In the years that I’ve been coming to Davos, I’ve learned that the two most valuable aspects of our presence at the WEF Annual Meeting are, first, gaining an understanding of what’s been happening to global economies and markets and, second, getting to meet our clients at the very highest levels.
A short history of Davos sentiment
On the first point, there is very good news to report. Confidence is back.
In 2008, the general mood was one of foreboding. Markets were good, but people felt that something bad was about to happen. By January 2009, something bad had definitely occurred. The mood was one of complete fear and concern about whether financial markets, and many financial institutions, would survive. By 2010, the mood had shifted to recrimination and finger pointing, as people focused on who or what had caused the great financial crisis. By 2011, the mood had shifted again, to talk of repairing the damage and introducing new regulations to stop it from happening again. In 2012 we saw a world of hesitant recovery, but still a lot of fear around the Eurozone crisis and US budgetary concerns. Sentiment began to look up in 2013, but there were still lingering concerns about prospects for renewed growth.
So here we are in 2014, and all those concerns seem to have largely evaporated. The mood in Davos today is one of calm, universal optimism. Across all industries and countries, and with very few exceptions, the world’s economies are back in growth mode. Importantly for us, companies are investing in growth again and developing their businesses.
Meeting with clients
The second important benefit from coming here concerns the opportunities we have to meet with our clients at very senior levels.
One day into the week, those contacts have informed and confirmed the points above about the current climate in world economies, the business world, and more specifically, in our markets.
Today I met with clients from the global hotels world. I spoke with several Indian clients. I spent, at a very senior level, time with a recent new client, HSBC. I spoke with other European and American banking clients, as well as clients from other industry sectors across all three regions. They’re all dealing with their own market issues, but they’re all back in growth mode.
I’ve been joined for some of these meetings by the colleagues we’ve assembled for our team this year. Let me emphasize that it’s a real team.
As she reports in her own blog entries, Sheila Penrose, our Board Chairman, is renewing acquaintances with many former business colleagues. And she is meeting with many of very senior women who are here in Davos. Jon Zehner, global head of LaSalle Investment Management’s Client Capital Group, flew in today. Jon joined us after many years with JP Morgan in Africa.
Christian Ulbrich, who leads our EMEA business, has unique contacts with many central European business leaders, and in particular, with top financial sector clients. Anuj Puri, head of our business in India, is here to meet with members of the very strong senior Indian contingency in attendance. Anuj and I have a number of meetings scheduled together with top Indian business people throughout the week. And I’m also meeting many people from my prior years at Davos, reinforcing those relationships, as I’ll tell you about later this week. Finally, Scott Panzer, one of our senior transaction people in New York, is joining us in a commercial support role. Scott has unique skills for dealing with Board level executives.
So we are a strong, diverse and balanced team. That makes us really effective in picking up information and interacting with our clients here in Davos.
Finally, amongst the things I wanted to learn about here is how other companies are progressing in the African continent. I’ve already gained some useful information on that topic, which I’ll talk to you about in tomorrow’s blog.
Thanks for reading this. I hope you’re all ramping up business in your local markets to set a good pace for 2014. We hope our presence in Davos will translate to new business opportunities for you.