A virtual toast to you, our audience

Global Custodian rescheduled its annual Leaders in Custody awards to 3 September, but on the original date the event would have taken place, our editor sends a message to our global audience.

This would have been the day of Global Custodian’s flagship annual Leaders in Custody awards at The Savoy in London, had we not rescheduled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As ever, it would have been an evening of catching up with peers and old friends. Laughing, reminiscing, and of course, celebrating excellence across the securities services industry through the awards presentation itself.

While we’re sad not to be commemorating a year of your achievements with the securities services community on this day, we take solace knowing that through avoiding gatherings like this, we are all doing our part to stem the flow of this global pandemic.

We decided very early on in the outbreak of COVID-19 to reschedule the event to 3 September. We’re privileged to have attendees from all corners of the world – our magazine alone reaches 128 countries – and because of this we did not want to put anyone at risk. This was an easy decision, some things are just too important, and health and well-being stands above pretty much everything else.

I must confess, I did watch last year’s highlights. What a night it was. Our 30th anniversary celebration was one to remember, with black ties and ball gowns donned, live classic music ringing through the reception and awards which honoured both annual achievements along with continued excellence throughout our history.

Alas, instead of gracing the stage at The Savoy, much like you, I’m in a home office with family, coffee which is no longer complimentary and an internet connection which suggests to callers I might be on Mars.

It’s not what today should have been but the team at Global Custodian are powering on, just as you are I’m sure. It’s important to stay positive in this current environment so I’ll repeat something I wrote in my editor’s letter featured in our Spring issue – out next week:

As the world joins together in a rare show of unity in the fight against the virus, it reminds you how much of a rarity it is for something to bind us all, and makes you feel lucky to work in a sector that’s global by nature and has a deep-rooted universal connection.

At its core, the securities services industry is interlinked through global networks. Custodians, in particular, rely on connections from all corners of the world to help them best serve their clients, creating a web of networks and relationships that often start as business deals before often turning into a personal camaraderie, or vice-versa. 

We attend conferences such as Sibos which moves from continent to continent to the home of a range of organisations with each passing year. We adhere to global standards, regulations and are members of worldwide associations. Over the last month I’ve spoken to custodians in Australia, fund administrators in Bermuda and consultants in Canada. At Global Custodian, we’ve travelled east and west to meet readers and survey participants this year already. The global nature of the business might seem like a necessity, but in times like this you can also step back and consider it a privilege. 

Countries may have closed their borders, but we’ve still been able to learn from each other during this period, share in our respective isolation stories and even have a laugh at videos of Italians playing tennis across from each other’s flats – YouTube it if you haven’t seen it. Zoom, Teams and Skype are keeping us connected in place of networking events and I’m increasingly finding we’re getting to know more about each other than ever before as we share personal anecdotes along with business updates.

So, we might not all be gathering together tonight but it’s great to know the industry is still, and always will be connected, even in our respective isolations.

If we could hand out one award today it would be the all the medical professionals around the world, working tirelessly to battle against this virus and keep us safe. To them, and you, we raise a virtual glass and wish you well.

And when this is all over we hope to see you all one packed-out Global Custodian awards dinner in the second half of the year, we hope it will be a celebration like no other.

Jonathan Watkins

Editor, Global Custodian