The Association for Financial Professionals (AFP), creator and administrator of the Certified Treasury Professional and Certified Corporate FP&A Professional credentials, hosts the largest annual networking conference worldwide for corporate finance professionals.

The event is held in a different city in the U.S. each year. This year’s event was held November 5-7 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois — the largest convention center in the United States. With more than 7,000 attendees and over 250 exhibitors, this year’s conference was the biggest AFP event in history.

While representatives from Fides have attended the conference in previous years, 2018 was our first year exhibiting. We had a great location on one of the aisles that attendees walked through on their way to and from breakfast and lunch each day.

While some people were drawn in by our Swiss army knife-shaped multi-connector cable and authentic mini Toblerone Swiss chocolates (and yes, we got some comments about them getting smaller), they stayed to chat about their multi-bank connectivity challenges.

Many of our partners were also at the show. In addition to engaging with current customers and prospects, we were able to spend some quality time with a few of those partners and talk about ways we can work even more closely together in future.

We also co-hosted an evening customer appreciation event, along with Strategic Treasurer and Monarch Capital, at The Wheeler Mansion. Originally built in 1870, The Wheeler Mansion is one of the few remaining stately mansions that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. It now operates as a boutique hotel and venue for small events. Luckily, there was a break in the rainy weather to allow our guests to sit outside by the firepit and make s’mores, a treat made popular by U.S. Girl Scouts that consists of a melted marshmallow sandwiched with a square of chocolate between two graham crackers.

The event balanced exhibit hall time and sessions as well as can be expected when attendees are seeking certification credits. More than 130 educational sessions were offered, covering topics ranging from AI, blockchain and cybersecurity to the impact of U.S. tax reform of treasury. Sessions were divided into three categories: operational, strategic, and “mindshift”/disruptive.

Featured keynote speakers included Daymond John, founder, president and CEO of FUBU who appears as an investor on the ABC reality television series “Shark Tank,” and former American NFL quarterback Peyton Manning. The line for people to meet Manning after his presentation was easily half a mile long, snaking through the exhibit hall directly past our booth.

The conference attendees we spoke with said that they were there for the sessions, certification, networking and to learn about solutions like Fides’ that might help them with their daily work.

The AFP 2019 Conference will be held October 20-23 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Boston, Massachusetts. We have already booked our booth space and hope to see you there!