I had the pleasure of attending the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) Annual Conference in Miami Beach this week with several of my colleagues in the Celent banking team. The venue was well attended. I can say it was much more comfortable inside the convention center than being in the Miami hot and humid weather. This probably explains the large number of polo shirts and tieless casual dress shirts.
For those of you not familiar with the AFP Annual Conference, it’s a large event of about 6,000 treasury and finance professionals that meet for education and networking opportunities. A broad range of best practice topics are covered including payments, risk management, treasury operations, financial planning, and much more.
I spent much of my time at the event in constructive meetings with clients and prospects. Some of the hot topics I have encountered include cash forecasting, data analysis, risk management, mobile, paper-to-electronic, and treasury management systems. I did not feel that any topic reigned supreme but mobile does continue to increasingly take up the agenda items. The ‘newest’ topic which I think will continue to drive interest and top of mind for many, is the cloud.
The word that would best summarize many conversations across disciplines is “integration”. We are talking integration of data from mobile, integration of cash management banking portals, integration for data analytics, and integration of solutions and systems across the financial and peripheral systems within organizations.
The most exciting aspect for me was the level of innovation, investment, and excitement demonstrated by banks and vendors alike in our strategy meetings. There seems to be a sense of ‘seizing the opportunity’ from organizations across multiple topics. The folks I had a pleasure meeting with showed a genuine enthusiasm about their new services and solutions while the future is seen as being a glass half full instead of half empty.
Overall, I felt the conference was beneficial and met my expectations. However, I did hear from several attendees that this year seemed to have a lower attendance. Regarding the exhibitors, it appeared at par with previous years. I did observe several new exhibitors of smaller size but very innovative – this was very encouraging. The sessions also received mix reviews but mostly favorable.
Next week, I will be at SIBOS in Osaka, Japan.