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Observations From CPFC12

What a conference!  I now “get” why our American blogger friends rave so much about FINCON.  CPFC12, held in Toronto Ontario, was a smashing success thanks to Preet Banerjee and Krystal Yee who organized this awesome conference.  The facilities, speakers, panels and events were all fantastic.  I have a number of observations I want to share with SPF readers.  This was a conference first and foremost about Finance.  Sure, blogging was a topic as well but it was not the sole focus.  People in Canada have a true need to understand more about their personal finances and it was great to see some of the best minds on the topic (Canadian) come together in one spot.

I need to put a shout out to my pal Saving Mentor who ultimately convinced me that I needed to attend to talk up some ideas with some folks.   Thanks SM.

So what did I observe?  What did I learn?  I’ll break it down in 3 sections: Finance, Blogging, Personal

Finance

Hotels in Toronto are bloody expensive.  As I was on the fence about attending until about two weeks ago I hadn’t booked a room.  Priceline and other similar sites weren’t helping.  It isn’t cheap to attend a conference in a major centre but after attending I truly believe that every penny spent was worth it.  Here is expense breakdown:

  • Accommodations (Delta Chelsea 2 nights): $467.67
  • Travel to/from Toronto (Greyhound bus): $34.64  (yes I used mass transit instead of driving solo)
  • Travel in Toronto (taxi): $37.00 (suffering from a lower body injury – walking was out)
  • Beverages (2 pints): $20 (really GTA? $9/pint?)
  • Food: $29  (a lot comped by the conference)
Total expenses: $588.31

Insurance isn’t as complicated as you might think.  At least it isn’t if a guy like Glenn Cooke is explaining it to you.  Armed with many, many years of experience Glenn walked the attendees through different options available to folks in Ontario and Canada.  I didn’t get a chance to meet Glenn – meant to today but something came up and I had to miss the morning sessions.

Learned some scary statistics ….

48% of Canadians don’t save money.  This has to change or this country will be in a world of hurt.

54% of Canadians don’t budget regularly and 24% don’t budget at all.

To wrap up, I discussed 2 business ideas with a number of folks and the feedback was extremely positive.  Watch for some SPF announcements in the coming weeks.

Next I will share some blogging observations. But where to start, where to start.

Preet Banerjee is a super star.  I’ve been interacting with Preet for the past few years when we learned we had a common friend (Ian H.).  How did they meet?  When Preet was doing an undergrad in neuroscience.  NEUROSCIENCE.  Oh, and he races cars.  And has an endless well of personal finance / investing knowledge and experience.  And he’s a well known figure in the Canadian media.

Oh ya, he  also delivers a KILLER presentation less than 24 hours old about dealing with media and delivers it flawlessly.  Did folks watching the #CPFC12 hashtag on Twitter go uber quiet around 4pm on Saturday?  Blame Preet.  The room was mesmerized.  Glad to finally meet him and consider him a friend now – as I told him weeks back: any friend of Ian H. has to be kick-ass and Preet did not fail my expectations.

BIG TIME, SUCCESSFUL bloggers like Kerry @ Squawkfox, Canadian Capitalist and FrugalTrader @ Million Dollar Journey are super nice, totally approachable people.  Any blogger might feel intimidated approaching these industry giants but they have absolutely NO REASON to!  Always open to sharing and discussing ideas these are some of the most down to earth folks I have met in a long time.  I was especially keen to meet Frugal Trader as he has been a mentor of sorts to me as I have blogged.  My favourite moment of the conference was when the mob around FT was down to 1 other blogger and I got the nerve to go say hi to him.

SPF (extends hand to shake): Hi, you are Frugal Trader, right?

FT: Yes and you …

SPF: I am Simon

<FT then glances as my conference badge which has our site URL on it>

FT: SIMON!! I didn’t know you were here! Hi! <stands and shakes my hand>

This sums up how these big time bloggers make you feel.  One of my most favourite bloggers made me feel like a total rock super star myself.

So Nelson Smith, that guy who used to write for our site, is pretty much the same guy in person as he is on his site.  Refreshing he isn’t fake or some Internet tough guy.  Funny for sure.  And he likes baseball.  I do too.  Brad Lincoln is so getting dropped after 8 ER in “relief” this week. And I had to include him in this CJ, just cuz.

I had the pleasure of talking to a few people a number of times, which was great.  New blogger Avrex Money was cool to talk to and Cents of a Country Girl was happy to hear me ramble about this, that and blogging.  Steve Z is a super nice guy.

