Sibos 2019: Should banks trust in the UK despite Brexit uncertainty?

Sibos 2019: Should banks trust in the UK despite Brexit uncertainty?

Welcoming business leaders and industry experts to the Excel Centre in London for Sibos 2019, Swift innovation manager Innes Macleod takes to the stage to divulge Innotribe’s mission and reflect on the technological and societal changes that are challenging the financial services sector, with input from renowned experimental physicist and celebrity figure Professor Brian Cox.

While Sibos 2018 in Sydney delved deep into the transformative impact that distributed networks and quantum computing could have on our future, this year’s conference will focus on trust and identity, technology and humanity, the future of money, and privacy and security in a hyperconnected world.

Brian Cox opens sessions by exploring what science can teach us about the complex, abstract subjects in society. Referencing Robert Oppenheimer’s 1953 BBC Reith Lecture, Cox highlights that the “crucial thing that science can teach us is that nature forces us to look at the world in a different way.”

Addressing Innotribe’s theme of trust, Cox adds that in science when considering this subject, “nature forces us to think about cosmology. It is not about being right all the time and being reliable. In science, careful and humble thinking can lead to intellectual thought and intellectual frameworks to address complex issues.”

Next up on the agenda after a few breakout sessions is the Sibos opening plenary, with Swift chairman of the board Yawar Shah taking to the stage to introduce Roula Khalaf, deputy editor at the Financial Times and Minouche Shafik, director at the London School of Economics and Political Science to share perspectives on industry challenges.

In light of the OECD downgrading global economic growth to 2.9% this year, Khalaf questions Shafik about the impact of the burgeoning trade war. Shafik says: “It is now clear that the trade war is behind the slowdown of trade and we should be worried. Trade had started to slow down before the trade war started. The growth of trade was faster than the growth rate of GDP, but that changed because of China’s progress.”

How can the industry create rules of engagement? Shafik continues: “For a long time, China rode two horses. They created their own systems but also engaged in multilateral processes. We were too slow in accommodating China and giving them a voice in regard to its position in the economy.

“China knew they wouldn’t get a fair deal, so they create their own. We can only hope that cooler heads will prevail. If we fail, we have to think about how to build pipes between two parallel systems.”

She adds that there is a new monetary theory circulating: if growth rate is higher than interest rate, borrowing can continue regardless of how in debt a country is. However, debt will become unsustainable for developed markets, but there is “room to borrow if investments are being made in infrastructure and skills. Then, productivity will increase over time.”

Shafik continues to say that it is a tough time to be a central bank. “In advanced economies in the wake of the crisis, banks took measures to avoid depression but as a result, quantitative easing grew balance sheets. It did become political, however. In emerging markets, it is a fiscal problem because governments want to spend more. This is an old-fashioned problem, but real at the moment.”

Pivoting to a direct discussion of Brexit, Khalaf asks Shafik – who is in the running for Bank of England governor – about rethinking the structure of the British economy and whether it is inevitable that the UK will become a low tax, low regulation state.

Shafik concludes that this is a policy choice. Many citizens believed that the low sterling value would invoke a resurgence of manufacturing. “This has never happened in history and will not happen. The UK is a knowledge-based economy and Brexit may effect the destination of service exploits. In a less favourable trade deal, these exploits may shift to other markets.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new visa may encourage people to stay after studying at UK universities, but research should be an international collaboration. “Creating a UK alternative to European collaboration will not be enough. To be globally competitive, you have to be centre stage.” 

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