Focus Series Overview

Take an adventure with us and spend the afternoon on a deep dive.

The Institute’s Focus Series, promises to take a deep dive into the complexities of a specific industry topic or theme that our members have expressed interest in learning more about. Led by industry thought leaders, the Focus Series will immerse you in a single industry theme, featuring timelyFocus On Series content that matters, right now.

We will provide a holistic approach to examining each subject from different angles and perspectives. You’ll gain valuable insights from industry leaders and have the opportunity to interact with industry heavy weights, in real-time, from the comfort of your home or office.

Walk away feeling more confident and energized to start adding more alpha to your services with your increased awareness and knowledge.


Half-day events (3-4 hours), delivered quarterly. We also sporadically partner with industry heavy-weights to offer 1-hour, complimentary webinars. All are conveniently brought to you virtually, so you can enjoy from your home or office. And, don’t forget to tell a friend.


Upcoming Events

Mark your calendars so you don’t miss out.



How Investors are Using Real Estate to Find Yield Webinar

Are your clients looking for higher yield investment options? Join Black Creek Group to learn how private commercial real estate has historically provided higher yield compared to public real estate, equities, fixed income or cash over the last 20 years, what drives yield in private real estate and the differences between public and private real estate. 

Premier CE: 1 credit for CIMA®, CPWA®, and RMA® certifications | CFP® CE: Pending
Cost: Complimentary

April 22, 2021 | 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm EST

Register Now


Sponsored by: 
Black Creek Group logo


Ryan Strauser - speaker

Ryan Strauser

Senior Vice President
Product Management


Ryan Strauser is Senior Vice President, Product Management at Black Creek Capital Markets. In this role, Mr. Strauser oversees the product management, positioning and due diligence efforts for the firm’s offerings.

Mr. Strauser has more than 20 years of experience and prior to joining Black Creek in 2018, he worked at Jackson National where he held several roles within the product and investment management departments. In these roles, he was responsible for new product development, investment selection and product positioning. Before that, Mr. Strauser held similar positions at OppenheimerFunds, Old Mutual Capital and Great-West Investments.

Mr. Strauser holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from Wartburg College and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Colorado.


Steve Stroker

Steve Stroker

Chief Executive Officer
Black Creek Capital Markets


Steve Stroker is Chief Executive Officer at Black Creek Capital Markets. In this role, Mr. Stroker oversees the firm’s capital raising efforts and strategy to better service financial advisors and expand distribution channels.

Mr. Stroker has more than 35 years of experience and prior to joining Black Creek in 2017 he served as Senior Partner with Red Rock Strategic Partners, a business strategy consulting firm for wealth managers, where he consulted with thousands of financial advisors and wealth management firms. Previously, Mr. Stroker served as a Regional Director at R.W. Baird, where he oversaw Baird’s wealth management offices in the Midwest and Rocky Mountains. Prior to Baird, Mr. Stroker spent over 25 years at Smith Barney and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), where he held a variety of positions including Head of Professional Development, Financial Advisor, Branch Manager, Complex Director and Regional Director. In these capacities, he worked with thousands of Morgan Stanley financial advisors in offices across the country.

Currently, Mr. Stroker serves on the board of directors for Western Golf Association. Additionally, he is a frequent speaker at industry conferences including Barron’s, Forbes/SHOOK and Partners Group. Mr. Stroker holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Finance from the University of Illinois and a Master of Business Administration from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.



Decision Economics - A Behaviorally Informed Framework for Investment Decision-making

Is your investment process enhanced or limited by your decision making? Separating emotions from a rigorous process can often mean the difference between a good investment decision and a poor one. In this webinar, John Bryson, head of Investment Consulting Group at John Hancock Investment Management will explore how you can separate your practice by generating behavioral alpha through a sound decision framework. Using a framework of best practices, Decision Economics is designed to help you make better-informed decisions that systematically put the odds of success in your favor. The end result is an investment decision process that is definable, defendable and repeatable that can help you differentiate yourself from the competition.

Premier CE: 1 credit for CIMA®, CPWA®, and RMA® certifications | CFP® CE: Pending
Cost: Complimentary

May 13, 2021 | 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm EST

Register Now

Sponsored by:John Hancock logo


John Bryson - speaker

John P. Bryson

Head of Investment Consulting
John Hancock Investment Management


John leads the firm’s investment consulting team, which is responsible for initiatives and businesses, including portfolio consulting, product channel consulting, exchange-traded fund capital markets, college savings, and stable value. He is a member of the John Hancock investment committee and the John Hancock 529 investment oversight committee, and he serves as chairman of the John Hancock pension and 401(k) investment subcommittee. Prior to joining John Hancock Investments in 2008, he held product management and development positions at Fidelity Investments in the intermediary and defined contribution business units. Other previous roles include client service, investment training, and product specialist positions at New England Funds and Putnam Investments. John received a B.S. in Finance and an M.B.A. from Boston College.



Focus on Private Securities

Private market expertise is an area of differentiation for investment advisors and consultants, and the opportunities have never been more accessible. This event focuses on timely and relevant intelligence on the state of private markets, including how institutions are allocating to various asset classes like private equity and debt, real estate, and real assets. We’ll also dive deep into two additional areas of current interest – infrastructure/real assets, and the explosion of SPACs. This event is designed to give you current, actionable information with an opportunity to engage with top industry experts.

