The SFOA Conference is in Survival Mode, But Has Hope
The SFOA’s Bürgenstock conference concluded Thursday without fanfare and without its CEO present. A sparsely attended lunch was the last event on the docket. SFOA CEO Daniel Day-Robinson was reportedly in the hospital after falling ill Thursday morning of an unknown ailment.
The conference reportedly attracted some 140 participants and some 40 regulators for a parallel program, according to SFOA sources. There was some cross-pollination of the regulators with the regular program, but not much, which was disappointing.
There was a moment of silence at the beginning in the memory of Paul-Andre Jacot, the longtime SFOA leader and Bürgenstock promoter.
While much was made of people and organizations who attended, the real story was about who did not come, or the manner in which those who attended did so. Come solo and get in and get out seemed to be a theme at the conference.
Walt Lukken, CEO of the FIA, was the lone participant from that organization, at least that I saw. No CFTC commissioners attended, but they did send the acting head of international affairs. A Canadian regulator had as much representation as the U.S. SEC and CFTC combined.
Where organizations would send contingents in the past, some sent just one representative. And some longstanding participating organizations, like the Chicago Federal Reserve, just did not show up. The press was also noticeably light, as was any real news.
The Lukken-led regulatory panel was interesting for the Italian accent of the ESMA representative as he said nothing new. Regurgitating previous press releases of regulatory changes doesn’t really grab my attention.
Lukken did get off the best line of the conference though when he pretended to ask Patrick Young to come up and summarize the topics of his panel at its end. Young had offered a dizzying, breathless, savant-like recap of his Crossfire panel discussion, which led off the conference, to the point that Day-Robinson tried unsuccessfully to pull him from the stage.
Eurex had some participants there, but they seemed to leave after the first day’s panels concluded.
I did not attend the final day’s panels after a sleepless night and some of my own stomach issues.
The conference is in survival mode and it showed. There were no off-site events to showcase Geneva or the Swiss culture. The meals were all offered as buffet and there was no sit-down gala end event, so CQG’s Most Interesting Man in the World Pat Kenny left his tuxedo at home, though he did bring his wife.
However, the organization is committed to changes outlined in a previous story about the SFOA. They reportedly were on the verge of accepting individual members, pending acceptance at the AGM Thursday, with Daniel Day-Robinson giving me a shout out in his opening comments, mentioning that I had committed to joining.
Day-Robinson has his goals. We shall see if he can get there. If he can, Bürgenstock will look a lot different. And that will be a very good thing. SFOA needs to move from survival to thriving once again, but it is a big challenge in a very competitive and ever-changing world.