Did SFIG deliver the knock-down blow in Vegas showdown?

ASF conference is 'off to a great start'

It looks grim for the American Securitization Forum’s convention now underway in Las Vegas, where they are barring any press coverage and are expecting much fewer attendants — unlike last week’s ABS Vegas put on by the break-away Structured Finance Industry Group and IMN.

No one in attendance at ABS Vegas — at least no one HousingWire staffers spoke to — said they were attending the ASF event. But that's also the consensus of five reporters covering ABS Vegas last week, all of whom asked a good number of the 5,300-plus in attendance at the standing-room-only event and crowded in-person meetings between investors and potential firms.

ASF has been known to draw as many as 5,000 to its past events, where panels discuss the big picture while attendees make connections and make deals amid the circus atmosphere of casinos and showgirls. Smaller attendence aside, the ASF said their conference is off "to a great start."

This is the first conference for the ASF since SFIG (along with core banks, asset management firms and ratings companies as sponsors) broke away in March 2013 from ASF. They were further wounded by the fact that SFIG 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.

And it looks bleak. Not only is the agenda threadbare by comparison, there are also fewer marquee speakers.

SFIG and IMN are already declaring victory, saying that SFIG’s ABS conventions are now the industry standard. Jade Friedensohn, senior vice president for IMN, did an end zone dance at the ABS opening general session on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

"This is now officially the largest investment market conference in country. Amid regulatory uncertainty, trade group upheaval and other factors, we have record turnout," she said. "Like the [soft drink] ad from back in the 1980s … We do know you had a choice. You’ve got the right one baby."

HousingWire asked ASF to comment for this article, and they sent the following email statement from Tom Deutsch, executive director of the ASF.

“Thanks for your interest in ASF 2014. The conference is off to a great start. All of the panels at this year’s event have been well attended with lively and substantive dialogue on the key issues facing the securitization industry. Attendees are also getting ample opportunity to network and discuss business. As we move further into 2014, the ASF will focus its activities on its advocacy efforts on behalf of its members, many of whom are investors. As you know, much work remains undone and we look forward to continuing our work aimed at fully restoring our markets.”

The agenda for the ASF conference is five pages, and takes place in three, smaller conference rooms at the Aria casino and resort in Las Vegas.

The press is barred from attending ASF, so official verification of source material above is nt available.

On the last day of the SFIG conference, five reporters were on a panel recapping opinions for those in attendance, including the author of this piece.

Our panel turned a question back on the audience.

“How many of you will be [at ASF] next week?”

Not a single hand went up.

[Reporter note: If you're attending the ASF conference this week, we would love to hear from you. Email or call 469-893-1502.]

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