CMSF 2017 – A perspective from FinTech Alley

As a participant in the superannuation industry for many years, I was intrigued by the prospect of being an exhibitor rather than a delegate at CMSF 2017. The intrigue was heightened because we were participating in the inaugural FinTech Alley concept. It was also our first ever conference outing as a firm.

Fortunately, we have an awesome team so for me personally, getting to the conference was pretty simple. We were showing off PractiFI for Superannuation for the first time since introducing our new single page application user experience, so it’s fair to say there were a few sleepless nights for members of our technical team in the lead up to the event.

In the days since the conference, quite a few FinTech and RegTech firms have asked me for my view on whether the investment was worth it. Rather than making you read the whole post, let me address that up front – yes, it was definitely worth it.

At the risk of sounding effusively positive and cliched, without attending events like CMSF, we would never reach that breadth of audience with our brand. Yes, marketing of all types is useful and yes, mass marketing probably puts our logo in front of more faces. What other marketing channels can’t do as well as a live event, is engage with the individual making the enquiry. Even social media can’t deliver the same level of engagement, though the millennials may disagree with me.

PractiFI is a business management and customer engagement platform, and attending CMSF 2017 was an excellent way for us to engage with our potential customers.

One engagement aspect of the conference that worked well for us was the use of Poken. It’s a neat scanning tool that delivers the exhibitor the details of delegates who ‘tap’ at the stand or ‘shake’ with a member of your team. By engaging with you, they are transferred a copy of your preloaded marketing content – and you can have quite a lot across a broad range of file formats, including video. There are obvious time, cost and environmental benefits to this over old-school paper brochureware.

Delegates are incentivised to maximise Poken activity, so plenty swing by the stand initially for the Poken credits, but stay or come back for a longer chat at a more convenient time in the program. We gathered far more information through this process than expected which was a great surprise when we got back the office.

For us, it was also great to be able to circulate with potential integration partners as well as more established technology firms. Every day is a learning experience and we certainly took away plenty of tips for our next conference outing from the conferencing pros.

FinTech Alley itself was a series of small stands along one edge of the main trade hall. Gathered there were a slightly eclectic mix of firms, each looking to impress upon delegates the merits of their offering. In my time on our stand, I witnessed some of the camaraderie you expect from this group. Warm hand-offs between stands and even the upselling of one another’s benefits as delegates moved along.

There were, of course, the high-budget, large format stands of the major players too. My personal favourite was that of TAL. They managed to deploy masseuses to keep delegates fresh throughout the days and those manning the stand seemed to always be smiling.  

Full points to the Gold Coast Exhibition and Conference Centre staff and AIST organisers for catering. Food was great quality, plentiful and varied throughout. Drinks were generous and the evening sessions provided a great sampling of our company preferred beverage, red wine.

If there is one criticism, I’d say it was a shame not to be able to attend the plenary sessions. Most technology conferences broadcast these to TVs in the trade hall, so perhaps CMSF 2018 will introduce this feature too.

And a final suggestion on behalf of the FinTech Alley crew: perhaps a ten minute open mic session in the trade hall to ply our wares. After all, we love a soapbox.