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Corporates are the Spice of the Banking Life

It’s only Wednesday and yes, I’m outta here already.  Now, you may
be wondering why Chris is dumping out of SIBOS before the big Party …
not my choice my friends.  I’m off to Hong Kong for another party.
Sitting at Logan airport having a final Sam Adams, I reflect on this
year’s SIBOS and realise that it’s been short and sweet and
interesting.  SWIFT are stretching themselves in all sorts of
directions: SEPA, Corporates, Securities, BRIC economies, Insurance …
some wonder if it could be a stretch too far. 

Maybe that’s why
we are seeing a survey on the MySibos website to find out where SWIFT
should focus.  One of the questions is “What would a SWIFT offensive
mean to you?”, and I wanted to say if Lazaro Campos told me to get
lost, but Lazaro would never say that to me, would he?

answer was a SWIFT offensive would be if they really got corporates on
board.  And that’s corporates – not IT vendors or consultancies – but
CORPORATES.   And that should include SME’s, not just the big boys.
This seems to be the mantra for the week, not just today, and will be
the mantra for the year and for years to come.

Maybe that’s why I’ve been chairing and debating supply chains all week.  Supply chains is a big deal – so much so that the Financial Services Club
has launched its very own Supply Chain Forum, chaired by Eric Sepkes –
and everyone here is working out what supply chains mean.  How does a
bank fit into the corporate network and how do the corporates fit into
the bank network?  What should SWIFT do to engage with corporates and
should they go direct or through the banks?   Do corporates want to
engage with SWIFT and what role do they want to take? 

are questions that are fundamental to our industry today as they change
the dynamics of our industry, how we play and who we play with.
Therefore, if we think about what we may be discussing at SIBOS 2008 in
Vienna, I expect we shall still be discussing these fundamentals:

  • Why are Banks relevant to corporates?
  • What do Banks do that makes their customers’ business easier?
  • What are the services a bank can deliver to these clients that will differentiate their business?
  • What are the SWIFT initiatives that are required to support this?
  • How
    far can SWIFT push their franchise into the world’s financial
    activities to make their customers – BANKS – be easier to do business
  • Why should Corporates want to be at the table?
  • What is the real role they should take?
  • Who is the person from the Corporation who should be represented, and are they the guest of their Bank or of SWIFT?
  • Can SWIFT enable the Banker and their Corporate Client to work in harmony?

That last point is the most fundamental of all: can SWIFT enable the Banker and their Corporate Client to work in harmony?

will be my theme for SIBOS 2008 and yes, we have discussed many of
these areas this year but I still feel we lack a real corporate
engagement with the banking community and, until that challenge is
resolved, we will continue to be frustrated at our inability to solve
the corporate’s needs.

I guess it brings me back to my contrived little Spice Girls theme of the week (once you start a theme, it’s hard to stop) and have a final think about corporates in this context.

some banks, the Corporate Client is Scary Spice.  For these banks they
are in danger of being irrelevant as they shouldn’t be frightened of
their customer. 

If the Corporate Client is Posh Spice, then
the bank is irrelevant as they shouldn’t be too respectful or humble to
all of their customer needs, wishes and desires. 

If the Corporate Client is Sporty Spice, then the bank is irrelevant as the customer will move too fast for them to keep up. 

If the Corporate Client is Ginger Spice, then they could turn ugly so beware. 

Most Corporate Clients are more likely Baby Spice.  Not
the Baby Spice who throws tantrums (as I do), but the Baby Spice who is
learning to find their feet in this new world of bank connectivity. Banks have to help them find those feet and learn to walk with confidence in the financing of their supply chain needs.      

Just like Negroponte wants to give every child a laptop, banks need to give all of their corporate clients a connection.  Then they have to teach them how to use that connection and maximise its efficiency and effectiveness.

So the theme for SIBOS 2008?  Howsabout: Corporates are the Spice of the Banking Life.

About Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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