Modern institutions play a significant role in our lives – from wealth management to insurance and everything in between, financial service providers help prepare us for the future while managing risk of the unknown. That said, many startups are beginning to assert large institutions as costly middlemen ripe for technological disruption. They claim to leverage blockchain and other emerging technologies in their products to promote decentralization and connect users directly within the financial services industry. If this trend continues, what will happen to the role played by today’s institutions? Will it increase or continue to decrease in the future? How would a society with fewer institutions look?
These were all questions raised to the panelists on January 14, 2020 at the Asian Financial Forum (“AFF”) 2020. Assured Asset Management hosted a workshop titled “The Impact of Technology on Financial Services: Are We All Ready?” The event raised the central question, ‘Are financial service providers sufficiently positioned to adjust to impending technology-driven changes within the industry?’ With a packed room in attendance, the workshop was among the most popular at AFF.
Five distinguished panelists participated in the discussion: Robert Cheung, CEO of Assured Asset Management; Francesca Cornelli, Dean of the Kellogg School of Management; Jonathan Larsen, Chief Innovation Officer at Ping An; Nelson Chow, Chief Fintech Officer at HKMA; and Frederic Lau, CEO of Airstar Bank Limited. The panel was sponsored by Co-founder and CIO of Assured Asset Management, Angie Lin and moderated by serial fintech entrepreneur, Soul Htite.
The event was structured as a debate, splitting panelists by their views on a series of questions that spanned innovation, the role of institutions, financial regulation, higher education, and the future facing a technology-driven society. Audience members were encouraged to vote on the questions prior to and following the panel debate as a measurement of panelists’ influence on audience opinion.
While the panelists may have held opposing views on certain points, there was a universal agreement that Hong Kong has, and continues to, position itself well to capture opportunities arising from technological change. Between supportive regulatory initiatives, elite higher education institutions, an emphasis on innovation at major financial institutions, and a flourishing startup culture, Hong Kong is at the heart of global financial innovation.
The question still remains – ‘Are financial service providers sufficiently positioned to adjust to impending technology-driven changes within the industry?’ Only time will tell.