Not my first time in Liverpool…
but my first ACT Annual Conference in this wonderful city.
Things got off to a great start on Monday, Charlotte Morgan our Council member joining me at a meeting at the FCA after which we travelled to Liverpool together. Then shared a taxi with the marketing team to the exhibition centre so I wasn’t ‘billy-no-mates’, discovering along the way that it was Connor’s birthday! On arrival I saw my daughter who’d come up from Uni to help out the events team and then had a walk-around to get a feel for the place.
The exhibition hall was bustling and some really great new stands this year including our shiny new ACT Hub. I then got to see some clever engineering and discovered the two smaller halls actually can rotate to increase the size of the main auditorium. Very clever!
Then I had another treat – a dinner in the Liver building, which has a fascinating history, hosted by Citi. Mark Tweedie looked after us all very well, and Sir Ivan Rogers gave a great dinner talk. I also had the pleasure of walking back to the hotel with Sir Ivan during which he shared some further insights into the current political scene…
Sir Ivan’s keynote set a high standard which just continued.
One particular treat was having 4 FCA staff join us on a panel on Market Abuse Regulation – and it was our first all-female panel I believe!
Some of the slides Catherine Porter of CBRE showed in her case study on cash management were in high demand. Elsewhere we had a great and very open discussion on mental health and wellbeing where panellists joined from Lloyds, MUFG, PwC and Redbridge.
The day was over too fast, and after some champagne with Insight Investments and some Frankenwein with Bayern (brings back memories of when I worked in that region, in a small town which I discovered is the hometown of Svenja from Chatham Financial. Small world!) we herded our 830 guests onto coaches to Liverpool Cathedral. Great George was ringing to greet us, the 4 tonne tenor bell, of the heaviest ‘ring’ in the world, and the organ played part of Widor’s Toccata (those bass pipes! In fact, everything about the Cathedral was on a very large scale!).
At the end of a lovely evening I got to catch up with an old friend Yazzy, who had come from the States for the conference, and Winny, over a cup of tea. Possibly why I was in good time for the Brexit-themed treasurer-only session at 8:00 the next morning.
The Bank of England joined us for a good session on risk-free replacement rates, and the Green and Sustainable Finance session had a great panel including Tideway treasurer and a representative from Prince Charles’ Accounting for Sustainability initiative. A Future Leaders in Treasury meet-up complemented the various careers and leadership sessions, and a look at PSD2 was also well worth attending.
The second and final day came to a fantastic close with first Dave Coplin who talked about automation vs intelligence and quality vs efficiency, and then David Meade whose leadership insights were shared with snappy humour and a few confounding mentalist ‘tricks’.
Exhausted hearing about it? Well I certainly slept well! My thoughts, now turn, to how I can apply all that I saw and heard both at the conference and over the past 15 months which is that our unique selling point in terms of our events, publications and qualifications, comes down to the tight bonds we have with treasurers the world over. We are the leading advocate for treasury, and because of that and because we work closely with our members to understand the issues, challenges and opportunities they are experiencing, we can ensure that everything we do is highly relevant and of the highest quality. We produce events such as this one with the confidence that what we deliver will be topical, thought-provoking, and will both focus on and indeed profile the thought leaders of today.
A huge thank you to our co-lead sponsors of the event, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and NatWest, as well as all our other sponsors and exhibitors, our guest speakers and panellists and of course our treasury community which came out here in full force this year!
But I cannot finish without acknowledging the fantastic ACT team who made all this possible.
Feedback has been overwhelming and hugely positive and I am immensely proud of the professionalism, integrity and commitment which make my team absolute superstars. Thank you all – you have outdone yourselves again!