The 14th Asian Financial Forum (AFF) will be held as an online event on 18 and 19 January (Monday and Tuesday). Under the theme “Reshaping the World Economic Landscape”, the forum will run round the clock across different time zones, examining the current economic landscape and exploring global business opportunities with more than 160 influential policymakers, financial experts, investors, business leaders and economists.
Heavyweight speakers at the AFF’s keynote sessions include Paul Romer, 2018 Nobel Laureate for Economic Sciences and policy entrepreneur, Alexis Ohanian, Co-founder of Reddit and Seven Seven Six, and Luc Julia, Co-creator of Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant. Distinguished guests at various sessions will share insights on a wide range of topics including the global economic outlook, socially responsible and impact investment, the asset and wealth management industry in the post-COVID era, climate change risks and opportunities for the insurance industry.
Mary Huen, Chairperson, AFF 2021 Steering Committee and CEO, Hong Kong, Standard Chartered, said: “COVID has brought unprecedented changes to the world economy, although the development of vaccines will help to address some of the uncertainties. The global economy is being reshaped even as economic and trade activities begin to get back to normal. Corporates need to aggressively embrace the new normal and turbocharge the implementation of transformation, including technology upgrades, to create new opportunities for the financial industry.”
Dr Patrick Lau, HKTDC Deputy Executive Director, said: “We endured a challenging year in 2020, which makes it all the more important for AFF participants to come together to examine the latest market developments and explore innovative solutions and investment opportunities from around the world through the AFF virtual platform. Under the theme ‘Reshaping the World Economic Landscape’, this year’s forum focuses on topics such as sustainable development, impact investment, fintech, 5G, philanthropy, family offices, entrepreneurship and venture capital, and will examine how businesses can turn crisis into opportunity under the new normal. The online forum will cover more than 50 sessions from 8:30am to 10pm, Hong Kong time, allowing people from different time zones to participate.”
The pandemic has hit the global economy hard, and even as the vaccination programme gathers speed the economy is still expected to recover at a slow pace. Whether the world’s economy will continue on its regular cycle or whether there will be a fundamental change brought about by the pandemic is a topic of interest to many, along with the impact of issues such as trade disputes, climate change and technology development. After a special address by Guo Shuqing, Deputy Governor of the People’s Bank of China, Chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, on the first morning of the AFF, the plenary session will explore the topic “Reshaping the World Economic Landscape”, with senior officials examining how the financial services sector can contribute to the recovery of the global economy and what opportunities await in the new economic landscape. Among those contributing to the discussion will be Teresa Czerwińska, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank; Pierre Gramegna, Minister for Finance of Luxembourg; Bandar M H Hajjar, President of the Islamic Development Bank Group; and Jin Liqun, President and Chairman of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
In the face of the global pandemic, many governments employed unconventional financial policies to roll out large-scale fiscal stimulus packages. Speakers at a policy dialogue session themed “Policy Responses to COVID-19” include Ahmed Abdulkarim Alkholifey, Governor of the Saudi Central Bank; Ryozo Himino, Commissioner of the Financial Services Agency of Japan; Martin Raiser, Country Director, China and Mongolia, and Director, Korea of the World Bank; and Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus, Governor of the Central Bank of Malaysia. The discussion will focus on the effectiveness of fiscal and monetary policies in supporting growth, and the implications of the increasing use of financial technology from the perspective of regulators.
As in previous years, the four Panel Discussions will be a key focus of the AFF. In the session titled “Global Economic Outlook”, business leaders from the banking and financial sectors will assess the transformation brought about by the current environment of low interest rates, increased compliance requirements and digital innovation, together with the raft of challenges resulting from the pandemic. The distinguished speakers include Laura Cha, Chairman of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited; Jean Lemierre, Chairman of BNP Paribas; Liu Liange, Chairman of the Board of Bank of China Limited; Urs Rohner, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Credit Suisse Group AG; José Viñals, Group Chairman of Standard Chartered PLC; and Wong Kan-seng, Chairman of United Overseas Bank Limited. The panellists will share their thoughts on the outlook for the global banking industry, while considering how banks should respond to regulatory changes and advances in technology.
As socially responsible investment and impact investment gain stronger ground, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into investment decisions, creating long-term value for corporations and generating higher returns for investors. The discussion on “Responsible and Impact Investment” will review the long-term prospects for sustainable investing with a panel that includes Yoshio Hishida, President of Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management; Amy Lo, Chairman, Executive Committee, Private Wealth Management Association, and Head and Chief Executive, UBS Hong Kong Branch; Jena Raby, CEO of Natixis Investment Managers; Vineet Rai, Founder and Chairman of the Aavishkaar Group; and George H Walker, Chairman and CEO of Neuberger Berman.
The asset and wealth management industry has inevitably been impacted by COVID-19, but while there are challenges to business operations, the pandemic has also given rise to new solutions and practices and the emergence of new perspectives and investment opportunities. The session titled “The Asset and Wealth Management Industry in the Post-COVID Era” will explore the implications of COVID-19 on the asset and wealth management industry, key industry trends in Asia and globally, and how market players can best position themselves in this fast-changing environment. Speakers at the session include Ben Chan, Regional Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (Asia) Limited; Julia Leung, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, Intermediaries, Securities and Futures Commission; Rajeev Mittal, Managing Director, Asia Pacific ex-Japan, Fidelity International; and François Monnet, Head of Private Banking North Asia, Credit Suisse AG HK Branch.
