On the Run in Boston

With a 5k race, a 1920s-themed party and cryptocurrencies on the agenda, this year’s Sibos looks to be as hot as ever, even if New England temperatures are a bit cooler than Dubai
By Editorial
Editor’s note: This article appears in our Fall magazine issue, which will be on hand at Sibos. It is written by Anne Fry, a freelance journalist who has worked for several U.K. national newspapers and magazines. She is married to a recently retired banker and brings you decades of industry “knowledge.”

My good friends at Team Sibos Boston 2014 have come up with a great idea for keeping delegates fighting fit.

They have organized an energizing 5k fun run/walk, which will involve delegates being picked up from their conference hotels at around 5.30 a.m. The race will start and finish at Fort Independence and take place along Pleasure Bay in South Boston. And best of all, the organizers are promising to return all the participants to their hotels by 8 a.m. sharp so that they can be raring to go at the start of the conference day. I’m confident some people will find this race a breeze and some others more of a wheeze.

I am sure there will be a great turnout for this, as most of my banker pals are a competitive lot. But has SWIFT maybe missed a trick? Why pick participants up from their hotels at 5.30 a.m. when the coaches could surely be sent to the party venues or after-party bars at the same time and take the runners straight from there? There are surely going to be more than one or two having a last one for the road at such an early hour. Anyway, I have known figure conscious bankers who have gone straight to the gym after a calorific dinner, so the determination is clearly already there.

Now what will people wear for this worthwhile enterprise? Obviously in the running for this is that chap I saw recently haring through Vienna Airport. His bizarre travel outfit comprised of a black running vest and matching shorts, pristine white trainers and short socks, plus an expensive looking business suit jacket. Presumably the rest of his office kit was in his minuscule holdall, or maybe he kept a pair of trousers in each of his office locations. Possibly the businessman in question was even a Sibosian following the race organizers’ seven week “Couch to 5k” plan. This advises: “If you haven’t gotten off the couch in quite some time, it might be a good idea to see a physician before you get started.”

Participants could, of course, wear bank logos on their exercise kit and carry those insulated branded coffee cups that banks are always giving away. Bankers are, of course, a generous breed, and this year SWIFT will be giving every Sibos attendee a postcard with a token attached. The idea is that when you drop it in the wishing well at the SWIFT stand, 10 euros will be donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston.

Meanwhile, more traditional fare is also on offer in Boston this year.

“Putting on the Ritz” is the imaginative theme of one of the many delectable sounding social events. “Take yourself back to the roaring 1920s,” the invitation says. “Sip on cocktails from our speakeasy bar or dance to your heart’s content for an unforgettable night at one of Boston’s hottest venues.” Well that sounds pretty good to me, and remember, I plan to be watching!

Meanwhile, lucky delegates, including me, have been invited to a splendid sounding get-together at the Massachusetts State House. There will also be a lunch at a hotel on historic Rowes Wharf and lots of cocktail parties, including one in the Museum of Fine Arts. Perhaps we might even get invited to the Boston Aquarium where at a previous Sibos a shark watched balefully as delegates ate smoked salmon sandwiches.

This year’s Boston conference fare sounds particularly interesting, too, with my friends at Innotribe offering areas of focus, including cryptocurrencies, disruptions and innovations. “A tagline: ‘building bridges’—allowing us to make the connection between core and non-core,” says Innotribe.

In addition, the Innotribe space will be overlaid with a non-intrusive digital layer this year. Now this all sounds very promising indeed, and I look forward to finding out exactly what it all means! Perhaps an Innotriber will translate this into a more user-friendly form?

Meanwhile, we attended a couple of excellent social events in London before the conference season proper got under way. One bank’s enjoyable summer BBQ was rained off and relocated indoors. Dozens of guests cancelled at the last minute, but those who did brave the weather had a great time. Another pleasant evening was spent at a glitzy awards dinner in London, where there was laughter when the host jokily told one glam lady banker that it was a long way to walk from her table to the podium in those heels!

Let’s hope at Sibos that the heels are saved for the parties and that the 5k participants bring the right footwear!