What do satellite images of parking lots have in common with microwave towers and topic analysis of risk disclosures in company reports? They are all different facets of financial information that were discusses at the 2019 Future of Financial Information conference, hosted by Stockholm Business School on May 13-14th.
The conference, the first internationally to focus on the topic of information in financial markets, brought together an impressive line-up of researchers from around the world and put SBS at the center of this fundamentally important debate. It was also attended by finance professionals from the Stockholm area as well as PhD students and academics from Stockholm and other Nordic universities, providing a fertile ground for exchange of ideas and networking.
Professor Mitchell A. Petersen from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University set the tone in his opening keynote address by explaining the distinction between hard information (that can be readily reduced to a number) and soft (that cannot), and how the transition from soft to hard offers obvious advantages of scale and objectivity but also introduces incentives to “game the system”. He pointed out that with the increasing role of FinTech, which relies mostly on vast amounts of hard information, such trade-offs deserve more attention than ever before.
Subsequent sessions followed up with important questions such as: Where can financially relevant information be found? How is it transmitted from one company to another or across markets? How can one extract information from corporate documents? And is more information always better or can that have negative, if unintended, consequences as well?
Professor Thierry Foucault from HEC Paris offered an elegant punchline to the two days of exciting discussions. In his keynote address ending the conference, he showed evidence of the key driver to information acquisition: uncertainty about the future. As the economic environment becomes increasingly complex and interconnected, the hunt for financial information is sure to continue, making research into this area even more important.
As organizers, we have thoroughly enjoyed the thought-provoking atmosphere and the international exposure this conference provided for the School. Borrowing from the title of Thierry Foucault’s talk, it really made everyone involved click!
The event was funded by a research grant from Handelsbankens Forskningsstiftelser.
Dates: 13-14 May 2019
Venue: Stockholm Business School, Sweden
Keynote speakers: Thierry Foucault (HEC Paris) and Mitchell A. Petersen (Northwestern University)
Program chair: Michał Dzieliński (Stockholm Business School)
Session videos: (link)