Like every autumn, SOFE is here. For me it is always the biggest opportunity to meet friends, make new friends and have possibility to discuss SWIFT related stuff. This was my third SOFE so I believe I can compare.
This time SOFE was moved to Frankfurt, financial hearth of Germany. Organizational aspect of conference was on high level like SWIFT do. Excellent food (like 2 years ago), accommodation in same hotel, off-site dinner etc.
Each year there is some conference topic. This time it was Solving operational challenges –
Unlocking the power of collaboration. Well, they need to bring some topic anyway and actually I haven’t recognized any difference in presentations with previous years.
It is still the same. There are few panel discussion where the quality varies. This year there was really good presentation from CIO of Commerzbank Stephan Mueller. He tried to predict the future of SWIFT, how he see it, how governments and banks will be closer and closer and he had really nice way of criticism.
Some negatives. I don’t like how SWIFT misused conference for their sales activities. About half of so called Break-Out sessions (1,5 h presentations) were just sales presentations. There were just few really technical topics. Sometimes it looks like that halls were full of managers which cannot attend SIBOS where their bosses went so at least SOFE.
Fortunately, it has been promised to bring more technical topics next time. Great!
Some positives. The core of SOFE are people. SWIFT world is relatively small and fragmented and this occasion needs to be utilized on maximum. It means sometimes sleepless nights and a lot of drinks. However this creates very nice atmosphere where a lot of discussions happens. Always good tip how to start discussion is about complaining SWIFT which is in some areas de facto monopoly and certainly people do not like this. First night I have enough courage to say no at 2 a.m. and do not follow my friends to red light district area because I was really exhausted.
Frankfurt itself is a nice city but there are not too much historical buildings to see.There are few skyscrapers instead. I have visited Main tower, only one which has public observatory point on the top. It’s 200m high. Next year, sightseeing will be much more challenging because SOFE in 2013 will be organized in Paris.