Climate change is one of the major emerging risks in the decades ahead and is expected to reshape the structure of the economy in the future, bringing both risks and opportunities to the real economy and the financial sector. The insurance industry is expected to play a key role in facilitating people and businesses to address climate change risks and move towards a sustainable future. In a discussion titled “Climate Change Risks and Opportunities for Insurance”, insurance leaders and experts will look at how the industry is responding to climate change risks and how to capture opportunities for insurance in the transition to a sustainable economy. Panel members include Fabien Jeudy, CEO of Sun Life Hong Kong Limited; Jan Napiorkowski, Global Head Clean Energy and Vice President of Ariel Syndicate of Lloyd’s; James Turner, Group Chief Risk and Compliance Officer of Prudential plc; Lei Yu, CEO, North Asia, and Regional Head of Distribution, Asia Pacific, QBE Asia; and Patrick Zeng, CEO HK & Greater China, Regional Distribution Director Asia Pacific, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE.
The impact of the pandemic and evolving international geopolitical issues have combined to create uncertainty in the global economy. Over the two days of the AFF, Influential global financial policymakers and business leaders will take part in more than 50 panel sessions. Luminaries including Stephen A Schwarzman, Chairman, CEO and Co-founder of the Blackstone Group; Philippe Brassac, CEO of Credit Agricole SA; Mark E Tucker, Group Chairman of HSBC Holdings plc; Howard Davies, Chairman of the NatWest Group; Zhang Lei, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Hillhouse Capital Management Group; and Antony Leung, Group Chairman & CEO of Nan Fung Group, will explore strategies that can help to address the current financial situation.
Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are gaining traction in global markets. As a premier international financial centre and the world’s largest offshore renminbi hub, Hong Kong is well positioned to facilitate the exploration and expansion of CBDCs at the cross-boundary level. In a discussion themed “The Evolving Central Bank Digital Currency Landscape”, panellists will share insights on potential use cases for CBDCs and how Hong Kong’s burgeoning fintech ecosystem can get better equipped for the opportunities that lie ahead. Chaired by Au King-lun, Executive Director of the Financial Services Development Council, the panellists will include Henri Arslanian, Global Crypto Leader and Partner, PwC; Shusong Ba, Managing Director and Chief China Economist, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, and Chief Economist of the China Banking Association; and Bénédicte Nolens, Head of BIS Innovation Hub, Hong Kong Centre.
This year’s forum will feature a number of “Fireside Chat” sessions featuring experts from various fields, including Da Hongfei, Founder and CEO of Onchain; Michael Chan, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Bowtie Life Insurance Company Limited; Virginia Tan, CEO & Founding Partner of Teja Ventures; Thomas Jeng, Head of Asia-Pacific, Innovation and Partnerships of 500 Startups; Paul Ark, Advisor of Gobi Partners; Grace Reyes, CEO of The Investment Diversity Network (TIDE) and Sandra Ro, CEO of the Global Blockchain Business Council. These experts will share insights with pioneers from around the world on topics such as technology development trends, venture capital, investing in the “she economy”, financing the circular economy, and the state of blockchain, providing practical advice on how to start a successful business.
This year’s AFF will see the inauguration of the “Dialogues for Tomorrow” series to assess the impact of COVID-19 on sectors such as banking, insurance, fintech, energy, healthcare, food and agriculture and big tech, allowing industry players to get a better understanding of the current situation and ways in which they can enhance their competitiveness. Distinguished guests taking part in the series include Melissa Guzy, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Arbor Ventures; Tao Zhang, Founder and Managing Director of Dao Ventures & Dao Foods International; Ann Kung, Deputy Chief Executive of Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited; Sebastian Paredes, CEO of DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Limited; Maaike Steinebach, General Manager, Hong Kong & Macau, Visa Inc; Ronnie Ede, Executive Director & Chief Financial Officer of Innovent Biologic Inc; Florian Kemmerich, Managing Partner of Bamboo Capital Partners; Ming Yang, Chief Financial Officer of Daqo New Energy; Randall S Kroszner, Deputy Dean for Executive Programs of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business; and Sally Wan, CEO of AXA Hong Kong and Macau.
The Fintech Showcase, FintechHK Startup Salon, InnoVenture Salon and Global Investment Zone will return in a virtual format for the 2021 Asia Financial Forum, inviting more than 140 local and overseas international financial institutions, technology enterprises, start-ups and investment agencies to present the latest trends in fintech innovation and next-generation business ideas, helping industries from different parts of the world to explore investment opportunities. Exhibitors include Mox Bank, a start-up group from Cyberport, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks, PAO Bank and Airwallex. In addition, the AFF Deal Flow Matchmaking Session will arrange one-on-one meetings between more than 670 investors, project owners and start-ups to bring together capital and investment projects from around the world on a virtual platform. More than 700 meetings will be arranged, covering investment projects including the Internet of Things, digital technology, healthtech, fintech, education, environment and energy, food and agriculture, infrastructure and real estate.
The InnoVenture Salon will continue to empower start-up enterprises by building connections with international investors and potential business partners, joining hands with Hong Kong financial regulators to solve start-up problems. It will also present the inaugural “AFF Accelerate”, an open innovation challenge jointly organised by the HKTDC, 500 Startups and FWD Group, inviting start-up entrepreneurs to devise insurance technology solutions for the insurance industry, bringing innovative ideas into the commercial world.
Members of the media who joined today’s press conference will automatically receive a two-day media pass for the 14th Asia Financial Forum. Other media representatives who would like to participate in the AFF should send an email to [email protected] on or before 16 January for registration details.
Media remarks: All video or audio recordings at the event may be used only in the context of media reporting.