Fun in our Futures: Our Favorite Moments from FIA’s Global Conference Calendar

Conferences, symposiums, boondoggles — whatever you like to call them, in-person industry programs are still very much a part of many executives’ schedules, and that includes those in the industry where we have the most history: listed derivatives. The primary industry association supporting listed derivatives is the Futures Industry Association and the FIA has done a great job providing conferences and programs that give attendees reasons to come back year after year.

As we are coming up to the 35th annual FIA Expo in Chicago this week, we’ve laid out what we think are the top five moments from the FIA conference schedule in any given year. These are moments that, regardless of what is going on in the industry, we are confident will be thoroughly enjoyed by FIA member firms. We asked a few 3Pointers — and friends of the firm — who have become FIA veterans over the years to share their thoughts on these events and what they enjoy about them.

FIA Expo is a big one. More than 4,000 people come out for the FIA’s annual shindig in Chicago, which sports a showroom floor of 120 exhibitors, running the gamut from FPGA providers to FCMs. The first day of the two-day affair is the best-attended and thus the most high-energy day.

At the end of Day One is the Taste of Expo, where hors d’oeuvres and beverages with an international flair get rolled out. With eclectic food and drink stands scattered around the sprawling exhibit halls, the event encourages attendees to wander in search of preferred sources of sustenance, all while rubbing elbows with friends (and frenemies) in the industry. Of course, some of the fare is a little less “international” and a little domestic, as Chicago hot dogs have been known to make an appearance. Although that offering is always ripe for debate — “They put out ketchup?!” “Where’s the celery salt?” “No sesame seeds?” — figuring out someone’s hot dog preferences is an essential get-to-know-you moment. (And it’s a chance to judge a company purely based on their choice of spread.) — Spencer Doar, Content Strategist at 3Points

FIA’s Boca conference has been described as the “Davos of Trading,” and if you look at the attendee list year in and year out, that is a fair assessment. Executives from all over make this conference on Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway a priority. And in a business world where our calendars are starting to get cluttered with symposiums, fireside chats, and roundtables, you can still “bank” on FIA Boca pulling in various luminaries for its programming, including, but not at all limited to: Kelly Loeffler, Bakkt; Terry Duffy, CME; Rick Lane, Trading Technologies; Thomas Book, Eurex; Loh Boon Chye, SGX; Ed Tilly, Cboe; Adena Friedman, Nasdaq; Thomas Petterfy, Interactive Brokers; Don Wilson, DRW; a slew of regulators from the CFTC, SEC, NFA, etc.; and bank executives. This conference, more than any other I have attended in my 20 years of PR, lends itself to the impromptu but productive “catch-up” with fellow listed derivative professionals. While I certainly enjoy swapping out my LaSalle Street suits for the pastels of tropical Florida, there are two main reasons I love this event:

  • The bona fide media are there in full force! As a PR firm that takes pride in domain expertise, we at 3Points have found the journalists who make their way to this event to be accessible, hungry, very knowledgeable, and, without a doubt, in a great mood.
  • After the peak of the conference, when many folks are heading back to their home cities, I take an afternoon at the Boca Beach Club to catch as much March Madness as I can. Normally this contingent of hoop lovers will crack a Corona and belly up to the bar, and — as evidenced by FIA CEO Walt Lukken’s Twitter profile pic , which shows him twirling a b-ball on his finger — watching hoops and debriefing about the conference is considered time well spent. It may not be an official part of the event, but it is my favorite. — Drew Mauck, CEO at 3Points

FIA’s IDX conference in London is perhaps best described as a hybrid of FIA Boca and FIA Expo, as it brings together top-tier executives from around the globe (like Boca) while also hosting a trade show and a larger number of attendees (like Expo, albeit on a smaller scale.) Of course, IDX offers its own unique experiences as well — for example, its legendary location, The Brewery, is a historic setting that was previously the site of the Whitbread Brewery in East London. In addition to the networking, programming, and pints shared outside the Jugged Hare, a highlight of IDX is the annual Gala Dinner, benefitting Futures For Kids, a charitable foundation that raises funds to support the lives of disadvantaged children and young people around the world. The dinner caps off IDX as a way for the futures industry to come together, dress up in fancy attire, and give back to a wide range of carefully selected children’s charities across the UK and overseas. The event features both a silent and live auction, as well as the Kilt Challenge. Where else can you sit next to European regulators while silently pining for tickets to Wimbledon, all for a great cause? — Lorna Kiewert, Account Director at 3Points

The FIA IDX Gala

When attending FIA Asia, the highlight for me is always the Great Debate. It is one of the more unique sessions in any conference (capital markets or otherwise). Based on an Oxford-style debate, it is a combination of witty literary repartee and real, substantive — sometimes divisive — topics. I am continually impressed by the time the moderators and participants take to prepare and the delivery of their arguments, overlaid with their comedic improvisational skills. The added bonus is getting participation from the audience to survey the sentiment of the mob and see if an argument holds any sway. Truly a must-see at FIA Asia. [Check out the audio from the 2018 Great Debate here.] — Brian Mehta, CMO at Trading Technologies

I’ve been a big fan of the Law & Compliance conference for many years, from its days in Baltimore to its current D.C. iteration. Aside from hearing the best (or worst, depending on one’s point of view) lawyer jokes, the conference has always been one of the most useful working conferences around. Having the best seafood and a nice cold drink always makes the sometimes dry and esoteric subject matter a lot more palatable. Hanging out in Fell’s Point or wandering around the Inner Harbor in the old Baltimore days during breaks was fun, and now we get to explore D.C. locations. Debating the finer points of AML/KYC requirements is always stimulating. Who says compliance officers, lawyers, and regulators don’t know how to party?! And, believe it or not, the lawyer jokes have gotten better over time. — Carl Gilmore, President at Integritas Financial Consulting

If you are in Chicago for FIA Expo this Wednesday and Thursday — or just in Chicago period — the 3Points team will be out in full force, so hit us up. We will see you at Taste of Expo!

PR & Communications for Fintech & Chicago Tech. www.3ptscomm.com

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