Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Making history in Boston

Guest blogger Susan Feinberg, research director, wholesale banking, TowerGroup, applauds the growing diversification of the SWIFT community since banks last met in Boston back in 1994.

At the opening of the first ever Sibos Corporate Forum, Marilyn Spearing of Deutsche Bank pleaded with the delegates to make their voices heard and help SWIFT and its member banks better understand how to maximize the SWIFTNet Corporate Access value proposition.

With over 100 corporate delegates representing 65 different companies, the Corporate Forum is evidence that this is a very different Sibos community than the one that last met in Boston in 1994.

I was a banker back then, representing one of the venerable Boston institutions that have since gone the way of M&A. What I remember distinctly about my first Sibos was the lack of diversity - lots of men, mostly middle aged, wearing black or grey suits and except for a few technology sales reps., they were pretty much all bankers like me. Well, not that much like me, come to think of it. I also remember being shocked at seeing bottles of wine on the table at lunch time. Our Puritan forefathers would not have approved.

I think it's appropriate that Boston - with its rich historical legacy at the center of the American Revolution - is the location for another kind of revolution. The creation of a new community within SWIFT in which the corporates are encouraged to have a dialogue with their banks, with SWIFT and with the technology community to make SWIFTNet a viable solution for more corporates.

Make no mistake, those delegates are already heeding Marilyn's call and have spent two days expressing their views on everything from endorsing the "SWIFT button" concept that we heard about in the opening plenary, to the need for bank participation in the supply chain, to the need for true global standards.

This might sound like no big deal to some, but to me it is an indication of the diversification that has occurred within the SWIFT community since the last visit to Beantown.

The highlight of Sibos for me so far was a conversation with one of the corporate delegates from a Fortune 100 company when she shared her process for identifying those banks that will support SWIFTNet connectivity for the company starting next year. She said, "We asked our representative from each bank whether they could support us on SWIFT only once. If we didn't get the right answer the first time, we moved on.We don't have time to educate our bankers about SWIFTNet."

Ultimately for this industrial giant, it will be SWIFTNet connectivity or nothing. Wake up call to the banks: your client facing representatives better be equipped to provide the answer the client is looking for or you'll find yourself with at least one less major corporate client.

Oh, and one more thing, please join me in wishing the hometown team g
ood luck in the playoffs starting tonight at Fenway Park. GO RED SOX.

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