Premier CE: 4 credits for CIMA®, CPWA®, and RMA® certifications | CFP CE: 4 credits (pending approval)
Cost: $295

May 26, 2021 | 11:00 am - 3:30 pm ET

Register Now


Sponsored by:

MacQuarie logo



Athena Ole - speaker

Athena Ole, CAIA

Head of Private Funds
Nasdaq Private Market



Athena is responsible for driving the development of the Private Funds business at Nasdaq Private Market (NPM). NPM is addressing the illiquidity challenge of alternative investment funds with their technology-powered secondary marketplace for private investments. The business has streamlined and centralized secondary liquidity for traditional private market funds, and supports new registered product vehicles that build secondary liquidity into their structures.

Athena joined Nasdaq in 2018, bringing over 20 years of experience in financial services. Athena is a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst, and received her B.A. in Economics from Columbia College at Columbia University. She lives in Montebello, NY with her husband Rich and their three boys. Outside of her career and being a hockey mom, she enjoys her directorship on the board of High Water Women and is an accomplished musician and recording artist.



James Cowan - speaker

James Cowan

CEO and President
Macquarie Infrastructure & Real Assets (MIRA)


James joined Macquarie in 2000 and is the CEO of Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA)  Infrastructure Global Solution (MIGS) I and II. James oversees the Funds’ direct investment opportunities, and is jointly responsible for strategy, portfolio construction, capital raising and new product development. James also serves on the Manager and General Partner Boards, and the Funds’ Investment Committees.


James has worked in the infrastructure sector for over twenty years. In 2000, he led the acquisition, financing, and initial asset management of MIRA’s first asset in North America. His experience also includes acquisitions, divestitures, financings, asset management, capital raising and fund formation. At Macquarie, James previously led Macquarie’s capital raising for funds and co-investments, cross-border leasing, and transportation advisory teams in Canada. He was also instrumental in establishing Macquarie’s listed infrastructure fund business in North America.




Wednesday May 26, 2021

CE Credits

11:00am – 12:15pm

Private Market Outlook and Allocation Trends

Institutions and HNW individuals are increasingly drawn to private markets in search of more attractive risk-adjusted returns and diversification. In this session, we highlight key outlooks on asset allocation mixes and current public plan commitments to private equity, debt, real estate, and real assets. Additionally, we’ll discuss considerations and challenges for investment advisors to give their clients access to private markets, as well as the potential to add significant value and differentiation.

Athena Ole, CAIA
Head of Private Funds | Nasdaq Private Market


12:15pm – 12:45pm ET



12:45pm – 2:00pm ET

Unlisted Infrastructure – Defensive Equity with an Inflation Hedge

From a global investor perspective, infrastructure is a relatively nascent asset class. Qualitatively, we’ll discuss how it performs and what drives returns for this asset class. Some consider it a defensive equity, while others see as something more akin to a fixed income substitute. In simple terms, we’ll discuss whether we could describe private markets infrastructure as both defensive equity, with an inflation hedge component.

James Cowan
CEO and President| Macquarie Infrastructure & Real Assets (MIRA)


2:00pm – 2:30pm ET



2:30pm – 3:30pm ET

The Rise of SPACs – A primer on SPAC Structures and Impact on Capital Markets

SPACs, or Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (also known as “blank check companies”), have surged over the past year, rising to 248 IPOs in 2020 for $83B in proceeds and 154 YTD with $47B in proceeds. Given the increase in SPAC activity, the complexity of the structure, and the impact it can have across the industry, we’ll discuss the drivers of the growth, the SPAC structures and how they work, some of the risks and benefits to SPACs, the major players in the SPAC market, as well as what it potentially means for the outlook for M&A activity. Overall, healthy capital markets activity, including SPACs, tends to bode well for the growth outlook for the financial services sector. However, given the surge in SPACs, some of the risks, different economics, and companies that lack track records, we think a bit of caution is warranted.

Speaker TBA soon








Focus on Exchange Traded Funds

Assets in Exchange Traded Funds are poised to hit $50 trillion by 2030. With a growth rate of 25% the total ETF market reached $5.3 trillion in 2020. ETFs have gained traction because of tax efficiency, lower costs, liquidity, and transparency. Join us for a discussion about the latest investment strategies, ideas on how to generate alpha and alternative income, and how active ETFs are changing how portfolios are constructed with ETFs.

Premier CE: 4 credits for CIMA®, CPWA®, and RMA® certifications | CFP CE: 4 credits (pending approval)
Cost: $295

August 25, 2021 | 11:00 am - 3:30 pm ET

Keep me informed

Registration Coming Soon!

Sponsored by:
American Century Investments
John Hancock logo


Focus on Retirement Planning

Retirement planning must be a client-centric process and address the unique mindsets retirees face as they transition from accumulation to decumulation. Drawn from the RMA® curriculum, this event highlights practical frameworks for developing a Household Balancesheet™ as the center of a financial plan, mitigating retirement risk, and goals-based portfolio construction.

December 1, 2021 | 11am – 3:30pm ET

Keep me informed

Registration Coming Soon!

Sponsored by:

Finance of America Reverse     New York Life      PIMCO



Recent Events

Focus on Tax Alpha


High-net-worth clients want much more than simple investment tax-efficiency. They demand holistic TAX ALPHA that looks at all their financial moves through the lens of optimizing after-tax outcomes. This event provides strategic and actionable insights by advisors and for advisors to stay laser-focused on their clients’ 2021 tax situation.

January 27, 2021 | 11:00 am - 3:30 pm ET