Europe’s banks deserve a lot of credit for weathering less than ideal conditions, such as ultra-low interest rates and profitability in conjunction with high levels of fintech competition and toxic debt. But while conditions haven’t improved much lately on the interest-rate side, the bad-debt situation is considerably brighter. Astute regulators and governments deserve much of the credit, but so do the banks themselves for revamping their management of nonperforming loans.
Mr. Simon Hughes of International Banker travels to Belgium to interview Mr. Johan Thijs, Chief Executive Officer, KBC Group, on the bank’s ongoing digital transformation, the innovation that drives that transformation and KBC’s wider role in society.
There are times when no one wants to see history repeat itself, and that’s the case among today’s investors in technology stocks. Some fear that the dot-com bubble burst of 2000 may repeat itself 20 years later. Although some tech stocks may be overvalued, the flourishing Fourth Industrial Revolution displays no signs of running out of steam any time soon. Caution is advised but not panic.
Little will be affected as much by the ageing of the world’s population as pensions. In Europe, the ratio of workers to pensioners has decreased and in 40 years will be roughly two to one rather than the much healthier four to one of the recent past. Many wonder from where the pension funds will come, and they should. The solution may lie in the new Pan-European Personal Pension Product.
Interbank offered rates, the interest rates at which banks lend and borrow in the interbank market, are being replaced by risk-free rates, partly due to past rate-rigging scandals. In Europe, what is in itself a tricky conversion has been made even more complicated by the implementation of the wider EU Benchmark Regulation. Market participants must not delay in preparing to meet the transitional challenges as the deadline draws nearer.
The financial crisis a decade ago exposed the considerable challenges of resolving large, globally active banks. In the United States, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – which has insured deposits and resolved failed banks since the Great Depression era – is one of the agencies leading the resolution planning effort. The chairman of the FDIC discusses the Corporation’s current bank resolution tactics in a global environment.
The European Commission’s Capital Markets Union Action Plan, introduced three years ago, is intended to make capital more readily available to businesses and encourage economic and job growth within the EU. Substantial strides have been made, yet there is much more to do, especially as subsequent events such as Brexit have altered the landscape. How far has the CMU Action Plan progressed to date, and how much farther has it still to go?
Relations are growing frostier globally, as political leaders become more nationalistic. And this change in climate is impacting economies, rendering them less cooperative. Two significant changes affecting the global business cycle include the US Fed’s tighter monetary policy, the impacts of which have rippled throughout the world, as well as the geographical shift of the centre of manufacturing production to the East, to the dismay of some Western leaders.
The stewardship responsibility of today’s bank has become more complicated in the light of climate change. Not only does a bank need to be cognizant of its responsibility to safeguard customer finances but also the future of the planet on which we all live. Green finance is an ever more significant influence on the decisions made by bankers determined to reconnect with the needs of society in more ways than just financial.
Financial Regulation—How to Find a Balance Between Costs and Benefits? Status quo, and possible ways forward
The decade following the financial crisis unleashed a torrent of regulatory requirements. Financial institutions have spent billions on technology and operations to achieve regulatory compliance; the frequency of new requirements is high. Despite all of this, regulators have not been satisfied with the quality of the data and level of transparency. How can banks and regulators strike a balance between the costs and the benefits of regulation?