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A Davos Day

I’ve watched Davos from afar for years now and often wondered what it would be like to be there so, when I got an invite this year, I took it straight away. The United Nations Media Group asked if I could join them and talk about sustainable finance, which I did.

A short clip here:


If you can’t be bothered watching the clip – or cannot access it – the whole thing was summarised in these three tweets:



To be honest, I went along more for the networking and maybe rubbing shoulders with Angela Merkel, Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg, than necessarily wanting to be in the Davos crowd. Suffice to say that the rubbing shoulders bit never happened. Far too much security in this place than let a rebel with a cause like me step onto the stage. However, the networking was very good.

I would kind of liken it to a Money 2020 or SIBOS for the ultra-high net worth, rich and powerful and, instead of having the whole thing in the EXCEL Centre or Venetian Hotel, they take over a whole town.

Davos, until the week before the World Economic Forum (WEF), is a quiet skiing and tourist village in the middle of nowhere. During the WEF week, the coffee shop becomes the ABSA tent …

The wine bar becomes the Polish Village …

And the ski boot stall becomes IBM’s Quantum Computing Centre.

Note: that’s me with a Quantum Computer

By the start of the following week, they’re back to being a coffee shop, wine bar and ski boot stall.

Nevertheless, I did wonder why a meeting point that started 50 years ago could become so successful. After all, it’s set in one of the most goddam difficult places to get to. The nearest airport is three hours away and, in my case, I had to get there by train and bus over a three-hour journey.

Then I twigged it.

Only the ultra-high net worth rich and powerful can make it here easily. Arriving at Zurich airport by private jet and then whisked to Davos by helicopter, the millionaires and billionaires of this world – this year almost 120 billionaires attended – get there nice and easily, stay at the best hotels, with a minimum $5,000 a night room cost, and then take the family for a nice week skiing. That’s the way to do it.

Unfortunately, for the 3,000 other plebs coming here, it’s a slog. Then you finally get to Davos and it’s all a bit quiet, if you ignore the guns and helicopters of the Polizia* and the never-ending cavalcade of black Mercedes, BMW’s and Audi’s up and down the streets.

That’s because everyone’s indoors listening to some old guy ranting about climate denial and how great America is, whilst everyone outside is learning, talking and networking. In the course of just seven hours, I met two Chief’s of Staff of major banks, the Head of Marketing for a major Chinese internet giant, the Chief Economist for one of the world’s major monetary policy firms, the founder of a large American technology company and his CEO … and more.

Try and do that anywhere else, and that’s why people come to Davos. It’s also why people go to Money 2020 and SIBOS. It’s not about the theatre on the stage. It’s about the fist bumps and handshakes outside.

Anyways, in the spirit of giving y’all more of a flavour of the day, here’s a few more touristic snaps …


* Behind a 10 metre tall tower in the centre of Davos was a guy with a machine gun, hidden by a curtain, ready to spray the street with bullets if needed and, on top of all the roofs, were snipers and marksmen.


About Chris M Skinner

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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