Three different taxi drivers in three days in Toronto give me widely different opinions of the current population of North America’s fifth largest city, ranging from 6 to 12 million. I think they will find it is in fact 2.5 million. However the population increased by 7,500 two weeks ago with the arrival of Swift’s Sibos, the annual gathering of the great and the good in Payments, Cash Management, Treasury, Trade Finance, Market Infrastructure and Investor Services.
There is no doubt Toronto is growing and therefore an appropriate place for a conference that seemed to eschew whatever malaise affects the previously sexier side of the banking sector.
Investment Banking maybe dead but Global Transaction Banking continues to forge forward in a world that is still moving money and paying for goods, and needs to adapt to a rapidly changing regulatory and delivery environment.
Whilst there were plenty of themes that came out of endless plenary sessions, the main theme that seems to be finally awakening from a communications and media perspective is that although investment banking might have got the sexy headlines in the past, now rather more attention is going on the basics of keeping the wheels of financial systems turning. The very fact that a leading financial publication, Financial News, has increased the team focussing on these supposed more mundane areas of banking fourfold in the past year must point to a trend.
The challenge how to make Transaction Banking more interesting on a long term basis and this will obviously be a major challenge for all of us, in-house and agency consultants alike.
So what else was going on at Sibos – three years on from the show that was kicked off by the collapse of Lehmans and had multi-million pound stands left bereft of staff, with exhibition halls half empty and those that were there in total shock?
Well, after two years slightly in the doldrums there is no doubt that Sibos was back this year. Stands were full and despite the slightly odd configuration of exhibition halls and plenary meeting venues, there was a much better buzz than in Hong Kong or Amsterdam.
Parties were back too with everyone fighting for space, so much so that they now start on the Sunday night! Clearly the best attended and certainly coolest venue was the joint MHP and Articulate party held on Wednesday 21 September at the uber chic Brassaii in King Street West.
The year ahead looks to be very exciting for Transaction Banking and Trade Finance and expect the coverage in this space to continue to grow.