By Andrea Fiano
Nearly 7,000 bankers, corporate treasurers and software vendors from around the world are converging on Dubai’s World Trade Centre for SWIFT’s annual Sibos conference, which has become the leading networking event of the year for the financial services industry.
Sibos is much more than a super-conference (with 200 sessions) and an exhibition hall that takes 20 minutes to walk from one end to the other. The conference has come a long way from the first meeting in Brussels in 1978—when Sibos had just 300 participants. In pre-conference interviews, bankers planning to attend Sibos 2013 said they are ready to sign many deals and to roll out sophisticated new product offerings.
This year’s Sibos, the first to take place in the Middle East, will offer a special day dedicated to Middle East and Africa—looking at key issues affecting the area. The dedicated Africa session will ask what role securities market infrastructures play in attracting foreign investment to local markets. Finally, as the number of international financial centers rises in the Middle East, another session will examine the role of financial centers in the region and their contribution to the local economies.
All this in a program opening with several concurring sessions—including one on Big Data and a roundtable on the future of money, and closing remarks on Thursday by well-known global political and economic analyst, Ian Bremmer, president of political risk consultancy, Eurasia Group.
In addition to the sessions, as usual at this kind of world gathering, there will be hundreds if not thousands of business meetings discussing partnerships, announcing new products and solutions, or simply creating or renewing new business ties in a networking focused event. The business that is conducted on the sidelines of Sibos is equally as impressive as the formal program, with its numerous tracks and an upbeat theme of putting new growth back on the banking agenda, and doing it in a sustainable and inclusive manner. The conference is really is a space for collaborative innovation and dealmaking.
As in the past, the key themes discussed here will be regulation, operational excellence and worldwide shifts in areas such as compliance. There will be specific forums on technology, market infrastructure, corporates, compliance, and standards, and a specific accent on financial inclusion.
Innotribe, the forum dedicated to innovation that was launched at Sibos a few years ago, will change its approach somewhat: shifting from the presentation of topics to building capabilities, still maintaining the style of a highly interactive and immersive learning experience.
“The reality and speed of change in our industry needs new ways of thinking, so we’ll help adapt, address and respond to situations which simply cannot be tackled using traditional linear thinking” explain the organizers. “It’s time to move beyond polarizing conversations to providing a forum for critical dialogue, leading to a richer set of choices and better decision-making.”
For corporates the focus will be on going beyond secure connectivity and towards a single window to the financial community in terms of liquidity, payments, forex, trade and electronic standards.
Another key theme will be business intelligence, leveraging information and utilizing different tools of analysis like BI Watch and BI Insights. For example, a strategic dashboard for cash management and payments, trade and securitization was launched at Sibos in Osaka last year.