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Looking at 2019 in the year view mirror

by Lewis Panther | 10 Dec 2019
Looking back over the past 12 months, it’s been yet another incredibly busy year for the publications at FINSIA.

We’ve published dozens of stories in The Standard and InFInance, relaunched The Australian Journal of Applied Finance and continued to circulate Insights Review.

Here’s a look back at some of those that might be worth a re-read over the summer holidays.

With Kenneth Hayne publishing the final report on the Royal Commission in February, we organised an interactive webinar giving a first response to his 76 recommendations.

Volt founder Steve Weston, who experienced an overhaul of the banking industry in the UK after the fallout from the GFC, said he did see a ray of hope, adding: “We are in the same movie, albeit four, five or six years behind.”

The newly-formed Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) held a series of roadshows with FINSIA during March and April, revealing just how badly customers felt they had been treated judging by the massive flood of grievances it received during the first few months of operation.

When we caught up last month AFCA Chair The Hon Helen Coonan revealed there was no slowdown in the number of complaints - which was up 36% on its predecessor.  

Our AGM in June saw a packed audience hear AMP Chairman David Murray praise FINSIA’s return to the education space. Outgoing President David Gall acknowledged the challenges facing financial services and urged the organisation that started out more than 130 years ago with the same strategy to continue to strive for professionalism.

He said: “I feel excited for what we have so far achieved in building education programs and events that will raise professional standards and help to rebuild trust, confidence and pride in our industry.”

New FINSIA president Victoria Weekes highlighted the need to continue the drive to deepen professionalism and a continued commitment to gender diversity.  

"Gender diversity is a business problem which will deliver huge rewards if we get it right,” she said.

June also saw the publication of Dash Nyamjav’s story and his early life in the rugged and harsh Mongolian landscape. Growing up in a family of nomads really is a world away from the Sydney’s CBD.

But the determination of the MBA student on the FINSIA mentoring programme to work in financial services is an inspirational story that everyone in the sector should read.

A recurrent theme during 2019 was the growing importance of ESG in financial services, which we covered in a series of articles.  

High-flying Kat Dunn’s rollercoaster journey from the poverty-stricken streets of Manila - to walking away from corporate life, feeling like a fraud before ending up as CEO of a socially responsible bank - makes thought-provoking reading. 

Two academic panelists who gave interviews before appearing at FINSIA’s signature Summit highlighted the growing pushback against social media, particularly Facebook.

Dr Kingsley Jones told how his Jevons Global investing advisory firm ditched shares in Mark Zuckerberg’s monolith over ESG issues. And world leading economist Professor Peter Bossaerts said that the plans for its own currency Libra would be a disaster for customers.

That the environmental aspect of ESG was front and centre of financial services was highlighted in an another interview.

Simon O’Connor, of the Responsible Investment Association Australasia, revealed almost half the $2.24trillion managed by professional investors is in a climate aware portfolio compared to just 17 per cent of the total six years ago.

O’Connor referred to a speech by APRA’s Geoff Summerhayes, which contained what has to be one of the quotes of the year when he said: “When a central bank, a prudential regulator and a conduct regulator, with barely a hipster beard or hemp shirt between them, start warning that climate change is a financial risk, it’s clear that position is now orthodox economic thinking.”

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