Innovation, people power, the continuing pandemic and climate change will shape the global funds industry in future.
Those topics were front and centre of the discussions at the 2021 Guernsey Funds Forum. Titled Building Tomorrow, it was the first in-person, funds-focused event We are Guernsey has staged since the pandemic began.
Event keynote speaker, global futurist, author and CEO of Fast Future, Rohit Talwar, gave a fascinating overview of how technology is being applied across the world, in many different economic sectors. “We’re probably going to see more innovation in the next decade than in the entire history of humanity,” he said.
“Financial services are already benefitting, he added: “We’re seeing a massive amount going on in the funds space [some companies] are using machine learning to look at 100,000 past deals and using robots in the decision-making process.”
He added that Bitcoin has been the best performing financial asset every year since it launched in 2009 and noted the importance of Blockchain in meeting the demand for visibility, security and transparency in crypto currencies.
Four key themes dominated the two panel sessions – technology, people, the impact of Covid and climate change.
The first panel, which featured Marc Cohen of 1818 Venture Capital; Christian Gabriel, Founder and CEO of Capdesk; Robert McAdie, of BNP Paribas; and Guy Semmens of Gyrus, noted the importance of people, citing the tight labour market, global skills shortage and the impact of wage increases as accelerators of change.
“The pace of change needs to happen with people; there is a race going on in terms of who can get good engineers for example, and more generally, finding people with the right skills,” he said.
The impact of people of growth aside, Marc Cohen shared his perspective on the importance of people when picking investment winners. “We look at the founders. We look for people who have adaptability, resilience, intelligence and a deep understanding of the industry they are in, but who are not afraid to do something new and different.”
The panel agreed that while there are many issues yet to be resolved, capital flows into ESG are dominant and alongside the corporate shift into green, it’s moving in the right direction.
The importance of green finance was echoed by the second panel, featuring Damon Ambrosini of BDO; Tom Carey of Carey Olsen; TheCityUK CEO Miles Celic; and Daniela Silcock of the Pensions Policy Institute. They discussed how the industry might develop in future.
Miles Celic said: “COP26 wasn’t a flash in the pan. We are seeing a lot of transition financing, a huge appetite for green and sustainable financing; companies are leaning in, but fragmentation is challenging.”
Daniela Silcock added: “We need to start by asking what data do we need? Then we can consider how do we get it and how do we report on it before committing?”
Tom Carey added that Guernsey’s finance industry delivers against the nexus of tech and climate change: “Guernsey is well poised to take advantage of future trends in alternative fund management with its world-renowned expertise in private equity fund administrations, including innovations such as the first blockchain technology being created on the island.”
Miles concluded that there was much that Guernsey and the UK can learn from each other in terms of best practice and both can leverage their ability to move quickly to capitalise on the opportunities presented by emerging technologies.
“Guernsey is an example of a terrifically efficient and effective, globally-competitive centre outside of Europe. It’s nimble, it’s responsive, it’s proactive – exactly what the UK could be doing.”
We are Guernsey Chief Executive Rupert Pleasant said: “It is these very times that highlight the role that Guernsey plays, offering stability, substance and flexibility in a world where, as Rohit described, those who are not changing fast enough will become obsolete.
“Guernsey has always been at the forefront of innovation in financial services. The island launched the first-ever commercial deployment of blockchain technology for the private equity market, which addressed the needs of investors seeking greater transparency, security and efficiency. It’s clear that innovation, people, power and ability to move at speed are important to emerge from the pandemic and build tomorrow.”
Main image shows keynote speaker, Rohit Talwar.