Insight & Analysis

Highlights of 2021: Sibos embraces change, innovation and diversity across the board

Published: Jan 2022

Continuing our coverage of the latest industry developments and highlights from 2021 is a look at last year’s Sibos which came at an interesting time in more than one sense. Last year’s theme was Recharging Global Finance and focused on digital acceleration, managing risk, transforming technology and banking on change. Against a backdrop of ongoing adversity that the world is facing and as the conference was delivered digitally for the second time, there was a real focus on adaptability and purpose.

Blurred images of a conference hall

DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) have long proven fairly elusive for the banking and finance industries. However, 2021’s Sibos virtual conference, if it is anything to mark the industry by, seemed to herald the dawn of a new chapter. Panels were diverse across the board and conversations around gender equality and inclusion in all its forms abounded. Treasury Today Group’s Sophie Jackson, Women in Treasury lead, was delighted to be invited back to speak to Sibos TV for a third time in 2021 and the conversation around content highlights focused on the inclusion that pervaded the conference.

Elsewhere, the week was full of innovative content. 19,000 delegates dialled in from across the world to attend the four-day conference. Social purpose is critical for financial organisations looking to survive and the importance of SWIFT at this critical time of collaboration. There were three pillars within the broader content theme; imagining the future of financial services, geopolitics and international trade, which were the context to all conversations.

Banking the unbanked and focusing firmly on climate change and sustainability, Sibos reflected the mood not just of the industry but of society at large in 2021. Mark Carney, former Governor of the Bank of England amongst other roles and currently the UN Special Envoy on Climate Change in Finance, reflected the push for the industry to take the challenges of sustainability seriously and embed this across the field.

2021’s Sibos reflected the seismic shifts that have taken place at the heart of the financial industry. Sibos is a chance to take the pulse of the industry on the most prescient issues of the moment. From the opening messages of SWIFT CEO Javier Perez-Tasso, it was great to see issues like diversity and sustainability being centred, as was the case with the majority of conversations from the conference, including banking the unbanked and using the power of the imagination to drive the future of financial innovation.

Women of SIBOS is a topical pillar of the annual conference, which resonates with Treasury Today Group’s own Women in Treasury initiative and we have been delighted to share the results of our annual study as well as our thoughts on progress in the industry from time to time with the community gathered at Sibos. 2021 saw these conversations occurring front and centre of the programming and we were very excited to see how quickly this has happened. As the end of 2021 approached and Sibos came to a close, there was a note of optimism for what’s to come next this year with regards to the topics covered, and even with real hopes that the next Sibos will again be held in person in Europe in 2022. The collective experiences of the last two years means that a physical event shepherds us into a new moment rather than taking us back to the past.

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