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Party spirit still runs high despite a very realistic mood

What a difference a year makes. Only this week, we have seen the Financial Services sector go through further turmoil and in the past 12 months, the news pages were filled with bail-outs, bankruptcies and emergency funding with Lehmann Brothers and Merrill Lynch being the latest victims of this ongoing crisis as the news broke on the first day of SIBOS 2008.

I feel that SIBOS, in many ways, has already been an indicator of the economic climate which was reinforced by the results of our Experian Payments’ alternative SIBOS survey which attempted to capture the mood at this year’s Vienna conference as it is ‘business unusually’ for many of us these days. With the buoyant years appearing to be over, our survey clearly revealed that attitudes have reverted to a desire for quality instead of quantity. However, there is also still a good level of optimism and instead of giving in to the gloomy outlook, the mood is one of purpose and determination.

The survey revealed that with the financial markets being in turmoil, SIBOS delegates consider the mood to be rather realistic (56%), whereas 30% of participants give way to the gloomy outlooks saying that the atmosphere is somewhat subdued. However, 10% of respondents proved to be born optimists suggesting that despite recent news announcements, the event seems to be a success for new business deals – please note that most respondents were interviewed past 4pm when the day’s wind-down process was well and truly under way.

And what does the typical Sibos delegate in Vienna look like? The typical Sibos delegate is male and reaches beyond 6ft (57%) with greying (29%), non applicable (11%) or blond (28%) hair with the location of the event in central Europe perhaps being the decisive factor in the number of ‘big shots’ and fair-haired attendees this year. In terms of the dress code, the majority of visitors went for the classic look, choosing black (80%) and brown (16%) shoes for the occasion combined with a red tie (41%).

Despite the majority of participants seeing red, optimistic yellow was the second favourite tie colour of the week suggesting that for at least for 14% of delegates the future is still bright. This, however, did not translate into the stand messaging on display where corporate cautiousness was the order of the day with only 18% claiming to be leaders in their chosen field of expertise.

77% of women observed were dressed to impress and not worried about sore feet at the end of the day, wearing high heels throughout SIBOS week.

SIBOS is traditionally a big investment for exhibitors and the individual stalls not only serve practical and functional purposes but their exterior is clearly meant to impress just as much as the experts on the stand. The accolade for the most impressive stand therefore went to Deutsche Bank with 39% of respondents claiming that this was not only the most impressive stall but certainly the most attractive with its continual flow of food and drink supplies. With 34% of the votes, the SWIFT stand made it to second place whereas the SmartStream stand which resembled a Vodka bar, was the favourite for 27%.

Even during the less optimistic times, partying has never been neglected and SIBOS 2008 is no exception. The most anticipated party of the week was the actual SIBOS party on Thursday night with an overwhelming majority of 82% looking forward to celebrating a week of hard work maintaining a straight posture at the stand. On second and third positions respectively came the Reuters (11%) and SunGard (7%) parties.

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