Sibos Diaries: Countdown to Sibos 2016


Sibos Diaries: Countdown to Sibos 2016

As the jet d'eau continues its serene climb to the sky it knows little about the impending descent upon the so-called "Capital of Peace" next week by seven thousand bankers, technologists, treasurers, analysts, press, marketeers and the entire circus we know and love as "Sibos".  The stunning 18th-century Hotel Restaurant Parc des Eaux-Vives - in the park of the living waters - will be assailed first as Sibos kicks off with a bang with the annual Intellect dinner and drinks party for senior transaction bankers, with Lisa Robins of Deutsche Bank as the guest speaker.  Our team have everything planned, everything ready, but we can still squeeze in a few more guests!

Geneva is full of fantastic locations. The Richemond will see us on Sunday morning, continuing the Great Debate as we do every year with breakfast followed by what are usually highly animated round table discussions on the most trending transaction banking topics: (1) contextual banking (the radical notion that banking products should actually be sensitive to the context of - that is, basic reason for - the transaction), (2) balance sheet management (the increasing need to consider the effect of cash on the corporation's balance sheet and how banks can help it with the effect on the bank's balance sheet and how to protect it), (3) SMEs (the Cinderella of transaction banking? - beloved of governments as saviours of their economy) and (4) taking transaction banking international (as the biggest banks retrench, it give oxygen for primarily-domestic banks to stretch their wings).

Want to join the debate?  Ask us. There's also a free lunch.  (No, really).

Sibos @ Geneva brings mixed emotions.  Not just because I know the venue well, it being right next to the airport where I have struggled so many times carrying my skis, my childrens' skis, heavy boots, warm clothing etc.  Geneva airport is special.  Well, it was built partly on French soil, the concession being only granted in exchange for the right to exit the airport either into Switzerland (by following everybody else) or into France (turn left just there - oops, no, you missed it).  But just to make it difficult, if you do choose to exit with checked-in luggage on the French side (where the hire cars are so much cheaper and where you don't need a CHF40 vignette to drive on the motorway), you have to exit on the Swiss side, then collect your luggage (skis, boots yada yada), then struggle up some steps back to no-man's-land and then down some steps out to France. Whew!

However, it seems only right that Sibos comes this year to Geneva.  Not, not because it's so expensive.  Geneva, financial centre especially for Swiss private banking, is also a centre of diplomacy, housing the Red Cross, the United Nations and even gave its name to the famous Geneva Convention, which aims to give the lie to the idea that all's fair in love and war.  Well, war, anyway. Love clearly too hard a task.  So if we think about the post-crisis, balance-sheet-aware, treat-clients-fairly new bank ethos, it seems only right this centre of peace and fairness should be the venue at a time that contextual banking - the attempt to actually solve clients' real, underlying needs - takes centre stage.

"Contextual banking" - or business-aware banking - starts with the assumption that people do not really want banking products for themselves.  Rather they take them as a means to an end - for a desired purchase, to keep staff by paying their salaries, to optimise money to avoid cash shortfalls, to trade internationally at an acceptable risk, and so on.  The four S's - segment, sector, structure and situation - all affect how a business wants its bank to behave and the products it needs.  Also, our deployment of artificial intelligence, predictive behavioural modelling and natural language processing and adaptive machine learning, as part of which we launched intelligent Google-inclusive KYC last Sibos, continues and now payments and transaction banking more generally will make this contextualisation possible, so we will begin to see more of API banking and recommenders, available to both the banks and the banks' client base.  Come and hear Herber de Ruijter delve into this more at 2.45 on Tuesday at Open Theater 2.

Whether driven by the threat (and rebundling opportunity) of the fintechs or moved by the desire of governments as expressed, usually, in regulations, or by a commercial need to cut costs and compete more aggressively, never have banks been so keen to change themselves.  Over the years we have seen the rise and fall of change projects, business process redesign, business re-engineering projects, value based management, banking transformation and now digitalization. The technology, the suppliers, the competition and even the regulations are now all combining to shift this opportunity to an imperative. Drop by stand D67 to hear more.

So as the water in the jet d'eau crashes back into Lac Léman, even though we cannot hear the sound from the shore, we know that the water has been transformed, reorganised, some winners, some losers, and the serene lake belies the tiny unheard cries of individual water droplets as they cry out 'use my fintech', 'save my job', 'build this API', 'understand my context', and from those social-media aware ones, #PayNow, #APIBanking, #ContextualBanking, #AIKYC.


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