Back to School @ Sibos

The SWIFT Institute brought academics to Sibos in Boston and will do so again at Sibos in Singapore

The SWIFT Institute was incredibly excited to have brought academics to last year’s Sibos programme held in Boston. Called Sibos University, this forum featured leading academics giving 30-minute lectures on a wide range of topics impacting the global financial industry.

Academics from universities around the world attended including Harvard, MIT, Bentley, University of California San Diego, George Mason University, University of Delaware, University of Toronto, Western University, University of Tilburg, University of New South Wales, Coventry Law School, Manchester Business School and the London School of Economics & Political Science.

A wide array of topics were covered including data privacy, market infrastructures and virtual currencies, cybercrime, the cloud, investor behaviour and fund management, mobile money, productivity, women in finance, standards and financial inclusion, as well as a panel session on regulation.

A few highlights from the week include:

  • Professor Lynne Markus from Bentley University discussed the organisational and managerial barriers to cloud adoption by banks, stating that, “Many financial institutions are in multiple lines of business and as a result they tend to be quite managerially decentralised. If you look all the way across the banking industry, there’s a fair amount of scope for improvement in IT governance and along with that would come many organisational benefits.” Touching on the traditional security concerns the financial industry has with cloud computing, Markus contended that these security issues still exist with or without cloud: “Tell me that banks do not already pose attractive targets to ‘bad guys’. Tell me that banks don’t have to worry about the privacy of their customer data.” Markus concluded that the solution would be to design systems allowing for the benefits of both centralised management and decentralised governance and execution, needing the participation of the financial industry as well as regulators. 
  • An eminent panel of academics including Stuart Weinstein from Coventry Law School, Andrei Kirilenko, from MIT Sloan School of Management, Michael King from Western University, and Hester Peirce from George Mason University, aimed to demystify regulators and regulations for those financial institutions operating across multiple financial markets. International regulatory decisions are often highly opaque, devised by a group of unelected technocrats. King explained, “Most international regulation is decided upon by the Group of 20 (G-20). It can sometimes appear that this regulation is decided by politicians, but it’s not.” Kirilenko advised that private meetings and letters are not the best way to communicate with regulators, suggesting instead the industry that the industry should be “holding round tables, inviting regulators to discuss the issues at conferences and other ways of making sure this is on the public record. You must have a trail of information that they and the general public can see. Working in private is not effective.”
  • Susan Christoffersen, associate professor of finance at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, spoke about investor behaviour and its influence on fund management, exploring whether it is rational or irrational behaviour that makes investors respond to past performance. Christoffersen pointed out that, “With increasing fees, relatively their performance started to decline and who do you think left the fund? It was the most price-sensitive investors. The people who are left at the end are actually a very, very valuable set of investors. These investors are going to stay with you.” One method to stem the flow of incoming and outgoing money is to use a broker to sell your product. “As an asset manager or fund manager, it is important to know what are the main factors that are going to cause that money to come in and to leave,” Christoffersen observed.

Sibos University received much positive feedback regarding the quality of the academics willing to communicate their theories on such a diverse array of topics. We are thrilled to announce that a variety of academics will once again be at Sibos, this October in Singapore, under the banner of the SWIFT Institute. In the coming months the full agenda for Sibos will be announced, including the content involving academics.

Peter Ware, Director of the SWIFT Institute, commented, “During this period of intense regulatory and technological pressures, it is more crucial than ever that debate within the financial services industry should not be performed in isolation. Bringing together the brightest minds from both the academic and business worlds means that each can learn from the other in order to create new and workable policies.”