Friday, October 13, 2006

Live from Salt Lake City

Hi from Salt Lake City!

I am here attending the Financial Management Association (FMA) meetings. I figured that if I could blog from Biloxi weeks after Katrina, I could make some time to do so from a conference.

Finance conferences are pretty much all day events. Today’s started at 8:00 AM and papers went until after 5:00 at which time there was a reception. (I confess I skipped the reception to run—WOW what a beautiful area!)

The day is broken into 90 minute segments during which time various financial research papers are presented. These 90 minute blocks repeat all day except for an hour break for lunch.

During a block upwards of 30 different “sessions” are held. These take place in various conference rooms in the conference hotels. Each session is further broken down into 3 thirty minute intervals in which a paper is presented and then discussed. The exact timing varies somewhat by conference but the norm at the FMAs (usually my favorite conference) is that the author has 20 minutes to explain the paper (motivation, data, methodology, and findings) and the discussant has about 10 minutes to comment on the paper and suggest possible improvements and extensions that would make the paper even better.

Those not presenting make up the fairly transient audience at the presentations. With up to 90 papers (30 sessions times 3 papers per session) are being presented in any time block, it is obviously impossible to see them all and those in attendance must pick and chose what to see. Thus, popular papers may be filled to capacity while others have only a handful in attendance.

Between each 90 minute presentation block, there is a 15 minute break time. This allows people to get from one presentation to the next (or at least try to make it, today’s wait for elevators was pretty bad!). This time also allows presenters to set up for their presentation and others to mingle while discussing what papers they will see next.

Additionally, throughout the entire day text book publishers and others selling items of interest to finance professors have set up displays in what amounts to a “trade show.” This allows professors to see the newest text books and to also see new class tools.

Oh, and I almost forgot, while all of this is happening, there are also many job interviews being conducted. Most of these occur in the hotel rooms but some schools opt to share a large open room for interviews.

So there you have it, a typical day at a finance conference.

It is sort of easy to see why people complain about conferences: they are quite expensive; they are a lot of work; they involve too much travel.

However, any analysis must also include the benefits. Today I saw 17 papers presented. Think about that for a second. Seventeen papers, it does not get much better than that!

On top of that where but a conference can you meet some of the best and brightest in the field from around the globe, get exposed to new ideas, and learn a great deal on virtually every aspect of finance all in a single day. And then wake up and do it all over again the next day!

To put it another way, conferences are definitely positive NPV projects!


Mario Oly said...

(Finance conferences are pretty much all day events.)
I wonder how old people can be alert at the final hours of the conference,with a lot of coffee maybe.

Do you prepare your body (brain)days before the conferences,if yes how?
Mario Oly.

kks001 said...

Not to mention the travel time to go to and return from the conferences! I find it easier to find good information online.

Tax Man