is it just financial experts who come to FinCon?
We’ve been lucky enough to grow at least 20 percent each year, and we’ll do that again this year. One reason: We’ve had a lot of the general public start coming to the conference.
They’re not necessarily writers or creators, but people who are just attracted to this community. I have this vision of FinCon becoming the Comic-Con of money one day. It could be a week of celebrating financial independence and financial freedom and moving toward that positive place in your life.
Those are the options for us in the future. I am so grateful to be serving this community because they are such great people who are fighting the good fight against the great beast of financial illiteracy. When they get together it’s a special group of people who all collaborate and come together as one. It’s an honor to put the conference on this year, and I’m pumped for it.
So many experts from financial blogs will attend FinCon 2018. Check out some of our favorite financial blogs and money management tools on Debt.com’s Top Money Management Resources.