Welcome to Boston!
As a former resident of the city's historic North End, Chris Church is ideally placed to welcome Sibos delegates back to Boston. And as both chief executive, Americas, and global head of securities at SWIFT, he believes Boston provides the perfect backdrop for an event that reflects the diversity of SWIFT's client base and the challenges that lie ahead of them in growing business while adapting to a rapidly evolving regulatory environment.
"Sibos is a great place to get business done," says Church. "With over 400 speakers and a comprehensive list of agenda topics there is also an exciting conference attached! And the fact that we are bringing Sibos to Boston for the third time underlines the city's global standing as an investment hub, its great infrastructure and its outward-looking spirit."
The United States has taken the lead in implementing a new, tougher regulatory framework for a more stable and sustainable financial sector, with its government agencies overseeing reforms in areas such as derivatives trading and preventing financial crime.
Representatives from a number of those agencies, as well as the institutions they supervise, will be present in Boston for Sibos, with many participating in a two-day Compliance Forum which has expanded significantly since its debut in Osaka in 2012. A highlight of the forum will be the opening address on Tuesday by Adam J. Szubin, Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), US Department of the Treasury.
Church is looking forward to hearing the latest thinking on the role of the cloud in supplying and storing secure, quality data for compliance purposes, as well as the potential for utility-based approaches to help banks meet financial crime regulations in a standardised, cost-effective manner.
"The size of recent fines is putting unprecedented pressure on business lines and individuals," Church notes. "Banks have invested massively in compliance, often in isolation. Increasingly, the banks are concluding that this model is not sustainable. Issues like KYC (know your customer) should not be seen in isolation. SWIFT is ideally positioned to support banks with a cooperative community approach - as their positive response to our KYC Registry has shown. He adds "the Compliance Forum at Sibos is a perfect opportunity for delegates to learn more about the regulatory environment and about SWIFT's compliance services such as The KYC Registry."
This year's Sibos also offers the opportunity to explore the business, financial and operating challenges facing two non-traditional, but increasingly important elements of the SWIFT community: corporates and investment managers.
The US is home to some of the biggest corporate proponents of SWIFT connectivity, such as General Electric and Microsoft. But Sibos' Corporate Forum - now in its eighth year - stretches its remit far and wide, from the internationalisation of the renminbi to the digitisation of corporate finance departments and processes. It is also attracting many mid-tier firms alongside the global multinationals.
"Companies of all sizes are looking to end manual processing in their finance and treasury functions in order to improve liquidity management and visibility of cash," observes Church. "An increasing number of corporates realise that efficiency comes through standardisation. And it's not just Fortune 500 firms. Particularly with the development of Alliance Lite2, our cloud-based secure connectivity solution, a lot of smaller firms are using SWIFT to access a wide range of standardised message and file types as well as related services and infrastructures."
Sibos in Boston also boasts a one-day Investment Manager Forum alongside the more established Market Infrastructure Forum. With some of the world's largest custodians and money managers located in the city and across its Massachusetts hinterland, there may well be a Boston accent to many of the sessions across the two streams.
Around 500 investment managers already connect to the SWIFT network, and Church believes changes in the global securities market infrastructure will see a growth in both SWIFT securities market traffic and the range of services that investment managers and market infrastructure providers source from SWIFT.
"Look at TARGET2-Estimating, for example. We can help ensure the transition is as smooth as possible but we need to consider the post-migration environment too: how best to serve central securities depositories from a resilience perspective. And we also need to better understand and explore what securities compliance services will be required," he posits. "For investment managers, automation will be even more critical to competitiveness, which is why SWIFT is investing in areas such as corporate actions, post-trade matching and collateral efficiency."
With so much going on - and we haven't even mentioned Bill Gates' closing plenary speech - it's no surprise that SWIFT expects Boston to be another great Sibos.
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