World financial leaders meet in Mammoth for face time, skiing
We live in the digital world. Electronic communication, including email, Instant Messaging, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Skype, have become a new paradigm in the global business community, none more so than the fast-paced financial sector. But some of the leaders in world money aren’t ready to let all that digital data replace real human interaction, as exemplified by the Interbourse program, which after 45 years still values face time for its membership. And for its 45th year, Interbourse chose Mammoth Mountain Ski Area for its annual event.
Once a year Interbourse brings together participants in the financial community for a week of networking and skiing. The participants comprise many areas of the financial landscape. CEOs, bankers, private equity, portfolio managers, traders, analysts, brokers, international exchanges and more. Today the average number of participants at Interbourse conferences has grown to reach as many as 500 participants, roughly 60% of them European, hailing from financial centers in at least 15 different cities and nine countries.
Members of stock exchanges from around the globe established the Interbourse program to meet with colleagues, counterparts and competitors in an informal atmosphere, building and maintaining relationships that expand beyond the financial community. The first Interbourse was held in France in 1969. Participants from three European exchanges organized the event, with different cities or regions hosting a week of skiing, race competition and, of course, social gatherings.
Since then the group has skied all over the world, visiting top ski areas in Europe, and North American destinations such as Squaw Valley, Vail, Aspen and Whistler. Interbourse, however, had never been to Mammoth until this year. “We wanted to expose members to a mountain they’ve never been to,” current Interbourse Pacific President Billy Brandreth explained. “I made a cold call to MMSA, and came out the spring before last. I had a great time and decided this was the place. And last January I skied and knew it was going to be okay when I could ski from top to bottom in one of the worst snow years ever!”
Brandreth said one of the attractions was also the size of the Village at Mammoth. “We do this all over the world and this village was great. There was a nice, intimate feel to it.”
How did MMSA fare against its world-class competition? “Everyone at MMSA, from the lift operators to the front desk and the bell hops, was incredible,” Brandreth enthused. “The feedback was overwhelming.” That, he added, went for the skiing as well. “I told the members you’ll be skiing on some of the best snow in the world under blue skies, and they all said I was crazy … until they got here. Many of our members, probably 90%, are expert skiers who have skied the world, and they were blown away.”
Several skiers from the Swiss contingent out of Geneva said they are planning to come back, and they have the Alps in their back yard. Others proclaimed 2013 the “best Interbourse ever.”
MMSA also received high marks for its Race Department, under Manager Beat Hupfer, which coordinated the ski racing events. And Brandreth also praised ski area event managers Casey Hendrickson and Abigail Ross. “They were all fabulous,” he noted.
In addition to several days of racing competition and exploring the mountain, daily events included après ski happy hours and dinners, such as a Beach Party and an elegant Oscars-themed closing night awards ceremony.
Brandreth, himself a senior trader based in San Francisco, attended his first Interbourse in 1999, and his wife, Kandi, made hers in 2004. In the years since Interbourse made its debut, the world has changed, but the Brandreths are convinced that Interbourse is essential to its members’ well being. “Finance is a global business, and even with all our technology, there’s still nothing like being face to face,” Billy pointed out.
“It’s about spending real time meeting and catching up with real people,” Kandi added. And that, they think, is one of the main reasons the program endures. Consider that the average age is 45, and at least a few of the more senior members have been to every Interbourse.
“It’s about common interests, certainly finance, but also their love of skiing and mutual camaraderie,” Billy went on to say. “There are many long-lasting friendships here, and they value the connectivity.”
Eastern Sierra discoveries
And the fun wasn’t limited to MMSA. Many of the members planned road trips around their visit, scheduling extra vacation time to visit San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Mono County sites.
Some went cross-country skiing at Tamarack Lodge, while other ventured even further. Ben Cohos from Calgary, Alberta, was part of a Canadian group that went skiing and then golfing at Bishop Country Club all in the same day. “We’ve never done that before,” Cohos said. “I wish I’d thought to bring shorts. The weather was great, and the condition of the greens was excellent.” Others also unwound in the area’s hot springs, and one attendee said he took some time to go fly-fishing!
It’s unknown when Interbourse will return to Mammoth. Next year London will host a week at Club Med Val D’Isere. In 2015, Frankfurt will take over host duties. Safe to say, however, that this trip certainly put Mammoth squarely on the map for Interbourse’s world-class financial movers and shakers, and perhaps equally as important, its’ many world-traveled skiers as well.
(Photo: Rebecca Garrett)