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The community tool for conference attendees gets tweaked over the years, but always provides much useful intel for anyone wanting to maximise business development at Sibos. What can the meta data here tell us about the second post-covid Sibos this month?  (and what might it preview about Sibos’s dramatic move to Beijing in 2024?)

Jade Bestley, Yvonne Maher and I will be on the ground from Cognito, helping clients and making new connections.  We hope to meet many readers attending Sibos, but in the meantime here’s our take from some quick attendee analysis.

As of end August, 5,964 have registered on the community site.  This is probably two thirds of the likely final total number attending, but doesn’t capture later registrations, nor those who haven’t chosen to put up their profiles online.  With that caveat, it’s possible to look at some trends, given that delegates are identified by areas of expertise, areas of interest, function and institution type.

In terms of interest areas, the most puzzling question is this: who are the 13% not interested in AI, and do their employers know?  But beyond that, the fact that only 62% are interested in payments reflects Sibos’s successful diversification from its payments origins.  Swift might be disappointed though that the percentages interested in securities and in corporates (both 25%) were not higher.  Only 24% are interested in CBDCs (a topic now clearly overshadowed by AI for media attention).  Sustainable finance (the phrase used) was only of interest to 26%, which hardly surprises, since lending and financing is not at the heart of Sibos.

The “type of institution” tag was not filled in by many registering, but the number of attendees from custodians seems in decline (under 200, though may be around how people describe themselves, since commercial bank is another option). Only 30 claim to work for an exchange, which feels lower than in the past.  Fintech representation seems fairly healthy at around 370, and financial infrastructure looks stable at 260 or so. Asset management attendance seems thin, with six from Blackrock and three from Fidelity for example.

The numbers attending from an institution are no doubt a crude measure of the importance a firm puts on Sibos, but of interest.  The big banks in general have clearly sought to slim down their numbers of staff attending compared to pre-covid days, though some have pulled back more than others:

JP Morgan Chase          88

Wells Fargo                     80

Deutsche Bank              59

Citigroup                         52

BNP Paribas                    52

Bank of America           49

HSBC                                 47

ANZ                                   41

UBS                                   16

With Sibos in Beijing next year, you might expect a growing, state-encouraged Chinese presence in Toronto, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The four big China banks have had large (though often thinly manned) exhibition stands for a decade, but less presence online or speaking. The attendee numbers this year seem quite modest: under 20 people for both Bank of China and ICBI, and under ten for CCB and Agricultural Bank of China.  It’s hard to say if this means anything for Beijing.  What is a simple statement of fact is that the geopolitical mood music is now very different from where it was when Beijing was chosen.

From all this there are two main lessons for companies marketing their wares at Sibos:

Firstly, look at the trends in delegate interest areas and topics, as well as the conference agenda and speakers, to ensure that your marketing content and thought leadership align with the main trends at the event, ideally with some bigger picture material beyond your product.

Secondly, use the delegate directory well to target your business development meetings.  My profile on the site accurately portrays what Cognito does – providing comms and marketing services in main financial centers.  That has not prevented about 70 firms, many sizeable, contacting me to seek a meeting, under the misapprehension that I am anywhere close to a MQL (most could be MQLs for Cognito).  I don’t blame them completely, given that most attendees are at financial institutions, but it shows a spray-and-pray approach to securing new business meetings rather than a targeted one, which the delegate directory tool provides so readily.

Let’s go Sibos!