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Luxembourg Finance Summit: from digital transformation to AI

More than 250 participants gathered at the Etablissement Namur, on November 15th, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Luxembourg Finance Summit. Several international and local speakers shared their expertise and discussed the latest trends, startups presented their innovative and disruptive solutions, and finally, the best practices were recognized through the Luxembourg Finance Awards.

The event started with Charlotte Boutelier, Head of Marketing, Farvest Group, briefly going over the history of the Luxembourg Finance Summit, which was created to federate an entire ecosystem composed of the funds industry, wealth management, real estate, corporate services, and lately, FinTech, InsurTech or even RegTech, with the emergence of new technologies.

 

10 years of finance…

François Masquelier (Treasurer RTL Group, Chairman of Luxembourg Corporate Treasury Association ATEL, Vice-Chairman of EACT) acted as Master of Ceremony and first stated: "These past ten years can be compared to a hurdle race: long, yet fast, tough and exhausting. But we are now better equipped to face risks and a potential future crisis". As a matter a fact, many regulations followed the crisis of 2008, from EMIR to MiFID2, all having a big impact on the treasury and finance sectors. And so will GDPR and PSD2, with the emergence of new FinTechs and innovative solutions. Moreover, the GAFAs are also close to entering the world of finance. In such a context, tech has evolved and has allowed the finance sector to cope with these regulatory changes: the new IT solutions notably bring more automation. "In the near future, robots, Artificial Intelligence and Business Intelligence will give us new opportunities and the finance community has big expectations. Yet, I do not think that the entire activity of treasury will be totally automated in the years to come," added the ATEL Chairman. He also addressed the topic of increasing cyberrisk, climate change, geopolitical risks. "Our current moto should be: transparency, substance and consistency. We aim at bringing value, and do to so, we need to be agile and adapt to a moving environment," concluded François Masquelier.

The Chairman of ATEL then moderated a fireside chat entitled "10 years of finance" which brought together David Arendt (Independent Director & Partner of The Directors’ Office), Justine Dimovic (Vice President Finance, Group Treasurer, Millicom), Guido Peiffer (Director, INTENSUM Group and Marie-Christine Lambin (Investment Manager of the Year 2015). According to Justine Dimovic, the treasury function has become way more digital over the last years: "tasks are digitalized, but it doesn't mean we need less people. We need different profiles and skills to create value and bring new solutions to the business". She highlighted that regulators did a tremendous job putting a lot of boundaries to protect the customers but also banks. They have also opened up new activities. She also added that cybersecurity is high on the agenda of treasury professionals. Guido Peiffer highlighted that the speed element, real-time data and remote access have become key in today's digital world. He explained: "It means that CFOs have more pressure and need in-depth knowledge of the business. They are more proactive and are not in the waiting seat anymore". According to him, the finance functions will soon be more involved in business growth and bring solutions to the business. An additional challenge: how can data be used efficiently? Marie-Christine Lambin explained that one of the biggest changes in the economic environment was the consequence of the monetary policies that have been implemented since the crisis and which resulted in rate cuts around the world. "It changed the management of portfolios, which are more and more difficult to balance as risk is everywhere. There is no place to hide because of a high market volatility and the current geopolitical context – with a rise in populism in several countries. Also, we are at the end of an economic cycle: are we heading to the next recessions? ". These are big question marks for Asset Manager which face more difficulties in the prediction of economic outcome. David Arendt insisted on the fact that regulation, from the airline business to real estate, meant a lot of hassle to go through, but that the biggest challenge was showing that you have time and that you are fit and proper to execute the job. "Whether or not robots and AI are going to replace us, we need to keep reinventing ourselves," explained the Independent Director.