Policymakers, business leaders & economists assess global outlook

The newly launched FintechHK Startup Salon presents a plethora of next-generation business ideas from financial institutions and technology firms from Hong Kong and beyond.
The newly launched FintechHK Startup Salon presents a plethora of next-generation business ideas from financial institutions and technology firms from Hong Kong and beyond.

The 13th Asian Financial Forum (AFF) opened this morning and runs for two days at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC). Under the theme “Redefining Growth: Innovation, Breakthrough, Inclusiveness”, the event brings together more than 100 influential global financial experts, policymakers, business leaders, economists and investors to examine the current global economic landscape and share insights on the environment businesses will face in the coming year.

This year’s AFF will feature discussions on a wide range of issues including the new global economy, fintech, sustainable and inclusive development and green finance, offering participants a head start in identifying new economic challenges and opportunities.

Overcoming obstacles and moving forward

Margaret Fong, HKTDC Executive Director, and Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, officiated at this morning’s opening ceremony. In her welcome remarks, Ms Fong stated that the global economy will continue to face challenges against the backdrop of the Sino-US trade dispute and increasing geopolitical tension. At the same time, Hong Kong is also expected to experience unprecedented challenges in the face of a difficult local and international economic environment. However, she also pointed that the city has always shown great perseverance and will continue to adapt to an ever-changing business environment.

Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, said in her opening remarks: “Hong Kong, with its strategic regional location and its extensive, ever-deepening cultural and financial links with the mainland, is China’s international financial centre, contributing to the sustainable progress of the country, the region and the world.” She added that the Asian Financial Forum represents Hong Kong’s wide-ranging strengths and resilience as an economy and a community.

Dr. Janet L. Yellen shares perspectives on monetary policy

Dr. Janet L. Yellen, Chair, Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System (2014–2018)
Dr. Janet L. Yellen, Chair, Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System (2014–2018)

The keynote luncheons at the AFF are always highly anticipated. The keynote speaker on the first day this year was Dr. Janet L. Yellen, Chair, Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System (2014-2018), in a session moderated by Norman Chan, Senior Advisor of the Hong Kong Academy of Finance. Dr Yellen shared her perspectives on the independence of central banks and the implementation of monetary policy, and also offered her views on the global economy and the impact of the Sino-US trade conflict. Dr Yellen took questions from the audience on related issues.

Heavyweight international speakers address how to redefine growth

The AFF opened with a plenary session titled “Redefining Growth: Innovation, Breakthrough, Inclusiveness” at which policymakers shared their insights and expertise on innovative ways to provide impetus to the development of the financial services sector, and how to enhance inclusive development amidst increasing challenges in the global macro-environment. Heavyweight international speakers included Jin Liqun, President and Chairman, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; Peter Szijjarto, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hungary; and Uttama Savanayana, Minister of Finance, Thailand.

The outlook for 2020 is riddled with uncertainties. At the Policy Dialogue session, “Global Outlook and Opportunities for 2020”, international financial experts came together to share their thoughts on the global outlook in the face of risks such as unsustainable corporate debt levels, volatile capital flows and disrupted supply chains due to geopolitical tensions, and examine how policymakers can support the economy and financial institutions. Chaired by Arthur Yuen, Deputy Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, this session featured distinguished guests including Sergey Shvetsov, First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Russia; Burkhard Balz, Member of the Executive Board, Deutsche Bundesbank; and Martin Raiser, Country Director for China and Mongolia, and Director for Korea, World Bank Group.

ESG and sustainability key global issue

Four panel discussions were held in the afternoon today including “Evolution of Global Trade and Supply Chain Finance”, which examined the impact of supply chain finance and assessed emerging trends with a focus on driving innovative and inclusive solutions that can support SMEs, sustainability and emerging markets. Speakers included Natalie Blyth, Group General Manager, Global Head of Global Trade and Receivables Finance, HSBC; William Fung, Group Chairman, Li & Fung Limited; Salman Fazlur Rahman, Private Industry and Investment Adviser to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and Chairman, IFIC Bank Limited; and Bill Winters, Group Chief Executive, Standard Chartered PLC.

The panel discussion on “Asset and Wealth Management in Asia: New Frontiers, Challenges and Opportunities” discussed relevant market developments in Asia and examined how industry players can better position themselves to embrace and capitalise on opportunities in the region. The panellists included Howard Lee, Deputy Chief Executive, Hong Kong Monetary Authority; Geraldine Buckingham, Chair of Asia Pacific, BlackRock; Suyi Kim, Senior Managing Director, Head of Asia Pacific, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB); Julia Leung, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, Intermediaries, Securities and Futures Commission; and Amy Lo, Chairman, Executive Committee, Private Wealth Management Association and Head and Chief Executive, UBS Hong Kong Branch.

