A SWIFT gift to the securities services industry

With Sibos Digital upon us, we can be thankful that this free-to-attend event will still go ahead and reach a wider audience, even if we will miss attending in-person.

If you work in the securities services industry you will undoubtedly be aware of Sibos, a 40-year old behemoth conference spectacle which tours the world on an annual basis. From London to Sydney and tens of cities in between, the financial services conference sets sail each year for a new destination, landing at the largest conference centres in the world – capable of hosting thousands of delegates.

The content and conversations within the four-day event tend to set the agenda for the year ahead, highlighting the most pressing issues facing the financial services industry as a whole. While the coverage is broad, the scale of the event allows for specific sessions to drill down into niche areas – whether that is the post-trade, regulation or new technologies – giving a variety of banking professionals ample takeaways from the week.

What some people tend to forget is that only a small percentage of team members ever get to attend the expo. Sending hundreds of personnel from Toronto to Singapore – or vice versa – is often not a viable option, even for resource-rich banks.

It is this realisation which eased the disappointment of Sibos Boston 2020 being cancelled and turned into a free-to-attend digital event for its members. If 11,500 delegates attended the most recent physical event in London, can you imagine how many people can now access Sibos and its content in a digital format? We might be talking 100,000 plus over the week, many of who will be experiencing the event for the first time.

The inspiration, networking and education you can draw from an event like this cannot be underestimated. I’ve left sessions before with nuggets of information or ideas that have grown into major projects or moves for Global Custodian, and have even attended talks that have significantly impacted my personal life – whether it be on diversity, geopolitics or making a difference to humanity through our work.

That everyone can experience this during 2020 is a silver lining to the lack of a Boston event. I would also say the quality of the speakers has risen with the ability for anyone to speak on a panel no matter where they are in the world. The big custodians will have their chief executives speaking during the event, with Jamie Dimon the standout speaker of the conference – debatably the biggest name in financial services. Meanwhile we’ll also hear from State Street’s Ron O’Hanley and BNY Mellon’s Todd Gibbons.

Other panels to tune into for our securities services readership include: the future of post trade (Tuesday), managing the traditional world, while building out the digital future (Thursday) and the triple bottom line as a driver for sustainable business and a better world (Thursday).

There are also plenty of streams on new technologies, cyber-crime and central bank digital currencies to look out for.

I, for one, will certainly miss the annual buzz of the conference hall and artisan coffees, but not as much as the chance to catch up with people who you often see just the once a year. It is this interaction and the chance bumping into each other throughout the week that is irreplaceable – despite various conference organisers’ best efforts to replicate this digitally. For a year, we can certainly accept the sacrifice with the upside of opening this exhibition up to a wider audience, but long-term we’ll all keep our fingers crossed that the physical event can return. A positive of all this could be a future hybrid version of Sibos – and other events- where this far-reaching access can co-exist alongside those who wish to travel and network.

If this is your first experience of the conference, enjoy all it has to offer, and for those seasoned Sibos veterans, do encourage your teams to tune in where possible and we look forward to seeing you again on the virtual exhibition floor.