The Davos truce
#Davos and #WEF. These are the top trending hashtags amongst the financial community today according to Comtela, Cognito’s social PR platform which tracks the Twitter activity of more than 700 financial journalists. And you can place money on the fact that the prevalence of these hashtags will snowball as this year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting cranks up over the next few days.
Davos may have become famous for some of its more glamorous attendees – Mick Jagger was there a couple of years ago, Matt Damon and Goldie Hawn are due to attend this year, while Bono is pretty much a mainstay of the event – however as Gren Manuel points out in Financial News today, bankers still outnumber the entertainment A-list by some way.
The likes of J.P. Morgan, Citi, HSBC and Barclays will be out in force. But it isn’t just bankers who are making the journey to the Alpine resort. Last week, Quartz published an interactive graphic listing “everyone attending Davos this year”. Strictly speaking, the graphic only shows everybody in possession of one of the coveted white badges which are reserved for the most important delegates at the summit, but it makes interesting reading nevertheless.
It shows that beyond the banks, many of the major insurance companies, consulting firms, stock exchanges and financial technology providers have bought their tickets to the meeting. In terms of the global industries which fall under the financial services umbrella, it’s as close to a who’s who as you’ll find.
But why is Davos such a draw for the titans of financial services? At a time when most financiers remain reluctant to find themselves in the spotlight, it seems somewhat perverse that they would continue to attend an event as apparently ostentatious as Davos. As ever though, the reality is a little different from the media’s depiction.
While the attendee list is far from secret, the remoteness of the location and sheer cost of attending mean that Davos remains exclusive and largely discrete. High up in the Swiss Alps, meetings can take place which otherwise might be splashed across the global media.
That’s not to say that the media is excluded from the summit. Quite the opposite. Like the bankers, the business media gravitate to Davos en masse. Everybody from the BBC’s Robert Peston to Bloomberg’s Francine Lacqua to Financial Times editor Lionel Barber will be there, digging up the stories that matter at every opportunity. Or so you would think.
As with everything Davos-related, a code exists, and a truce of sorts occurs between the international media and the global business community. The approach taken by the press and broadcasters towards the banks in particular is far less combative than at other times in the year. In our experience, this is something which every reporter in Davos understands.
For every white-badge holder, there are just as many communications staff managing requests from reporters for meetings or comment. It is rare that a story comes out of Davos that hasn’t been weeks or months in the planning. Like the security that surrounds the resort, the media is locked down, seemingly just pleased to be there to rub shoulders with David Cameron and the Queen of Belgium.
Perhaps this goes some way to explaining why the financial services industry is so keen on Davos. It knows that for one week a year, it can get on with doing its day job without being subject to the various agendas of the world’s media.