The inaugural edition of the conference, the first internationally to focus on the topic of information in financial markets, took place on 13/14th of May 2019 at Stockholm Business School Kräftriket campus in Stockholm, Sweden. It brought together an impressive line-up of researchers from around the world to discuss this fundamentally important topic. 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. The event was funded by a research grant from Handelsbankens Forskningsstiftelser.
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? (e.g. in satellite images of supermarket parking lots[i]) How is it transmitted from one company to another or across markets? (e.g. via microwave towers[ii]) How can one extract information from corporate documents? (e.g. through topic analysis[iii]) 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!
Thank you all for attending and see you next year!
Conference website: www.sbs.su.se/ffi2019