Notes from Sibos
Robert did a great job summarising many of the conversations we had during the week. I would perhaps add a couple of other elements that were part of every conversation.
It feels almost obvious to say so, but you can’t get too far in any conversation without mentioning at least one regulation. If we could do a word cloud of the conversations, I would rank them Basel III, SEPA, FATCA, and 1073, but certainly wasn’t an exhaustive list. What struck me were the levels of uncertainty raised by these regulations, despite the numerous discussion taking place. For example, despite the end date now being set, and the rule books being in place, SEPA is still causing consternation, from some outstanding details (such as declaration of the member state transition period exemptions) to individual bank readiness (currently far from 100%) to whether corporates are ready and willing to move.
New broom, new Swift?
This was the first Sibos since the changing of the guard at Swift. It would be too simplistic to say a move from the relationship style of the Spanish to the more direct commercial approach of the Dutch, but certainly some announcements by Swift at the partner meeting had a number of vendors muttering this. We’re still taking on board information to allow us to form a more considered view, but certainly at first glance there seems to be a renewed vigour at making sure Swift capitalises on its strengths. And as the saying goes, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs in the process.
There were persistent rumours that Innotribe will be “offered a chance to spread its wings” circulating (i.e. dropped from Sibos), but it does seem increasingly out of place. I didn’t get chance to attend any sessions other than in passing, but few other people I spoke to who did either or saw the value. Out of context, and so almost uncertainly unfair, but when senior Swift colleagues were overheard at the Sibos party referring to Innotribe as the crèche, more than a few eavesdroppers agreed. But it highlights an issue in perception about what Sibos is about and what it should be about. That leads to the final point below. Whilst we all agree that innovation is important, it perhaps needs to be made more relevant and made more mainstream in terms of the conference. A possible model could be Celents very own Model Bank award which highlights and rewards real life innovation. Don’t forget by the way the deadline for this year is coming soon – more details here.
For the first time, I heard people questioning the value of attending Sibos. The location and cost put many people off attending. Whilst the organisers claim 7,000, the exhibitors believe that it was closer 2,500. Whatever the numbers, I certainly know many people who didn’t make the trip, and have clients who also didn’t take a stand this year. Dubai next year (apparently counting somehow as a return to Europe) is causing the same consternation – for some it’s the cost, others the practicalities of visiting a country which some believe they can’t visit for a variety of reasons.
I think Sibos is far from dead – you can argue that the lower attendance has filtered out the casual visitor, and we certainly came away with both new business and new insights. But it does pose a question about whether Sibos 2013 will respond in such away to encourage greater attendance. Whilst the attendance of the banks (and the seniority of the bankers) means it will maintain it’s relevance, the breadth of attendees and variety of exhibitors is what makes it a “must”.
Finally, a quick word on our host city. Despite the time it took to get there (door to door, 25 hours), I have to say the experience was fantastic. Rarely have I been to a city where everyone has been so friendly, polite and helpful and where I have felt safe wherever I was, whatever time it was. Given the opportunity, I’d gladly return.