This article was written by David Gyori, fintech writer, speaker, researcher, consultant and trainer. He is the founder and CEO of Banking Reports, and a member of the Panel of Judges of the European FinTech Awards.
I attended the Finance Magnates London Summit on the 14th and 15th of November and I enjoyed it tremendously. I participate in numerous financial services-related events around the globe and I find this one to have a very special additional flavor, something which makes it outstanding and memorable. In this post I will try to analyze what this special added value is as I dissect the ten aspects of excellence of this outstanding event.
The event focuses on a very specific industry: forex trading. Yet, this industry is global, has multiple sub-industries and is closely linked to other almost-core activities such as trading other assets, robo advisors, AI algorithms, martech (marketing technology), compliance, customer service and others. The focus is perfect, the world of forex defines a distinct, clear, yet sizeable and flexible ecosystem. This ecosystem is excellently represented at the Finance Magnates London Summit.
The main day of the event was the 15th of November, Tuesday, but it was preceded by an opening party the day before. This party was designed to serve as a networking blitz and it was perfect to tune participants in to the main day of focus.
The Brewery was the perfect venue for the Summit. It is easy to reach, central, elegant, exciting, well-equipped (adequate cloakroom, large foyer, many different size rooms, etc.), well organized and comfortable. It is smart that the opening party was held at the same venue, because people tune in to the atmosphere of the venue the day before the full-day event.
4. Multiple subjects, multiple layers
Many events I attend are linear and have a repetitive, single genre nature. For example, 25 minute speeches, followed by 5 minute question sessions, divided into 90 minute intervals by 30 minute coffee-breaks. Organized? Indeed. Boring? Of course.
The FMLS event takes a very different course – there are multiple activities covering multiple subjects going on in parallel. Seminars, workshops, panels, speeches, demos, product launches, nearly 100 company stands and booths, people doing business, exchanging views, arguing, discussing, eating, drinking, taking promotional souvenirs, learning about the industry and shaping its future, sometimes being diverted by live music or other brilliant entertainment (see Lior Suchard). This makes this event really lively, pulsing, friendly and individualized (I bet that all 1500+ participants each engaged in totally individual patterns of activities).
5. Hands-on CEO
Michael Greenberg, the CEO of Finance Magnates, was constantly present at the event. This is a double-edged sword; if it is done well it can be superb, but if not it can be problematic.
This time it was done well and even more, excellently. The risk is micro-management; there are few larger mistakes than a CEO trying to control everything directly. But there are few larger advantages than a CEO being directly available for the industry, approving his colleagues’ work by his supporting presence and standing strongly in the background as a last (but directly and transparently available) resort of responsibility in case anything goes wrong. The type and extent of involvement that Mr Greenberg took at this event is what I would expect from other CEOs at events of this magnitude.
6. Awards, co-opetition, frenemies
One of the reasons that I love Finance Magnates is that they cherish competition. This is reflected by the awards that they distributed within the industry, based on votes coming from the industry itself. This culture of competition is essential, but many events miss out on it. Overall: competition is what defines an industry.
Besides competition, cooperation, co-marketing and communication were strongly present among market players at this event. And the very mixture of the competitive and the cooperative approach creates the highly constructive phenomenon of co-opetition. Co-opetition is the type of mixture of competition and cooperation which makes innovative industries evolve and grow.
Co-opetition is the unique atmosphere where you hear people from different companies talk in a competitive, yet cooperative way, which often creates personal ‘frenemies’ – situations where people are just as much friends as enemies.
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7. Realistic convenience
On Tuesday, key events (panels, workshops, etc.) started at 10.30 am, which is much better than 9 am (or sometimes 8.30 am). Registration was available the day before, so when most people arrived at the venue to attend the main day of events on Tuesday they just had to walk in. Very convenient, a much better and more relaxed start than most events.
This convenience was complemented by the good quality (and large quantity) of coffee available at multiple locations within the venue. Maybe it sounds like something unimportant or obvious, but it isn’t. I attend many events which fail to provide easy, quick and abundant access to coffee. This event scored very highly on my coffee-meter.
8. Lior Suchard
Lior Suchard was born on the 6th of December 1981 in Tel Aviv. He is currently the most famous mentalist globally. His shows are on the largest US TV channels, and he is admired by Jay Leno, Larry King and performs with A-list stars in the United States.
Attendees at the event were extremely lucky: Lior performed two short performances and a full scale show for them. Attending three Lior Suchard shows is a huge gift from life. The tricks are mind-boggling, but the narrative he performs with – the way he talks, the way he communicates, the way he creates the arc of the show, the way he manages expectations, the way he keeps contact with the audience – is even more remarkable.
He is not a scary or authoritative magician, but he is a friendly and supporting genius. His motto is: “Always think positive thoughts because you never know who is reading them!” We will – in the coming decades – hear much more about Lior. He is a very remarkable person. And what a genius move from Finance Magnates to invite him!!!
9 and 10 are my most important points about the event:
9. Attendees and speakers
In terms of the attendees the main observation is the huge diversity: from Australia to Poland, from 1 person firms to 100,000 employee global financial giants, all sorts of people were present. The very important common trait between these people is the (direct or indirect) involvement in the forex industry and the intellectual, as well as constructive, attitude.
Regarding the speakers, my favorites were: Nicc Lewis, Tom Gillie, Damien Comolli, Kevin Rodgers, Marc Burki, Drew Niv and Marc Zaffran. But due to the diverse nature of the event, others may have totally different preferences and observations.
What the event gave in terms of content was a very clear and forward-looking overview of a complicated and global industry. The opportunities, the challenges, the regulatory aspects were all brought to light. This is an industry under growing regulatory pressure (and MIFID II is coming) and it is an industry of survival: surviving the SNB event, the Brexit event and most recently the Trump event.
10. The Finance Magnates team
The Finance Magnates Team was present with over 10 people at the event. The event was so well – and realistically – organized in advance that they could mostly concentrate to the participants. It was also apparent that they could work very well together as a team. As easy and swift as things seemed to go on the surface, it was probably a hundred times harder to really get this large event going with such quality.
Respect, thankfulness and kudos to the Finance Magnates team for this! Probably extremely hard and extensive work in the background!
My conclusion and message for all readers is simple: see you at the 2017 Finance Magnates London Summit! And my conclusion for myself: I have to try the other Finance Magnates events as well (e.g. in Tel Aviv and Cypus), because if they are the same quality as this one, than I have to be there!