Sibos 2020: Future artist
In my parents’ house, my sister has a sign on what used to be her room and is now mine for reasons I won’t get into: “Future Artist”.
I’ve been seeing it so often, on/off, every time I was home. For decades.
And it was prophetic as, it turns out, the future is here. My sister manages a gallery and lives and breathes art.
For reasons I can’t explain, that sign came to my mind as I was browsing through this year’s Sibos programme. The Sibos unlike all others.
The one when we are apart, the one when the buzz and energy and togetherness have to be imagined. And as I was browsing through the programme there were sign posts familiar as my sister’s door. Session names: The Future of Money. Big Issue Debates. The View from the Top. Sibos TV. Big bank CEOs and Innotribe-endorsed non-banking visionaries. But that is not where my eyes paused.
As I browsed through sessions, endorsements, videos and testimonials my eye rested on names that unlocked treasure troves of memories and stories.
Do you know those guys?
Because I know those guys.
I have known them for years.
I met them right here. On Sibos land. It may have been a Sibos past. It may have been an industry challenge of old. It has been every Sibos since.
They were the Future Artists when we were holding Start-up Challenges – as we thought at first that it was up to them to prove themselves to us.
They were the Future Artists as we were holding Industry Challenges – as we realised that the hard thing was not for them to come up with a good idea but for us to work out what to do with it.
We are still working it out. And they are still here.
In fact, now they are still pitching and hustling as part of the Perfect Pitch competition.
And part of me wonders why.
They have come such a long way over the last few years.
Meaty partnerships. Clients. Growth.
And part of me is happy that they are on the kids’ table still. On the front foot. With all the worries and anxieties that growth and aspiration bring on their wake, sure, but with the hunger, energy and burning desire to do… what… because I am sure it is not to cross the room to the other side of the table where the big banks and the big vendors answer the big questions the way they always have.
Thought Machine is here pitching and nothing about its stake makes you think, “these guys want to grow up to be Temenos“. We don’t need another Temenos. And they are not here to take out Temenos. They are a different animal, a different breed. This is a different era.
Transformation is nowhere near done. We have a long long way and a lot of hard work ahead.
And we need to find new mental spaces and tools with which to parse the world because incumbent vs challenger and Big Boy vs Start-up lacks nuance. And, if anything, that’s what you feel when you hear the pitches. Especially of the guys for whom this is not their first rodeo.
And, apologies to the other guys. I confess I homed in on my friends’ pitches. Even though I know their story. Because I miss them. Because I have been cheering on their growth for so long. Because maybe, once, long ago, I had a hand in crafting a slide, a story. And it feels personal.
So let me tell you what I saw.
I saw growing companies. I saw ambitious professionals. I saw evolving stories.
I saw people who are no longer pleading to be believed but hustling for growth. With or without you. That last bit is mine. They didn’t say that. They are super nice people and solid professionals and despite the times their prospective banking clients have doubted and questioned and potentially belittled their vision, these guys rallied, explained, persisted. And succeeded.
I have seen them do it.
I see them still doing it.
Now success is not an end state.
And if you ask them, they will probably give you a long litany of things they wish they had done. Things they are doing next. Things they are yet to do.
They are hungry. They are dynamic. They have plans.
And they are here.
Pitching and hustling not because they need to get themselves on the corporates’ radars but because it works. Being here, at Sibos, works.
It generates business and it generates good feedback that helps with business elsewhere and it builds the contacts that build the partnerships that consolidate the business.
How do I know?
Because I’ve been watching them.
These very guys, walking into the room years ago as Future Artists. Full of dreams and aspirations and hope. I’ve watched them stay the course and weather the storm when so many of their cohorts did not.
Because for every company I can say “I met those guys years ago” there are about ten per cohort that are no longer here. The artist never came to be. So when I see these guys hustling, despite their growth, and staying on the “always pitching” side of the room despite having proven themselves by now, I feel a weird sense of pride.
Because the story is not over.
But the future is here. And these guys are it.
By Leda Glyptis
Leda Glyptis is FinTech Futures’ resident thought provocateur – she leads, writes on, lives and breathes transformation and digital disruption.
She is a recovering banker, lapsed academic and long-term resident of the banking ecosystem.
All opinions are her own. You can’t have them – but you are welcome to debate and comment!