2010 – PhotosAmericas Structured Note Showcase & Awards
By the Tuesday morning, which was earmarked as the golf day, it was clear that barring a miracle we weren’t to be in Miami. So mtn-i decided to stage a little miracle of our own instead. In little over 24 hours a teleconference studio with full screen and audio links to the Doral was rigged up through Skype. In a dizzying display of both organizational brilliance, for which commercial manager Philip Tozer-Pennington must take great credit, and technical wizardy, which can be laid at the door of head of technology Rob Evans, the conference went ahead. Not exactly as planned; but it went ahead.
The ingenuity and never-say-die attitude that made this possible was recognized by all the ground at Miami. There should also a special mention of praise for the staff of the Doral, particularly Erin, who responded so readily to the unusual circumstances, and both Jeff Siegel of Spencer Daniels and Glen Lotenberg of Incapital who volunteered to rally round for the cause.
A particular highlight on the first day was the issuer idol panel, hosted by senior reporter Louisa Burwood-Taylor. This involved presentations by Martine Mills Hagen from Eksportfinans in Oslo, Anna Finnskog of Swedish Export Credit in Stockholm (both orphans of the volcano as well), Tenzing Sharchok of the World Bank and Jerome Merveille of Barclays Capital, both of whom were in Miami. Not only were the comments of our speakers highly illuminating, the successful linkage of three European different locations with the conference venue in Miami was particularly eye-popping and gave cause for quiet satisfaction at mtn-i TV HQ.
Immediately before this panel, reporter Alastair Marsh presented the results of his exhaustive survey of US investors conducted over the end of Q1. Alastair polled a selection of private banks, wealth managers, county treasurers and insurance companies with combined assets of more than USD1.2trn.
Among the many interesting and provocative conclusions from Alastair’s survey was the paramount need for greater education of investors about structured notes, particularly their difference from structured credit products. Nonetheless, some 87.5% of respondents viewed structured products positively and have bought them in the past.
At the end of the first day, the awards ceremony went ahead as planned with mtn-i staff, led by indefatigable master of ceremonies and speech master Mike Timms, pulled in a very late night/early morning. Barclays scooped the structured product dealer of the year award while Eksportfinans was awarded third party USMTN borrower of the year. Maxim seemed to buy everything at the auction, while Glen Lotenberg enlivened proceedings with a couple of spoof awards. The latter included a special nod to Karl Baumert of Goldman Sachs as best dressed man at the conference: Karl attended all events in shorts and polo shirt.
Even from a distance of over 3000 miles, it was evident to mtn-i staff on the following day that conference attendees had fully enjoyed the fare offered by the many hostelries in South Beach during the previous night: perhaps too fully. Nonetheless, plenty turned up to hear Marilyn Selby Okoshi, a partner at Katten Muchin Rossenman, give her views on impending regulatory changes in Washington. To judge by the lively Q&A session that followed, this is a topic very close to the hearts and minds of US structured notes professionals.
The following panel of the conference gave three swaps professionals – Jeff Formanek of RBC Capital Markets, Karl Baumert of Goldman Sachs and Estanislao Fidelholtz of Nomura – the opportunity to speak about the most pressing issues facing those who price swaps as a part of structured note deals at the moment.
So popular had the speed networking session proved in the previous day that the conference concluded with another edition of the same thing. At which point the weary but now media-savvy mtn-i team in London signed off leaving those in Miami to enjoy the sun and the golf.
We’ll see you next year; volcanoes permitting.