Why Wilmington's FRA is successful and what's next

There was a gaping hole in the healthcare-conference space, and our RISE events grew rapidly to fill it. When Wilmington came calling in 2015, the timing was perfect for FRA.

Not many businesses are poised to take advantage of a market-defining opportunity; even fewer make the step successfully. Wilmington FRA is one of those that recognised and exploited just such an opening. Since 2001, FRA has redefined the financial- and healthcare-conference spaces across the US. Its eagerly anticipated events clearly meet an unsatisfied need among professionals looking to stay ahead and advance their careers.

Keeping up in times of rapid change

“In FRA’s early years”, says its Managing Director Ellen Wofford, “we were driven by a realisation that busy finance professionals had no practical way of keeping in touch with emerging trends and the hot topics of the day. The rapidly changing nature of financial markets and the complexities of regulation had people struggling to keep up; we aimed to fill that gap.”

Since then Ellen and her team have proven their ability to produce the highest quality live-event experience, differentiating FRA by maintaining a deep, relationship-driven dialogue with key customers. Given the complex nature of healthcare markets in North America, FRA’s leadership team was quick to draw parallels with the financial sector, and in 2005, the RISE conference was born. One year later, FRA established the RISE Association, which now boasts more than 2,500 engaged members; RISE is now recognized industry-wide as the number one source for information on risk adjustment and quality improvement within healthcare.

Traditional peer-to-peer networking

The value of FRA’s conferences lies not only in the subject matter on offer, but also in the opportunity for delegates to share knowledge and experience with other professionals, often operating in identical circumstances and under common constraints. Ellen learned early on that FRA’s RISE Nashville conference was the only place that professionals in government healthcare reform could go to learn from like-minded people.

“We capitalised on this situation through content, marketing reach and the creation of unprecedented networking opportunities” says Ellen.

FRA’s success in doing just that is evidenced by the rapid growth of RISE Nashville, which has evolved into a five-track conference with over 1,300 delegates and more than 100 sponsors. Healthcare events now account for the bulk of FRA’s schedule and in 2018, the company announced an extension of its RISE product line; RISE now offers fresh content and buzzworthy networking opportunities in alternative formats that include a suite of e-learning courses and certifications, customized in-house training, webinars and special-interest user groups.

Where next for FRA?

Ellen has a clear vision: “Our mission is to provide a community for professionals looking to stay ahead and advance their careers; today, our primary focus is on the healthcare sector. RISE is acknowledged as the premier community for healthcare professionals in the US who aspire to meet the extraordinary challenges posed by the emerging landscape of accountable care and government healthcare reform.

FRA’s acquisition in 2015 by Wilmington has given us access to the resources we need to sustain rapid growth, and my vision for FRA is to create a 24/7/365 engaged community.”

RISE Nashville, now in its 12th year, is Wilmington’s largest live event by revenue. Sponsorship revenue saw fantastic growth in 2018 as Ellen and her team found innovative ways to attract new sponsors, including opportunities linked to FRA’s new mobile app. Last year’s event was completely paperless, providing a first-time opportunity to sell app sponsorship – a great move, as the app attracted an 89% adoption rate by delegates.

Meeting leadership challenges head-on

FRA’s success is no accident. It requires strong leadership and determination. “I like to lead by example,” agrees Ellen.

“I lead from the front by taking action, demonstrating what needs to be done, and keeping my team organised to make sure we’re all on the same page and all contributing equally. The most telling feedback we get is from our sponsors and customers; I’ll leave them with the final word.”

“People are always pumped at the end of these conferences. The premier thing that makes RISE conferences better than any others is the customer service, friendliness and flexibility of staff. Well done again this year.” – Mike Madden, Chief Strategy Officer, Datafied (Sponsor)

“The ability to collaborate and learn from seasoned professionals is unique and well suited to the needs of attendees like me who are new to risk adjustment.” – Brett Goff, Project Manager, Sunflower Health Plan (Delegate)

Ellen Wofford, Managing Director of FRA

Ellen Wofford, Managing Director of FRA

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