NEWS & VIEWS
The annual Securities Industry Conference took place on Friday 7th October chaired by journalist and TV presenter Mary Nightingale. With speakers from the London Stock Exchange Group, Pershing, the Bank of England, and HMRC, the conference provided an insightful overview of the current securities industry and the changes to come in the future.
A prominent topic was the new FCA consumer duty, which will replace MiFiD. Though there is not a vast amount of information about the new consumer duty standards yet, the objectives are to set high and clear principles so that consumers understand how investments are made for them. These new duties will require firms to adapt to ensure that consumers are informed and protected when making financial decisions.
Another significant subject was women in finance. Tracey Davidson, Deputy CEO at Handelsbank, led a discussion on the importance of gender equality. Davidson highlighted that the pay gap in financial services is more than double that in other industries. A key way to mitigate this is through pay transparency – Davidson drew on her own experiences to showcase this as a vital way to ensure equality in the workplace.
The regional outlook for Europe in relation to the financial markets also served as a topic for discussion. Two key observations emerged: firstly, analysis by the London Stock Exchange group saw that while Asian and American markets have grown vastly after the 2008 financial crash, European markets have remained flat. This lack of activity in Europe may only be made worse by the second observation: the dire financial impacts the war on Ukraine will have. The war has seen the use of “hybrid warfare” where the financial system has been weaponised. Apart from this not having a deterring effect on the war, the use of measures such as limiting Russian reserves will drastically impact the financial system in the future. In order to push Europe to be a global financial leader, these observations must be kept in mind, while also looking for innovative ways to stimulate the markets.
Finally, the adoption of technology and a move to digital proved to be a central theme of the conference. According to Jose Antonio Perez, UK Regional Sales Manager for Digital Solutions at Allfunds, the use of digital has become more appealing due to increased competition, regulation, AUM and transaction volumes, and reduced fees. Pivoting to digital services can help firms scale their businesses and attract and retain clients. This use of technology can also help facilitate data collection and processing.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is one of the bodies seeking to become a “digital authority” by taking advantage of improved technology. Speaking on behalf of HMRC, Director General of Customer Strategy & Tax Design, Jonathan Athow, recognised digital’s ability to drive efficiency, improve customer experience, and be a cost-effective method of exchanging data and ensuring greater compliance. He acknowledged HMRC’s desire to encourage a migration to digital, having already implemented a web chat feature and hoping to move to pre-populated self-assessment forms.
The increasing prevalence of technology across bodies such as HMRC will mean that companies who deal with tax must also adopt digital means to coordinate their services with those offered by others. The conference thus highlighted that industries (such as securities and technology) do not exist in silos but can be combined to complement and enhance one another.
Overall, the Securities Industry Conference provided a wealth of knowledge on present economic and social issues. The speakers offered invaluable analysis of pay disparity, market turmoil and more, while also motivating attendees to find solutions in order to create a more equitable and innovative industry.