Brett King

The Asian Banker Summit: Tackling Reform and Innovation (FinExtra)

In Retail Banking, Social Networking, Strategy, Technology Innovation on April 23, 2010 at 03:32

The original post appears here…

The Asian Banker Summit for 2010 was held over the 19-20th of April in Singapore with record attendance, in what was the 11th annual occurance of the event. With more than 600 bankers in attendance, the conference was not only the largest Summit on record, but ranks as one of the largest banking events in the world now.

The summit had the support of some impressive names. Amongst the speakers on the opening session was Neel Kashkari, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability under Hank Paulson, Heng Swee Keat, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and Wee Ee Cheong, CEO of UOB and chairman of the Association of Banks of Singapore on key challenges to the financial services industry, and David Eldon, previous Chairman of HSBC Banking Group, and now Chairman of Dubai International Finance Centre.

Amongst the hot topics were proprietary trading for banks, regulatory reform, globalization and harmonization of regulatory frameworks, innovation, social media and reducing risk and uncertainity in financial markets.

The event was the first event with comprehensive Twitter participation throughout the conference, and some of the tweets highlight key thoughts that emerged. I thought the best way to focus on the key outcomes was to cover off some of those tweets.

  • Keynote panel at #TABS Opening Session: Hang Swee Keat (MAS), Wee Ee Cheong (UOB), David Eldon (DIFC), Neel Kashkari (TARP), Emmanuel Daniel
  • We must regain the trust of our customers…” – Emmanuel Daniel, Asian Banker

On David Eldon’s opening keynote…

  • 3 big hazards for banking sector (David Eldon) – Regulation, Political Landscape & Uncertainty, “Premature Economic Jubilation”
  • David Eldon says “Bank Tax” in the UK is likely to push many UK FIs to places like Switzerlan
  • The impact of social media is a key concern for retail banks in driving innovation – David Eldon
  • @wsquare – David e. says regulations top his list which keep him awake@night!

From Wee Ee Cheon, Chairman of the Singapore Association of Banks

  • Wee Ee Cheong says “The pace of change in Banking is accelerating due to innovation, beyond the control of banks…
  • Wee Ee Cheong (Singapore Assoc of Banks) says as economic rebound occurs, new players emerging & ongoing volatility
  • Wee Ee Cheong (Chair, Assoc of Banks Singapore) says Economic Crisis has taught banks “how to survive”
  • The importance of “Trust” and “Confidence” with customers should remain as the cornerstone of banking – Wee Ee Cheong
  • Emmanuel Daniel (TAB) says bank regulators need to have trading experience & collaborate, not just economics and/or banking experience

From Heng Swee Keat – Head of the Monetary Authority of Singapore

  • Heng Swee Keat (MAS) says that stealing competitors staff is a poor short-term strategy for growth, better is training/developmen
  • MAS considering introducing mandatory training program for Bank Directors to improve corporate governance – Heng Swee Keat (MAS)
  • Regulators need to be ‘outcome focused’ not just ‘rule focused’ creating more disruption in recovering economy – Heng Swee Keat (MAS)
  • New players in technology and innovation are not receiving enough support from finance sector to assist growth – Heng Swee Keat (MAS)
  • MD of Monetary Authority of Singapore, Heng Swee Keat says important that global banking regulatory reforms do not become politicized
  • MAS considering mandatory training for board of directors and even national exam for FI staffs eg for relationship managers!

And from Neel Kashkari, the Interim Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability, and where he led the Office of Financial Stability which oversaw the TARP initiative in the US.

  • Most banks got into trouble in the recent crisis by just being bad banks…” Neel Kashkari (TARP, US Treas)
  • “Contingent Equity” might be a solution for liquidity problems for banks in trouble in the future – Neel Kashkari (TARP)
  • “Too big to fail” – can’t break up largest banks because would have to break them into too many pieces to be practical – Neel Kashkari
  • Failure of GM, Banks would have put the ‘system’ at risk – if not US govt may have allowed failure – Neel Kashkari (TARP, US Treas)
  • The only way to absolutely prevent future financial crises is to stop innovation – not viable, Neel Kashkari (TARP, US Treas)
  • Neel Kashkari (TARP, US Treasury) says regulatory policy/reform is a battle between Economics, Legal, Politics – unpredictable

The twitter coverage of the event bought some very interesting facts out that might otherwise have been lost in the overwhelming discussions on regulatory reform, harmonization and who was responsible for the Global Financial Crisis.

Such a Twitter strategy has been commonplace for events like SXSW, the recent F8 and other such tech heavy conferences, but bankers are not know for their adoption of social media and their strategy for sharing internal insights such as were gleaned at the summit. Perhaps this marks a new awarness of market and customer needs to be more connected with what is happening at the regulatory and policy end of the spectrum. Then again, most of the tweets came from the attendees participating in the technology innovation stream of the event – so maybe it’s still about the geek factor for banking for now.

In any case, a positive trend. Such transparency helps us as broader participants in the financial services sector to feel like we are part of the discussion.

Brett King is author of BANK 2.0 and runs the Banking4Tomorrow advisory


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