European Asset Management Conference 2021 - Wrap up of Day 4

19 Mar 2021 | Press Releases  

The final day of the event focused on strategic themes facing the asset management industry and Luxembourg’s place in it, including sustainable finance, planning for future demands from different types of investors, how the local financial industry will attract and retain young blood in the post-Covid world, and the impact on reasons for investing of people living longer lives.

Camille Thommes, Director General, ALFI, noted the busy ongoing work of the Association over the past year, dealing with Brexit and helping members prepare for the SFDR and subsequent regulatory requirements in the pipeline. With a representative office in Brussels, he noted that the Association responded to some 24 regulatory consultations over the period, and worked hard to aggregate its own and member responses beyond sustainable finance and alternative assets to also cover issues such as outsourcing, safekeeping of assets and valuations of assets of AIFs.

Staying with the key theme of sustainable investing, Michael Maldener, Managing Director & Conducting Officer, Nordea Investment Funds SA, interviewed Andrew McDowell, Partner, Advisory and Strategy PwC, for his thoughts on “looking beyond the rim of the teacup” – in other words, to look up and ahead at the key challenges and opportunities for Luxembourg. 

McDowell stressed that investors and the asset management industry more broadly need to recognize that the challenge of sustainable investing lies beyond regulation and compliance, and that the SFDR marks the start of a strategic journey. This proffers huge opportunities for a financial centre such as Luxembourg in ‘green finance’, in the same way it previously benefitted from being a ‘first-mover’ on UCITS. But there will be competition from jurisdictions such as Ireland.

The panel of Sébastien Danloy, Global Head Asset Owners and Managers, HSBC Securities Services, Stephen Cohen, Head of EMEA iShares & Wealth business and Index Investments. BlackRock, Guillaume Prache. Managing Director, BETTER FINANCE, and Peter Preisler, Managing Director, Head of Marketing and Business Development, Europe & Africa, Oaktree Capital Management, L.P., attempted to look ahead through a crystal ball to understand what future demands there may be from large pension funds, European distributors and end investors, advances in fintech will drive down costs and open up new ways of offering mass customisation. But the industry must also ensure solutions are suitable to build rather than risk destroying trust – particularly important as the industry shifts capital towards, say, specialist elements of sustainable investments such as renewables, throwing up a whole new challenge of educating financial professionals to also understand environmental factors.

Noel Fessey, CEO, EFA, Micaela Forelli, Managing Director, Luxembourg | Head of European Distribution, M&G International Investments S.A., Carlo Thelen, Director General, Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, and Rachel Treece, CEO, fts global and the Henka Institute, contributed to a panel of different sorts, as they pondered the effect Covid has had on their respective organisations in Luxembourg, and how they may evolve in the post-pandemic world.

In a wide-ranging discussion, they touched on local infrastructure and cross-border travel for commuters, the evolution of the academic sector to churn out graduates with relevant skillsets, the factors that have affected and will continue to affect in-house training of the next generation of leaders amid a digitalisation trend, and what hybrid model of office and telecommuting may come to shape the future of the local financial industry.

Andrew J. Scott, Professor of Economics, London Business School & The Longevity Forum, provided the final keynote of the conference. He noted how the average lifespan is increasing by some 2-3 years every decade. The implications are profound for both society and the individual. Advances in longevity could bring an additional 100,000 hours of life, which may be partly pursued through work, but equally elsewhere. “Do you like your current job? What will keep you motivated? How do you keep healthy?” the professor asked. If people are living longer, they need to age well.