The first thing I learned is, of course, something that I already know.
I absolutely abhor conferences.
I took a stand at one a few years ago. It was the London Investor Show, run by Lisa Campbell.
The London Investor Show is a great conference, lots of decent brokers, high profile speakers and seminars. It leans more towards the longer term investor with fixed income and debt providers being quite highly featured.
However, I booked a tiny stand and rocked up with a banner and a laptop.
But, they “did me a favour” and gave me a massive booth.
So, I looked like a wally.
Especially seeing as other research providers (cough, cough, the excellent Stockopedia) has exceptional exhibition stands.
Also, these things always remind me of discos when I was at University. I’d talk to a few people on arrival but quickly exhaust my conversational repertoire. So I’d invariably end up walking around trying to look busy, going to the loo to kill a bit of time before heading home.
The second thing is that despite how horrendous these events are on the surface, they do provide an excellent excuse to actually meet people face to face.
In finance (I’ll use my time at Man in our 800 person Sugar Quay office as an example (which has since been knocked down and turned into flats)) it’s entirely possible to phone and email people who work on the floor above for five years, twenty times a day, and have absolutely no clue what they look like or meet in person. Or if you’re just emailing, not even know if they are a girl or a boy.
Plus, now there are so many online relationships that one has, where you’ve not even spoken on the phone that when you meet face to face it’s like catching up with an old friend.
So, yes, it’s a good thing to meet, especially to discuss the state of the market and get some good goss.
And of course, the third and final thing I learned about conferences is that I’d much rather be in the pub across the road.