After a year like 2020, it was impossible to predict what a return to in-person events would look like in 2021. The Club Summit was HFTP’s opening number, a sold-out event in stunning southern Florida that promised two days of advanced-level, club-focused education and networking to its 146 registered attendees.
Club Summit attendee and HFTP Global Board Director Kelly Brennan gives us an inside look at the event this year, including her thoughts on the return to in-person professional development, her favorite education session, and a particularly memorable moment.
First impressions: What the return to in-person education and networking was like.
I was excited to hear that the HFTP Club Summit was going to be in-person this year, but hesitant about gathering in a conference room for two days. The big day arrived, and we began check-in at the Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale – people looking at each other like, do we shake hands? Wear a mask? What is the protocol? The staff at HFTP had figured it out. They came up with three different bracelets you could wear to share with others your social comfort: red meant “no contact please;” green meant “hugs and handshakes;” and yellow meant “elbows only.” It seemed that 90 percent of the people wore the green and yellow bracelets and no mask; the morning started with breakfast and networking with handshakes and hugs. It was like the HFTP family and friends were back together as usual.
The Club Summit provides a unique opportunity to network with club CFOs and controllers, and get high-level club education, all in one place. I make it a goal to attend every year.
Here for the education: A personal favorite session was all about employment law today.
The HFTP staff and Club Advisory Council [responsible for planning Club Summit education] did a great job providing the highest level of education and providing a wide variety of topics that clubs are facing today. I enjoyed everyone from different parts of the country, sharing ideas and best practices post-Covid.
HFTP education is always top notch. The Club Summit was no exception. The education offered a wide range of topics from employment law, club legal matters, IT related items, and an open forum. My personal favorite was the “HR in 2021: Employment Law Best Practices” session. It was interesting, and scary at the same time, depending on which U.S. state you live in. The point that really stuck out most to me: how minimum wage increases will affect clubs. Clubs will need to figure out how to budget and retain talent in the next few years, and deal with minimum wage issues.
A return to networking and a chance to meet with industry vendors.
As a vendor member myself, I always appreciate how HFTP makes me feel at its events. At the Club Summit, vendors were strategically placed in the areas with beverage breaks, allowing for people to enjoy refreshments and interaction at the same time. As always, a wide variety of club-specific vendors were represented. It is nice to have those vendors that specifically work with clubs in one place and easily accessible. Since the attendee count is not large, you could have some real quality time with a vendor you needed to speak to.
A memorable moment: HFTP CEO Frank Wolfe celebrates 30 years with the association.
To start, HFTP Global President Mark Pate acknowledged our great leader Frank Wolfe for 30 years serving HFTP. I enjoyed Mark’s personal story about their travel around Dubai and how Frank made sure Mark had a great experience there. This epitomized the spirit of HFTP and especially Frank. He makes sure every member feels appreciated and heard. That is also felt at all HFTP events.
Finally: how was the venue?
The venue was at the beautiful Bahia Mar hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach, boasting breathtaking views of the marina and the Atlantic Ocean. It was within walking distance of many shops, restaurants and nightlife. I live in Florida, so for me it was a staycation, but for our many other attendees from across the U.S., they enjoyed the blue waters and sun that the “Sunshine State” offers.
What other attendees had to say after the event:
“What could possibly be better than spending two days with colleagues who do the same thing I do? The opportunities to glean knowledge from others in the industry are limitless.”
“This was the best conference educationally geared towards clubs yet. It was very relevant and spoke to the controllers on our level. Thank you.”
“I felt the speakers and content were very relevant, timely and addressed major issues financial and technical managers are facing in today’s challenging environment.”
“The HFTP Club Summit brings the education, resources and leadership that helps guide leaders through a maze of challenges and changes.”
Kelly Brennan is vice president of employee benefits at CBIZ and a current HFTP Global Board Director. She attended the HFTP 2021 Club Summit, which took place May 24-25 at the Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach — a Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida USA.