Signals from Sibos: Where to focus thought leadership for financial services

Jennifer Hardwick

With COP26 looming large it’s easy to think that there are no other shows in town.

But earlier in the month, 19,000 delegates gathered virtually over four days to explore the future of financial services.

What began as a banking operations seminar in 1978 has become the leading global event on the financial ecosystem. Sibos sounds big and imposing. And it is.

When it last held physically, in 2019, London was the venue for the biggest event in its history: 11,500 delegates and more than 300 exhibitors.

If you want to know what’s happening in payments, securities, cash management and trade, you turn up – or, in this case, tune in.

There has been plenty of post-event analysis from big names in industry, including Microsoft’s summary, as well as Baanx and Worldline’s takes on the future of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

So what does the Sibos conference programme tell us about financial service companies’ priorities over the next 12 months – and what could this mean for your thought leadership campaigns?

Leading by example

Change and social responsibility were big themes.

There was a notable focus on women in finance, where it’s clear that progress remains limited. See the latest women in charter finance figures. The impact of a recent Deloitte study shows us why more companies will want to explore what their industry or sector is doing to address structural and cultural issues.

Sustainable investment is never far from the top of the finance agenda, but a focus on a bank’s own action on climate change – as opposed to its ESG products – was also a topic of discussion.

We expect to see greater coverage of banks’ own climate commitments over the next year, especially when there appears to be some inconsistencies at play in the run-up to the COP26 talks in Glasgow.

The very future of money was the topic of a flagship debate, and caught our attention following this eye-opening write-up from Leda Glyptis on the potential impacts of programmable money.

Given the increasing focus on the future social role and purpose of banks, this is a rich territory for potential campaigns next year.

The bank of the future

As you’d expect from an event organised by SWIFT, the global provider of secure financial messaging services, transformative technology was also centre stage.

Alongside the expected sessions on data and the human influence on technology, there was great attention paid to APIs. Given its fanfare three years ago, we are not the only ones to wonder what happened to open banking, as Elliot Lamb from Mambu explores in this piece.

We’re expecting to see renewed attention in the industry on the role of innovation and data sharing – and what this means for the bank of the future.

Back to the office?

As should be the case for any 2021 industry conference, talent and the hybrid working world also featured heavily in the conversation. At the Big Issue Debate ‘How do companies balance?’, the panel explored the tensions which exist in some firms between managers and employees over a return to the office.

While remote working was previously rarely factored into companies’ business plans, McKinsey research finds finance has the joint-highest potential of any sector for it to be effective – with three-quarters of time spent on activities that can be done remotely without a loss of productivity.

Paying attention to the talking points of this year’s Sibos will be a great starting place for anyone planning their thought leadership campaigns for 2022. Considering what is unique about your business – and using your expertise to drive the conversation – is the crucial next step.

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About the author: Jennifer Hardwick

Jennifer joined Longitude as content writer and editor following an extensive career in journalism and communications.

Her wealth of storytelling experience helps her craft engaging copy across campaigns, bringing insights and narratives to life.

Before coming to Longitude, Jennifer worked in news reporting and B2B journalism before building her career in internal communications and marketing, working across a broad range of sectors.

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