I didn’t think it possible, but My Own Advisor is even nicer in person than online.  I can most definitely envision working with him down the line and I am very happy to have made his acquaintance.  Having supper with MOA, Frugal Trader and Kanwal was pretty awesome.  Jim Yih is as happy in person as shown in the picture of him on his site – we had a very nice conversation Friday night. Finally met Marissa who I know i’ll be pals with for a good long time … birds of a feather.

One of the reasons I went to CPFC12 was to vet a few blogging business ideas by some folks.  I was a bit worried about the response I would get but man, was I off base.  Folks seem to love both ideas!  On one idea Marissa and Mark both endorsed the idea wholly with “You should do that, now”.   On the other idea FrugalTrader, pretty much everyone I spoke to, agreed that the business idea was strong.  Time to put my thinking cap on!

So blogging observations continued!

It was very apparent that bloggers don’t agree on everything – especially site monetization.  I understand all of the points of view that were discussed.  Ultimately each site must do what they feel OK with.

The spirit of blogging giving selflessly is still out there.  Inspired by the awesome presentations by Kerry and Preet I offered up as much advice as I could to folks who wanted to learn more about the technical and business side of blogging.  So many folks have helped me over the past couple years it really does feel good to pass on knowledge.

Last week I was able to write a few articles and it felt great.  I have come out of CPFC12 with renewed enthusiasm to make sure our voice is loud and clear here @ SPF, to connect more with fellow bloggers and to engage readers at every opportunity.  Couple this with some promising business ideas – the $600 or so I paid to attend CPFC12 was well worth it.

Personal Observations

A lot of this will be about myself.  So what did I learn?

  • I am really not a fan of being away from Mrs. & Lil’ SPF
  • I really want to do all I can to make my families life better even if it means spending a few nights apart
  • I am glad I was able to attend the social events solo and not freak out.  I am naturally quite introverted so it was a challenge to not hole up in my hotel room.
  • I need to act in order to create opportunity
  • Mrs. SPF is so key to keeping my life organized.  On her watch I don’t sleep in, stay awake until 2am, that I eat properly and regularly, avoid arriving late or have that 4th pint.  Next year I hope she and Lil’ SPF can join me at CPFC13!
I am sure I missed things.  Simply put I wanted to get my thoughts into the written word as quickly as possible so I wouldn’t have my kid-at-Christmas-like-glee dulled.  I look forward to reading comments from other CPFC12 attendees and SPF readers thoughts about this conference.
What were some of your favourite CPFC12 moments?  Will you consider attending next year?

 

42 thoughts on “Observations From CPFC12

    1. Marissa, you are a conference machine! First Fincon and now CPC! Can you compare and contrast the two?

      Sounds like you had a lot of fun Simon! How much were the conference tickets? Hotels really are expensive in Toronto!

      Best, Sam

        1. $50 ain’t bad at all! Fincon is $100 early bird and $150 late bird.

          BTW, what do you think are the main differences between US bloggers and Canadian bloggers… can be in terms of subject matter (401k vs RESP?, styles, etc).

          Thx

          1. Good question Sam. Taxes is a big difference. I also find that U.S. sites focus on “events” (e.g. Black Friday) and S.M.A.R.T goals around the New Year. I am not sure CDN blgogers write that much about our Boxing Day (week) sales. I’d need to give this some more thought.

            One thing I did hear from folks who attended both sessions is that FINCON has a monetization focus for blogging. This conference had a single session on the topic but truly tried to stay focus on personal finance as a primary theme.

  1. Couldn’t agree with you more, Simon!! Everyone at CPFC12 was absolutely fantastic to meet and so willing to offer up suggestions and information about the ‘biz’. I think the presentation from Kerry K. Taylor of http://www.squawkfox.com (her first one ever) was one of my highlights. As for CPFC13 – as soon as I find out where and when it’s happening, I’m booking my spot right away. It was great meeting you and everyone else. Cheers!

  2. Sounds like a great and productive time! Attending conferences can really light a fire under you. Felt like you after BlogWorld. Nice move to get your thoughts down so you can refer to it in the future. Didn’t think you were introverted, but glad you powered through it. Cool story about feeling like a rock star with a rock star. Good luck with your future projects!

  3. Great read Simon! I’m going to be working on my post about highlights from CPFC12 tonight.

    It was a great time and I had a great weekend. I’m still smiling. It was a pleasure to meet you and I enjoyed talking with you about your plans. I look forward to talking more about them in the weeks and months to follow.

    I definitely plan on attending next year. How could I not enjoy having another pint and talking personal finance, investing and growing a small business with you?

    Cheers,
    Mark

  4. Thanks for the shout out Simon, I really appreciate that. I think I must have been the one blogger who had the most remorse about missing CPFC12 as evidenced by my uncontrollable repeated tweets lamenting the fact that I couldn’t make it!