The panel discussion on “Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)” examined the importance of impact investing, with the panellists – Yasuyuki Kawasaki, Deputy Chairman of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group; Arnout van Rijn, Chief Investment Officer Asia Pacific and Fund Manager, Robeco Asia-Pacific Equities and Robeco Asian Stars Equities; and Andrew Yan, Founding Managing Partner, SAIF Partners – giving insights on the value of ESG integration. The final panel discussion, “Insurance and Inclusive Growth in Asia”, included Moses Cheng, Chairman, Insurance Authority; Winnie Wong, Board Member of the Financial Services Development Council, CEO of Asia Insurance Co Ltd and CEO & Executive Director at Avo Insurance Co, Ltd; Franz Hahn, CEO, Peak Reinsurance Ltd; Kevin Strain, Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, Sun Life Financial; Gordon Watson, Chief Executive Officer, AXA Asia; James Turner, Group Chief Risk Officer and Executive Director, Prudential plc; and Clarence Wong, Chief Economist Asia, Swiss Re. The panellists shared views on strategies for tapping insurance market opportunities in the region while supporting inclusive growth.

InnoTalks series to explore virtual banking and financial innovation

The second day of the AFF tomorrow will feature more stimulating and thought-provoking sessions. The Breakfast Panel, sponsored by Hong Kong’s Financial Services Development Council, will explore the city’s role in an ever-changing international trade environment and examine the latest trends and strategies. The InnoTalks series returns with various workshops exploring a wide range of technological issues relevant to the financial sector, including virtual banking and trade finance, financial innovation and digital currency, artificial intelligence, cyber security, fintech, innovative partnerships driving healthcare delivery, and entrepreneurship in the global start-up ecosystem.

The keynote luncheon on the second day will feature Abhijit Banerjee, winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics and Ford Foundation Professor of Economics of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prof Banerjee will address the subject of financial inclusion and share his thoughts on the economic policies and financial inclusion progress in developing countries, and India in particular.

Fintech Showcase returns with inaugural FintechHK Startup Salon

Launched last year, the Fintech Showcase returns in 2020, together with the inaugural FintechHK Startup Salon, to present a plethora of fintech innovations and next-generation business ideas from more than 80 fintech start-ups as well as leading financial institutions and technology firms from Hong Kong and beyond, including Assured Asset Management, BOCHK, CICC, HKT, NEC, Ping An OneConnect Bank and Standard Chartered Bank.

AFF Deal Flow Matchmaking promotes start-up collaboration

This year’s forum once again features the AFF Deal Flow Matchmaking session, co-organised with the Hong Kong Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, to provide deal-sourcing and matchmaking meetings for project owners and investors. Involving more than 500 investment projects, the session covers manufacturing, green technology, the Internet of Things (IoT), fintech and healthtech. Around 700 one-to-one meetings are expected to be arranged. The InnoVenture Salon is back for the third time on an expanded scale and with enriched content, making it the ideal platform to connect start-ups with potential investors and partners. Through the Startup Zone, Fireside Chat, Pitching, Startup Clinic, one-to-one matchmaking meetings as well as meetups with Hong Kong regulators and market facilitators, comprehensive support will be provided to facilitate the development of start-ups.

– Asian Financial Forum: http://www.hktdc.com/ncs/aff2020/en/main/index.html
– AFF programme: http://www.hktdc.com/ncs/aff2020/en/s/programme.html
– AFF speakers: http://www.hktdc.com/ncs/aff2020/en/s/speakers.html
– International Financial Week Website: http://www.internationalfinancialweek.com
– Photo download: https://bit.ly/3a80s8u


The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is a statutory body established in 1966 to promote, assist and develop Hong Kong’s trade. With 50 offices globally, including 13 in Mainland China, the HKTDC promotes Hong Kong as a two-way global investment and business hub. The HKTDC organises international exhibitions, conferences and business missions to create business opportunities for companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in the mainland and international markets. The HKTDC also provides up-to-date market insights and product information via trade publications, research reports and digital news channels. For more information, please visit: www.hktdc.com/aboutus. Follow us on Twitter @hktdc and LinkedIn.