I’m fast approaching my third decade of attending financial industry conferences, and quite honestly, I’ve become bored and weary of most of them. Perhaps I’ve heard too many times the typical conference pitch all using the same catch phrases: “collaboration,” “education,” “insight,” and “contacts.” I know I’ve spent way too many days in empty exhibit halls or watching lightly attended panel discussions that offer little more than self-serving infomercials.
So, at the risk of insulting many associations and conferences, I’ll say what many have thought for decades, but have been reluctant to share:
Most traditional financial industry conferences and associations are a waste of time, resources and money…
Except for one… Association for Financial Technology (AFT).
I believe AFT is, by far, the best association and conference for delivering real value to its members. It is a tightknit organization of fintech companies, consultants and service providers that gather twice a year to discuss any and everything that’s happening in the fintech world. AFT is the G8 of banking technology; however, it is exclusive only in the fact that AFT hasn’t done much (until recently) in its 40+ year history to aggressively promote itself to the industry, yet all are welcome. In my opinion, AFT is the only conference where the words “peer,” “networking,” “fellowship,” and “industry insight” are real and meaningful.
AFT’s spring and fall summits are a “who’s who” of the financial industry’s best, most influential minds and companies. It is a détente where even competitor companies enthusiastically collaborate to solve industry problems and clear common pathways for new technology initiatives. In an industry that continues to grow in regulations, obstacles and complexities, AFT members share common threads of information, technologies and resources needed to achieve continued success for all its member companies.
If you’re unfamiliar with AFT, your skepticism of the previous paragraph is appreciated, because I too was once a non-believer – until I went to an AFT Summit and actually saw its members engaged in real and substantive work. Folks, this is the Star Chamber of fintech. I’ve seen lifelong friendships that were forged there. And company alliances and partnerships are often born there. In many ways, AFT is the spring from whence the headwaters of all fintech flow. This may sound trite, but it is true. All fintech companies are welcome to join and participate – startups, private, public, small, large, domestic, or international. Likewise, AFT’s board consists of a diverse group of member companies.
As they say on late night infomercials: But wait, there’s more! Unlike the big industry shows traditionally held in institutional-sized conference centers, the venue sites of AFT meetings promote a more personal setting. The summits are typically held at smaller, quieter resorts where members and their spouses are encouraged to stay and play together before and after conference meetings. AFT’s most recent Fall Summit was held at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs – an incredible five-star resort.
If you are a part of the fintech ecosystem, I encourage you to check out AFT at AFTweb.com