That Time of Year: Conference Season Preview

SIBOS 2013 is taking place this week in Dubai, and although it is primarily a banking conference for the past number of years there is an emphasis on corporates, with the inclusion of the two day SIBOS Corporate Forum. I guess the timing of the announcement by SWIFT that they will reduce their prices from 1 January 2014 is no coincidence.  This initial prices reduction of 20% for FIN message types is part of a strategy to reduce pricing by half by 2015. For corporate users this has got to be good news and may be the incentive for some that finally persuades them to use SWIFT.

The conference itself has some interesting sessions for corporates, including ‘Best practices in the centralisation of treasury functions: are corporates and banks aligned?’ As one might expect there are sessions on the harmonisation of global banking standards and on the Alliance Lite2 product.  All good topics, but with only 14 sessions committed to corporates it might prove hard to justify a trip to Dubai solely to attend this conference.

The EuroFinance conference this year will be held in Barcelona from 16-18 October and for European treasurers this event is certainly a highlight. With over 60 corporate case studies it is a great opportunity to hear what your peers are doing – altogether with over 75 sessions there will be a lot to choose between over the two-and-a-half days.

Topics for consideration include, as one would anticipate, the single euro payments area (SEPA), bank rationalisation and liquidity. It is a scary thought that many companies are not yet ready for the SEPA change that becomes effective on 1 February 2014. One of the more alarming statistics is that of the 37bn transactions eligible, only 35% of SEPA credit transfers (SCTs) are currently compliant and just 2% of the direct debits (SDDs) that need to be migrated actually have been.

A General Theme

There seems to be a general theme emerging across the conferences this autumn – doing things better and the concept of treasury transformation with many of the sessions at EuroFinance in particular reflecting the trend.

The Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) usually holds its conference in October and this year it takes place in Las Vegas from 27-30 October. This is by far the largest event, offering over 140 sessions and with more than 6,000 treasury and finance professionals expected to attend.  Once again there will be interesting peer discussions on topics ranging from ‘Leveraging Renminbi (RMB) for the benefit of your Global Business’ to discussions on notional pooling, regulations reform, best treasury practices and treasury transformation.

Two areas that have particularly caught my attention are cash forecasting and electronic bank account management (eBAM). Cash forecasting is always a hot topic and often appears on the top of a treasurer’s ‘could do better’ list. There are some interesting sessions on this subject at both EuroFinance and the AFP conferences, including practical case studies from practitioners.

eBAM is one of those concepts that seems like a great idea and has been talked about for years, but yet has never really taken off. Both EuroFinance and the AFP provide good sessions on the practical side of eBAM, including some case studies on the real life experience of implementing a solution.

If you are lucky enough to be attending any of the above conferences, I hope that you find them enjoyable and rewarding.