By The Nation
The aim is to examine the current economic landscape and explore global business opportunities with more than 160 influential policymakers, financial experts, investors, business leaders and economists.
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 post-Covid era, climate-change risks and opportunities for the insurance industry.
Mary Huen, chairperson of the AFF 2021 steering committee and CEO of Standard Chartered bank in Hong Kong, said: “Covid has brought unprecedented changes to the world economy, though the development of vaccines will help 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. 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.”
First plenary session
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 global 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.
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.
In the face of the global pandemic, many governments employed unconventional financial policies to roll out large-scale fiscal stimulus packages. The discussion will focus on the effectiveness of fiscal and monetary policies in supporting growth, and implications of the increasing use of financial technology from the perspective of regulators.
Broad spectrum of financial issues
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 a raft of challenges resulting from the pandemic. 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.
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.
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 and how to capture opportunities for insurance in the transition to a sustainable economy.
Assessing economic prospects
The impact of the pandemic and evolving international geopolitical issues have combined to create uncertainty in the global economy. Over the two days of AFF, influential global financial policymakers and business leaders will take part in more than 50 panel sessions to explore strategies that can help 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.
This year’s forum will also feature a number of “Fireside Chat” sessions featuring experts from various fields, who will share insights 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 also kick off 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.
Showcase for innovations and investment opportunities
The Fintech Showcase, FintechHK Startup Salon, InnoVenture Salon and Global Investment Zone will return in a virtual format for the 2021 AFF. 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.
Visit https://www.asianfinancialforum.com/aff/en/ for more information.