The interconnectedness of financial markets has shown us that we live in a truly global economy.
From history, we can bear witness to events that have occurred in one market, which have had repercussions on others. The world today still feels the ripple effects of the US sub-prime crisis.
With calls for more safety and investor protection met by heightened regulation, many players in the South African financial market are singing from the same song sheet to harmoniously improve the ways things are done for the benefit of the country.
At a conference held at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in Johannesburg, which was hosted by Strate and the Payment Association of South Africa (PASA) during August, keynote speakers from regulators to banks were communicating messages of collaboration:
“We need more honest conversations to understand what is good and bad [for the market],” said First National Bank (FNB) CEO Jacques Celliers. Supporting this, Ingrid Goodspeed, the Chief Director of Financial Sector Development at National Treasury said, “We need a safer financial sector to serve South Africa better.” Goodspeed added that the market had to consider four priority areas to achieve this, namely financial stability; market conduct; access to financial services and combating financial crime.
The lessons from the Global Financial Crisis have taught the industry that the need to restore stability and confidence is a market imperative for the greater good of not only the financial system itself, but also its reputation as a whole.
According to Monica Singer, “collaboration must be forming the collective conscience of the financial industry, because each institution in the market is interrelated and the market is interconnected with other financial markets globally.” She focused on Strate’s core purpose, which is to mitigate risk and bring efficiencies to the post-trade environment in South Africa. Strate works together with the stock exchange, regulators, custodian banks, issuers, business partners and other stakeholders to achieve this purpose and bolster the resilience of the market.
Keynote speakers in the morning sessions of the conference focused largely on technologies that were helping to meet regulatory reforms, greater demands for efficiencies, risk mitigation, as well as driving innovation in the market. Celliers said that he thinks regulation shouldn’t kill innovation in the market, but rather enable it.
Another keynote speaker, Stafford Masie, had a captivating discussion about the opportunities around technology and innovation. Masie described how the models are changing and that the future of technology is not more technology. It is when it decimates, it becomes more relevant, and becomes more prolific everywhere. “When you got lost, you had the map book in the car. Google, Garmin and Tom Tom came along and there was no longer the notion of touching a book. You can now enter coordinates into a machine to tell you where you are and how to get somewhere adequately. What’s the future of Google Maps? More Google Maps? No, it’s the Google autonomous vehicle – it’s when the blind person gets into the car and closes the door and tells the car where to go, and gets there safely…”
“The opportunity of technology is not technology; it is humanity and understanding humanity. [Companies] don’t create great products and services, [they must] create ecosystems where people from the outside can make your business better,” he said, adding that while collaboration was good, it was also about co-creativity and understanding how to move forward with businesses that understand humans.
The primary objective of the conference was to create a platform to discuss latest trends, tackle critical constraints and turn them into new opportunities in the current challenging economic environment.
The speaker line-up and topics included:
- Jacques Celliers, CEO, FNB: Game-changing strategies, challenges and new opportunities;
- Ingrid Goodspeed, chief director of financial sector development, National Treasury: Protecting financial networks – Systemic risk and the national payment system;
- Monica Singer, CEO, Strate: Aligning CSD with financial markets infrastructures – Transformation, impact and opportunities;
- Prof Jackie Young, UNISA: Operational risk appetite – Strategic balancing act;
- Adv. Clive Pillay, ombudsman for Banking Services: Customer’s perspective: Setting standards to achieve optimum results;
- Stafford Masie, founder, Thumbzup: Digital clash of civilisations; and
- Graeme Holmes, PASA council chairperson: Mobile banking and money: Whole new world.