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Technology, operational resilience critical to the future of financial services

Technology, operational resilience critical to the future of financial services

A stable financial sector is key to sustainable growth

Dubai Financial Services Authority

We have entered a period of particularly high economic uncertainty in 2020 and strength of leadership has never been more important. The strategic choices policymakers make now will steer our economic and societal transformation for many years to come.

A good example of this in action is the UAE’s global leadership position in coronavirus screening per capita. It has left us with no doubt that the UAE will adapt effectively to the new set of challenges. And we see it in the local business community, already adapting to a new normal and swiftly pivoting to new ways of doing business to support the recovery of the local economy.

Our approach follows the example set by the UAE leadership at federal and emirate level. While prioritising health and safety, the UAE has acted swiftly to safeguard the livelihoods and welfare of citizens and residents and has been proactive in handling the situation and allowing businesses to reopen at a measured pace.

The DFSA has consistently maintained its commitment to international standards of regulation and supervision, while taking a realistic and pragmatic approach to the difficulties faced by our regulated population during this crisis.

Business communities such as the DIFC have also devoted considerable effort to promoting the well-being of the community through supportive measures and constant communication, both locally and internationally.

The health crisis will eventually subside. However, the financial services community has undoubtedly been affected in a permanent way and we are all adapting, daily, to meet this change. Business communities and governments across the world have responded to the pandemic with a range of relief measures.

Early on, the DIFC announced regulatory relief measures for our firms and markets and, to date, they have had nearly 200 requests for regulatory relief and is working closely with firms to assist them through this period.

DFSA staff have held regular video conferences with key business leaders and bilateral discussions with many others, with a view to understanding the difficulties being faced by firms, so that we can make our responses as helpful as possible. These businesses are the lifeblood of every economy and governments and regulatory authorities should do everything possible to mitigate the issues they’re facing in the current economic environment.

Well established business communities and free-zones can draw on the financial capacity and management strength of the largest financial entities in the world. At the time of writing, the DIFC for example, hosts 22 of the 29 global systemically important banks operating here, alongside many of the world’s largest insurers and wealth managers. It follows, therefore, that they are well equipped to deliver on a wide range of financial services that will be essential to the recovery from the temporary financial difficulties, while providing a trusted platform of strength from which to grow in the future.

There is an enormous opportunity for growth across the financial services industry, particularly through further investments in regulatory technology. Electronic KYC, for example, allows more efficient client on-boarding, while continuing to protect the financial system from cybercrime, as well as others wishing to abuse the system for illegal means.

These introductions, along with continuous updates on measures and security, in many ways echo the words of the Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who recently noted: “Anyone who thinks the post-Covid-19 world will be the same as the one before is mistaken.”

Even as the global financial system faces its biggest test since the 2008 crisis, the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of Dubai remains as strong as ever.

This spirit is a characteristic of the UAE leadership, which infuses and inspires all who choose to live, work, and invest in this great nation. Our determination and resilience have only grown stronger in the face of adversity. A stable financial sector, with firms who engage professionally with their clients to provide the products and services they need, is key to sustainable growth.

Bryan Stirewalt is the chief executive of Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA)

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