Friday, September 15, 2023 from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM CDT
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Joliet Junior College
1215 Houbolt Road
Joliet, IL 60431

Rooms EC-2001 & EC-2002

Parking in Lots S6 & S7

Driving Directions 


Sara Decatoire, CAE, IOM
NAIFA Illinois

Meet the Emcee

Ray Shimizu has been in the financial services industry for over 25 years as a team-builder, advisor, and coach.  With a passion for servant-leadership, and a keen understanding of what it takes to build his clients’ portfolios for times of crisis, Ray founded Financial Ark, LLC and operates as its CEO.  Ray believes in win-win situations and does everything he can to ensure all who work with him come out on top.  He uses his skill and experience to help his clients and advisors secure their financial futures, and in so-doing, they find financial peace; this then spreads to other parts of their lives.

Ray is a John Maxwell Certified Coach, Trainer and Speaker.  He has spoken at many NAIFA events and has mentored the next generations of financial professionals as Chairman of NAIFA Illinois YAT 2013-2014.  He also served as President of NAIFA Chicagoland Metro South 2017, and was featured in Bloomberg Magazine 2015.  He is a NAIFA LILI graduate and currently serves on the NAIFA IL Board as Co-Chair of Programs.

Ray resides in Orland Park with his best friend and wife, Stephanie.  Together, they share the same passion to serve their family, friends, and clients.



NAIFA IL's Chicago Metro South Education Conference 

Please join us for the NAIFA IL's Chicago Metro South Education Conference on Friday, September 15th. The Illinois Mandatory Ethics Training, moderated by Eric Essex, will be held in the morning followed by a networking lunch and presentations by Laurie Adams, with COUNTRY Financial; and Nathan Akers, Director of Advisor Relations for National Gold Consultants.

 2 General IL CE credit hours & 3 hours Ethics CE is available!

Event Schedule

8:30 - 9:00          Registration

9:00 – 12:00        Ethics Training - Moderator – Eric Essex, LUTCF, FSS, CLTC

12:00 – 1:00        Opening Remarks/Exhibitor Intros/Lunch – Ray Shimizu - Emcee

1:00 – 1:50          Speaker – Laurie Adams, CFP, CLU, LUTCF, LACP - Plan to Pivot... Cross-                                      Selling Life & Financial Services 

1:50 – 2:10          Break with Exhibitors

2:10 – 2:55          Speaker – Nathan Akers - Unlocking the Power of Gold & Silver   

2:55 – 3:00          Closing Remarks & Raffle Prizes – Ray ShimizuEmcee

3:00 – 5:00          Networking – offsite (optional)

Meet The Speakers

Eric Essex, LUTCF, FSS, CLTC is a registered representative with Wela Financial in Yorkville, IL. For over 25 years he has specialized in developing strategies for individuals, families and small businesses to replace their income and protect their lifestyle, allowing them to realize their goals and dreams while ensuring their retirement.

He began his career as an agent with Liberty Mutual and then moved into management. From there he served the industry as a manager with Prudential until deciding to go back to personal production with New York Life and then became a Life and Financial Sales Specialist with Farmers Insurance. Almost five years ago, Eric seized the opportunity to work with Wela Financial and their amazing team.

Eric and his beautiful and talented wife Roxanne live in Yorkville and have 2 children and 4 grandchildren. He is involved in his community through his local chamber of commerce in Yorkville and Sandwich, Yorkville Kiwanis Club and the Three Fires Council BSA.  He enjoys spending time with his family, camping, hiking and continuing to sharpen his saw.

Laurie Adams, CFP, CLU, LUTCF, LACP is with COUNTRY Financial in Peoria, IL. For over 30 years she has helped clients meet their insurance and investment goals and regularly places near the top of COUNTRY’s advisor force. She was named their 2011 National Champion after tripling the previous company production record. That record stands today. In 2019, Laurie was inducted into COUNTRY’s Hall of Fame. She is also a Lifetime and Qualifying Top of the Table Member of the Million Dollar Round Table.

Laurie taught professional education courses for St. Ambrose University and an affiliate for twenty years. Managing Retirement Risks, Income Planning Opportunities and Obstacles, Annuities From A-Z, The ABCs of College Savings Plans, Social Insecurity, Making Sense of Medicare and A Long-term Look at Long Term Care are just a few of the courses she created and presented.

An active volunteer, Laurie currently serves on the board of Leadership Illinois and the Estate Planning Council, and as a debate and speech coach at University High School in Normal, helping them achieve a State Championship in 2013 and two National Champions. Laurie is a Past President of NAIFA Illinois, as well as her local. 

Laurie is a contributing columnist for NAIFA’s Advisor Today magazine. She has been quoted in The Journal of Financial Planning, Investment News Weekly and the Peoria Journal Star. Laurie was a featured presenter at NAIFA’s National Career Conference in 2008 and 2018 and has spoken at numerous state conferences.

For three years Laurie was the host of the weekly Let’s Talk Insurance radio program on WTAZ. She was a weekend weather person for WHBF-TV and KWQC-TV throughout the 1980s and served as a fill in announcer at WHOI-TV in the 1990s.

Laurie has been married to Mark, a former hotel manager turned high school teacher, for over 40 years. They have one son, Justin, a graduate of Arizona State University, who completed a graduate assistantship at Florida State with a Masters Degree in Integrated Marketing and Business Communication. He currently works as a Communication Specialist at Tallahassee Community College.

Nathan Akers is a twenty-year veteran of the financial industry. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, a Master's of Business Administration in Finance and is the Director of Advisor Relations for National Gold Consultants.

His interest in precious metals can be traced back to his experience in the industry during the 2008 Great Recession. He sat across the decision-making desk with thousands of clients as they made choices regarding investment strategies and asset allocation. He guides and educates clients on equity markets, fixed income, annuities, and life insurance. He found that precious metals are under-owned and misunderstood by the majority of investors.

Nathan has a contagious passion for educating people about the strategies and concepts involving precious metals as a diversification tool. By setting aside the extreme views that are so common in the industry, he brings logic and rational thought to this misunderstood asset class. He helps clients solve the problem of inflation eating away at their savings, and market downturns decimating their portfolios by utilizing gold and silver as wealth insurance.