The UAE Banks Federation (UBF) will be hosting its 4th Middle East Banking Forum in Abu Dhabi at the St. Regis hotel on the Corniche on Monday, 14 November. The theme of this year’s annual conference is “transforming the customer experience” with key topics, including “de-risking” and its impact on regional banks.
This conference is held in cooperation with the Financial Times Live and The Banker. It is sponsored by Daily News Egypt.
Amongst the events of the conference and the variety of sessions, a high-level panel discussion is scheduled for during the half-day event to explore the effects and ramifications of de-risking.
De-risking is when correspondent banking relationships are constrained or blocked by international regulators protecting their banks from perceived risk (eg money laundering or financing terrorism) in certain markets.
The panel will discuss a range of related topics, such as how banks manage de-risking, how it affects their small- and medium-sized corporate clients in the Middle East in particular, and how to avoid its unintended consequences.
His Eminence Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair, chairperson of the UBF, said that the world is living in a digital era, where everything is quicker and less complicated but with more challenging regulations, adding that banks have to implement further efforts to promote and strengthen the bonds of trust in the financial world.
“Trust about where someone’s money comes from, trust about who they are, trust even deriving from where they live,” he said. “Today, de-risking is on everyone’s minds—not only banks, but corporates and individuals as well.” He noted that the aim of this year’s forum is to gather experts from around the world and try to come up with solutions that will benefit all stakeholders.
On the panel addressing this issue will be Ajay Badyal, head of the Assurance and Advisory Services Unit of the Compliance Function at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Justine Walker, director of Financial Crime at the British Bankers’ Association (BBA); and Redmond Ramsdale, senior director and head of GCC Bank Ratings at Fitch Ratings.
Keynote speakers at the event include Ron Kaufman, an award-winning customer experience consultant, leadership and motivational speaker, expert in building customer service culture, and founder of “UP! Your Service”; and Marcus Treacher, global head of Strategic Accounts at Ripple, a San Francisco based company which provides global financial settlement solutions to banks across the world. He was previously in global leadership roles at HSBC for 12 years and served as a member of the Global Board of SWIFT from 2010 to 2016.
Al Ghurair said that banking, as a business, used to be less complicated, with fewer regulations. “The choice of services was simple compared with the myriad now on offer,” he added, noting that trust was a central pillar in an individual’s or company’s relationship with their bank.
“The emergence of a much more complex world has changed all that,” he said, highlighting the need for a surge in banking regulations to keep up. Moreover, he said that whether event-driven or otherwise, the pace of digital innovation, increasingly cunning and technically savvy fraudsters, and information security threats is reaching unprecedented levels.
“Though banks have enhanced and enriched the lives of one if not two generations, trust has taken a beating,” he added.
He noted that this means that customers have had to answer a lot more questions from their banks, where failure to convince them completely of their bona fides can result in closure of accounts by their banks.