It is often the informal parts of conferences that are the most revealing.
This year’s Trade Tech conference in Paris, an annual get-together of the great and good in all things to do with technology and equities, was no exception.
In a game show-style informal session, modelled on the popular British TV programme University Challenge, the "experts" cracked under pressure, struggling to answer questions such as: "What does Mifid stand for?" Given that there were several sessions in the conference devoted to the EU’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, which is due to come in to effect this November, with huge implications for equities trading, the poor response rate was worrying.
The sell-side team, to its credit, however, did have its hands on the buzzer impressively quickly for the next question: "What is the number of the beast?"
The contestants, drawn from the buy side and the sell side did rather better on the photo round, which featured the faces of conference celebrities mounted on TV stars’ bodies such as Brad Pitt, and Patrick Stewart in the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame.
Perhaps the most revealing aspect of the competition, however, was audience participation.