The American Securitization Forum is not, despite rumors, having problems with its upcoming Las Vegas conference, and everything is fine. Just fine.
Of course, it will be smaller than last year. And the agenda was only posted online on Jan. 13 for the event that runs Jan. 26-29.
But everything is fine. Why do you ask?
ASF president executive director Tom Deutsch says that preparation for the event has been consuming ASF as planning is entering the final, frenetic stage.
“ASF 2014 will again be a top quality event! I’m attaching the agenda at a glance here which illustrates the range of issues we’ll be covering with our members and guests. I’m also delighted to mention we'll have a strong lineup of speakers, including issuers, investors and regulators,” Deutsch said in a written statement.
ASF is suffering from the way the Structured Finance Industry Group (SFIG), which broke off from ASF just last year, swooped in and – in a bit of dirty pool – scheduled its own Las Vegas event one week prior to ASF’s already scheduled conference – in the same complex of resort-convention-hotels, no less.
This has, of course, cut into ASF’s expected attendance.
“Given multiple conferences in the same time frame, the event will be smaller than last year, but will continue to include top quality discussions and networking,” Deutsch said.
A story that hasn’t been published but is circulating in the Bloomberg internal system documents the tensions between the groups and how ASF appeared to be scrambling to pull together its event in the wake of last year’s schism.
The story, by Bloomberg’s Jody Shenn, says that SFIG is “emerging as the leader in representing the $8 trillion U.S. market for securities backed by everything from home mortgages to equipment leases.”
SFIG is boasting 5,000 attendees for its event, while ASF won’t disclose its numbers. Bloomberg’s story tells about how Ryan McCann, a fixed-income manager at Edge Asset Management Inc., had paid to attend the ASF conference but was subsequently trying to no avail to get a refund for the ASF conference “because its status is murky and almost no one he knows plans to attend.”
SFIG founding members Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. (BAC), as well as JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Barclays and Credit Suisse Group AG, will only be attending the SFIG event, Shenn reported.
The story goes on to tell how SFIG is gaining support in representing U.S. industry
professionals in the market for securitized debt after a series of showdowns among trade groups hampered efforts to revive demand following the financial crisis in 2008.
Deutsch, though, says there’s room for more than one association, given the disparate perspectives in the securitization space.
“There is an evolved landscape for associations in the securitization industry. The industry has grown larger and more mature, thereby demanding multiple associations representing different voices and interests, whether they’re banks, issuers, investors or other deal participants,” he said. “At the same time, there is also overlapping representation, for example, SIFMA primarily represents dealers as does SFIG. The ASF represents investors, as well as many other market participants.”
Deutsch concedes it has been a rough year since SFIG broke off 10 months ago, but says that his team is powering through it.
“Membership renewals have been coming in strong and we’ll have a full plate representing our members in Washington and around the country. For example, just this week, we are working on a new comment letter to FHFA strongly urging them to increase guarantee fees to spur more private capital in the mortgage market (see attached letter we submitted last month jointly with the AMI),” he writes. “I’m also attaching our 2013 list of activities and accomplishments which demonstrates the depth and breadth of activities we undertake for our members. This list of accomplishments is unparalleled by any securitization advocacy group and bodes well for ASF's efforts in 2014 and beyond.”
Vegas, baby, Vegas.