Sibos #2 – Your Weather Forecast for 2014
This is my second post on Sibos. The first focused on some of the impressions I took from my conversations at Sibos. This post is more on the impressions from Sibos itself. As regular attendees will agree, the event as a whole often serves as a good barometer of industry sentiment.
The headline is that Sibos is back. Swift would argue that it never went away, but after the rather damp squid that was Osaka, the difference was clearly different, with the halls full and buzzing. Swift clam 7,648 delegates, which breaks out to roughly 44% Europe, 29% Middle East & Africa, 16% Asia Pacific and limping in last, 11% Americas. Considering the size of the delegations from the large US banks, the latter number shows that Swift needs to continue to make sure the conference returns to the US regularly. Great potential – but equally, perhaps not enough success so far. There are a number of factors of course. Europeans are (sadly) used to paying equivalent ticket prices for big conferences, but Americans often aren’t. For example, a ticket to AFP is roughly 1/3rd of the cost of Sibos ticket, and of course flights are cheaper (and the wifi works – what is it with Sibos & wifi?!)
It was interesting to see the stands themselves. Many were much smaller in scale – though still very large if you’ve only ever been to some of the other trade shows – and the staff around those stands much smaller in number. You also have to remember that Swift control the stand sizes, with controls limiting how quickly a stand scale down down from one year to the next. One client, a vendor, told me they’d only brought 1/3rd of the team they’ve traditionally brought to Sibos. Another no longer has a stand at all, preferring to pre-book meetings. But those with stands were plainer, and with much more focus on meeting room space, than “drop by” space. That said, some stands were as big as ever. For those of you who haven’t attended, perhaps the following stat will give you a sense of scale. The Swift stand (and their stand alone) had over 7,500m of cat5 cabling!
The focus was on pre-booked meetings, more so than any other show I attend. What was interesting was the lateness of the general invitations to have meetings. These emails started arriving en masse 4 or 5 weeks after the first set of requests from our clients. I’d be curious how many casual meetings were actually generated by this activity.
And finally, perhaps the best indicator of all – the giveaways and the parties! There were few of the former, but there seems to have been a resurgence of the latter. However, the parties were smaller and more focused in audience, though it still surprises me how few parties even log attendance, let alone have branding at the events.
So, let’s turn to the barometer. What does it tell us?
I think the needle has moved from Change to Fair Weather, and all indications suggests that the needle is moving to Dry. The industry seems to be clear that it needs to do something, and that worst is behind it. Whilst perhaps not quite bullish yet, the banks recognise that there is plenty to play for, and that there is a danger in waiting for even calmer waters. Banks who remain cautious in their spending for much longer may find themselves lagging others. Not quite back to normal, but perhaps happier days. See you in Boston for Sibos 2014.