There are just too many Supply Chain Finance Conferences

I get asked the question what supply chain finance conferences one should go to a lot. And really there are no shortage of conferences with that famous buzzword, no not blockchain, but supply chain finance.

The concept of supply chain finance has been around for awhile now, but it seems to have hit an inflexion point these last few years. Maybe its the fallout from the credit crisis that has driven companies to look for working capital optimization (sometimes in the form of pushing DPO) or maybe its just the technology now that provides greater efficiency and transparency in the use of working capital and the development and delivery of innovative supply chain solutions. But we are throwing FinTech around Supply Chain Finance conferences like that adds the dessert so desperately needed to inspire companies to roll out various techniques.

What I find lacking at these conferences is an interested audience of banks and corporates, telling each other how one operates that can be compelling and helpful. Seriously lacking.  Most bankers and consultants who speak about supply chain finance that I’ve met over the years are not credit trained, and don’t understand the complexities of capital structures, bankruptcy, workouts, etc. especially at middle market companies and larger.  And certainly the vendor community is not, and has very little understanding of capital structures other than why our technique will help make discount income.

I think we could all learn more with corporate attendance. How do corporations think about this stuff?  And you can learn how banks think about this stuff and you will learn not best practices, but how corporates think and operate and deal with these issues and you will learn what the gap is and how the banks operate.  That is a compelling reason to spend a some time at a conference beyond building your Linkedin network.

But I am not seeing it at these conferences. And now the rage is FinTech, and Blockchain, and other things which don't address the real structural capital and credit issues out there.  Once the agenda is sprinkled with these topics, Conference sponsors become equally responsible for another mundane but particularly not useful event.

Can someone build something that has value, and give us a real reason to engage?

So far, its’ been a missed opportunity, and maybe someone will get it right. Its not easy to put something like this together, but its most certainly worth the effort IMHO.

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Voices (4)

  1. Mike Hewitt:

    David, you’d be a welcome guest at the SCF Community Forum in Amsterdam on 29th November.

    Corporates certainly do attend, and in large numbers. There are certainly banks, fintechs, business schools and governments as well, but I completely agree with you that the debate only gets interesting when real corporates with real working capital or supply chain issues to solve get involved.

    There’s a thirst for information in this area and what corporates really want is to hear from other corporates who have been there and done it, not from banks and fintechs who have a product to promote. That’s what we try to give them, so only corporates can speak at these events, and that seems to work.

    Tony, we *do* encourage corporates to attend, many of them free of charge through our guest invitation programme, and last year we had companies such as Coca Cola, Ferrari, SABMIller, Lufthansa, Puma, 3, Philips, Shell, Heineken, Astra Zeneca and over 100 others.

    When we launched in Singapore for the first time last year we were overwhelmed with the response from corporates such as Toyota and Honeywell – so we’ll be back there in May 2017.

    You can register at or just contact me and I’ll send details.

    1. David Gustin:

      Believe me Mike and Tony I have tried to work with Conference promoters to get them to focus on the credit process and decisioning at a corporate and a bank. There is a way to lay out a one or two day program that would go well beyond the latest supply chain finance technique to push terms out or offer early pay to a vendor base.

      The problem is money. Conference promoters need Sponsors, and Sponsors control agenda and speaking slots.

      I have laid out programs for Conferences before Sponsors usurped the program and wanted to control the narrative. This kind of thing needs to be planned for a longer sales cycle than one conference, which is hard in todays world.

  2. Doug Schoch:

    Tony, Dave,

    Where is I can’t be at them All? thanks for the true words though.

    Doug Schoch

  3. Tony Brown:

    I very much agree, Dave. As someone who has spoken at and moderated conference panels on supply chain finance, it has been a great shame that corporates using the working capital technique are rarely in the room.

    Recently, I moderated a panel on the funding gap for SMEs at a conference organized by TXF, a leading online trade finance publication read by lenders and their corporate clients. Despite my exhortations to invite corporates, we didn’t score any 🙁

    What conference organizers don’t appreciate is that if corporates were encouraged to attend (even free of charge), their very presence would boost the number of lenders, lawyers, accountants, logistics providers, consultants and others who show up — motivated by the prospect of new business. More important — and this is your point — the discussion would be multilateral rather than viewed narrowly from the perspective of the SCF lender/platform.

    Why doesn’t Spendmatters launch its own conferences?

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