Compliance officers, we need to talk. Something amazing just happened.

It happened thousands of miles away from most of us, in the windswept city of Wellington, New Zealand. There, the New Zealand Financial Intelligence Unit — the country’s chief anti-money laundering agency, roughly equivalent to FinCEN here in the United States — held a compliance conference this week.

Like, with people. In a room. IN PERSON.

Moreover, because New Zealand took coronavirus seriously from the start, and all but extinguished the virus over the summer, the attendees didn’t even have to wear masks or practice social distancing. The whole thing was like a piece of the 2019 conference world, dropped into the hellish existence the rest of the world knows as 2020.

Since so many of us do like attending compliance conferences and have no idea when that might happen again in the United States or Europe, I scrolled through the Twitter feed of the Financial Intelligence Unit for evidence of this blessed event. Here’s what I found.

The conference began, as all conferences do, with welcome remarks from a high-level speaker. One might wonder whether only the speaker on stage was allowed to appear without a mask…

 

But no! New Zealand has crushed the virus so well that multiple people can appear on stage at the same time without a mask! I vaguely recalled this practice from my youth, so I googled it. This format is called a “panel,” apparently.

 

I kept scrolling through the feed until I stopped dead in my tracks. People! Oh good lord, people sitting next to each other at a conference! Now I’m starting to remember those days…

 

And we close our photographic essay with another group shot, just to confirm that yes, conferences are still happening.

 

Even the speaker on screen, calling in from England, was touched.

 

I was so pleased at the success of this event, I mentioned it on Twitter — and then heard from the New Zealand FIU itself!

 

OK, New Zealand, now you’re just showing off. The rest of the world congratulates you on a successful event! We eagerly await the time when we might hold a live conference in our own countries again, a day that cannot come soon enough.

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