    I know you’re going to be successful with your new business ventures because you apply a level of passion and dedication to your work and your blog like no one else I’ve ever seen. You literally took this blog from nothing into something huge practically overnight. You’re a man of action for sure!

    I think I may have had something to do with your late nights while at the conference because I couldn’t stop pestering you in chat for details!

    Really wish I was able to connect with you and all the other great people you met this weekend. Look for me next year everyone – circumstances should allow me to go this time!

  5. I’m so jealous! Reading about these FinCons is absolutely killing me. I think we’re going to try and do the doubleheader next year. Hey, if I have to file taxes in both the USA and Canada, I might as well chat with both sets of bloggers right?

    I’m very interested to see what you have up your sleeve going forward on the business front. No doubt it will be something I’ll be begging to get in on.

    Any word on where the Canadian conference might be next year?

    1. Preet asked where folks wanted it. A show of hands indicated that most people there were from the GTA but I think it is recognized there were many non-Ontario bloggers unable to make it.
      These conferences can be heavily deducted come tax time, which is nice.
      Why do you have to pay U.S. taxes?

      1. Yah, that tax deduction is certainly nice. I think I now have my heart set on doing both FinCon’s. The more I think about it the more I realize we’re missing out on a lot by not meeting you all in person! The GTA would be alright again, especially since that is where the organizers live. Having it in Sask, or Winnipeg would probably be cheaper and central, but with so many people being within driving distance it’ll probably be there again.

        For the saga that is my USA tax story, check this out: http://canadianfinanceblog.com/dual-citizens-and-double-taxation/

        It ends with the IRS paying me $400 and me still feeling pissed off at the whole thing haha.

  6. Hey Simon,

    Given all the thought you’ve been putting into your ideas, it sounds like it was definitely the right decision to go. From talking online I wouldn’t have penned you as the introverted type. I missed meeting up with you guys, and I’ll definitely have to try to make it next time. ;)

    1. I am very comfortable online having been “online” since 1987/88. Social scenarios in person when I don’t have a “wingman” or Mrs. SPF is not present is a whole different bunch of beans.

  7. Great recap, Simon! It was a pretty flawless weekend, in my mind. I didn’t get to meet everyone I wanted to chat with, but, then again, I wasn’t able to attend all the socials. A larger room could help, but it was such a great time.

  8. Thanks for the kind words. I’m sorry we didn’t get to meet, I would’ve enjoyed that. It was so jam packed with meeting and networking, there was easily a dozen folks that I would’ve liked to spend an hour with and never even got a chance to say hi to.

    I particularly liked your point about business ideas. The networking opportunity at this conference was outstanding.

    You also struck a chord with your comment about myownadvisor.ca. There’s some people who make everyone feel positive just by being around them, and myownadvisor.ca is one of those rare ones.

    Unfortunately I didn’t stay for the networking event on Sat. night, I drove home. Would’ve like to have stayed but I balked at a $400 hotel room when I pay a lot less than that for hotels in downtown Manhattan. So why at a conference full of PF bloggers were there no posts about the cheapest place to stay? :).

    1. There were no cheap places to stay unless you booked months out. Well, unless you are willing to sleep @ the airport where a room for $100 a night could be found. There were a number of large events in Toronto (UFC being the biggest) so hotels weren’t discounting their rooms too much.

  9. It was so fun to hang out with my fellow bloggers on the weekend and I missed you on Sunday morning.

    Was nice to finally meet with you and like you said everyone was really easy going and nice to speak with.

    I actually hope that they keep the numbers around the same (any number over 100 and it is more difficult to meet people).

  10. I am glad you had such a positive experience. I am also glad to hear all of those nice things about our fellow Canuck bloggers. It is great to hear they are so down to earth. Now I have to go this conference and meet people. I feel sad I missed it.

    I really hope your new ideas take off with a bang. You are very intelligent and I think you will make them a success. Best of luck and let me know if you need any help.

    1. Thanks Miss T! A number of folks did ask if you were going to attend. Do try for next year – well worth it, plus, you and I have to meet already! (Mrs. SPF too – she wants to come next year – it will be easier to travel w/ Lil’ SPF)

  11. Sounds like a good time. Though I’m American and living in the US, I do have a few relatives in Toronto. Maybe if there’s another one, I could make a trip out of it, see them, and qualify to attend CPFC13 as I’m related to a few Canadians :)

    I did attend FinCon11 (not this year though, due to family committments), so I know that these events can be great. Hope to make next year’s conference.

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