It’s October once again, which means we’re back to annual conference season. A few members of the team have been dutifully crisscrossing the country for a number of events—some traditional, some new. And, of course, a number of us will be in Nashville for the MBA Annual shortly.
I’ve written about conferences before. And I still believe people go to live industry events for a number of reasons, including networking, learning, selling, and partying. So most associations and publications in the mortgage industry continue to go with what has always worked for them. I don’t blame them.
Yet, the team did attend a conference recently that did a few things a little differently. Kudos to Housing Wire on its 2022 Annual, which just happened a couple of weeks ago.
For starters, while many of the industry’s traditional events tend to focus their content on operational perspectives (other than the specialty shows for tech or compliance), the Housing Wire Annual 2022 had quite a bit of content directed toward what lenders would consider vendors. The sessions were quite focused, and while we’d love to say there were no catch phrases, buzz words or fluff, there was certainly a lot less of it. We were particularly impressed with some of the content going into topics like DEI, which sometimes seems reserved for specialty events or webinars (or podcasts).
One of the LodeStar directors was struck by a session comprised of a conversation with several successful women leaders in the industry. Of particular note was the question “What has success cost you?” It was an unusually powerful moment for a mortgage industry conference.
Another unusual element of this show was the active engagement with the attendees and exhibitors/sponsors by what seemed like the majority of the Housing Wire staff. Yes, at some shows, the editors tend to be consumed by covering the content while the execs are in endless meetings. We don’t fault them. Other entities will designate a few people to shake hands with the exhibitors. And a few—well, let’s just say you won’t readily locate anyone working for the host association. So it was nice to get to meet the editors and reporters who deliver the Housing Wire content every day, as well as some of the people in the C-Suite as well. And they didn’t just make a quick tour of the exhibit hall before fleeing to meetings. They sat with a good number of people and had some great conversations.
One final observation. I’m told that the tone at the Housing Wire Annual was a little unusual. Many of the events we’ve been to in the past year have been a mix of grim determination or gloom. This was different. The prevailing sentiment for the HousingWire event was that, yes, the next year will be difficult. However, it will be one of very real change. It almost felt like, in some ways, the people at this event were the ones planning to survive and maybe even grow.
Again, I’m not suggesting the traditional conferences have it all wrong. But it was an interesting contrast to see how HousingWire did it. By the time you read this, we’ll either be at MBA Annual in Nashville, or have just returned. We’re excited to see a city like Nashville as the host. That’s a host site we don’t often see in this space. And I’ll be curious to experience the industry vibe as to how things are going, and how they might change.
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