Financial Markets: Increasing Complexity, Maintaining Stability

3–5 July 2019, ST. PETERSBURG

    The 26th International Financial Congress has ended in St. Petersburg. The main theme of the IFC – ‘Finances for Development’ – established the main agenda item – searching for a balance between the goals of developing and ensuring financial stability and the importance of the role of central banks in creating conditions for sustainable growth. This theme was reflected in the new signature style of the event. The IFC logo contained the image of St. Petersburg’s drawbridges, symbolizing development and dialogue and the search for common ground between business and regulators as well as between different sectors of the financial market.

    Roughly 1,300 participants from 35 countries, including EAEU countries, China, the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, and Italy, among others, came together to discuss the financial system’s contribution to the country’s economic development of the country and measures that can be taken in this regard. They included representatives of banks, insurance companies, pension funds, other financial market participants, the central banks of different countries, international financial institutions, and the media.

    Participants in this year’s international sessions included former heads and current senior executives from the central banks of Malaysia, Poland, Finland, Croatia, and the Czech Republic, including Economist and Chairman of the Central Bank of Malaysia (2000–2016) Zeti Akhtar Aziz; former Prime Minister, former Minister of Finance, and former Chairman of the National Bank of Poland Marek Belka; Chairman of JPMorgan Chase International and former Chairman of the Bank of Israel (1991–2000) Jacob Frenkel; and Professor of World Economics at Brandeis International Business School Stephen Cecchetti.

    The Russian financial sector was represented by the Governor of the Russian Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina; Russian Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Financial Markets Anatoly Aksakov; President and Chairman of the Board of Sberbank German Gref; and President and Chairman of the Management Board of VTB Bank Andrei Kostin, among others.

    The Congress business programme touched upon all aspects of the financial market. The IFC 2017 discussions focused on the development of the economy and finance, monetary and credit policy, banking business, payment system, pension savings market, insurance, microfinancing, financial technologies, financial accessibility, and financial literacy, among many other issues.

    In her speech, Governor of the Russian Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina focused on the bank’s strategic objectives and plans for the next five years.

    “Today is a time for focusing on this planning horizon and determining the overall strategy for the development of the financial market because right now our economy is at the start of a new cycle”, she said. “The Russian economy has resumed positive growth trends, albeit small ones for now. This year we expect growth of 1.3–1.8%. The agenda of stabilization and adaptation to external shocks that dominated in recent years has been naturally replaced by a discussion on how to launch the engine of economic development. This is precisely why the theme of this year’s congress is ‘Finances for Development’”, she said.

    The Central Bank chairwoman also noted that the discussions and debates held at the Congress events help to make progress in understanding the changes taking place in both the Russian and the global financial system.

    “Now that the situation has stabilized in the economy and the financial system, we have more opportunities to focus on development issues. And we will attach greater priority to issues concerning competition, new technologies, financial accessibility, developing long-term money instruments, and the capital market”, Nabiullina said.

    The business programme included a plenary session, a dialogue between Russian Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin and Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina, four panel sessions, 25 roundtables, and the Innotribe Startup Challenge. The Summer Macroeconomic School was organized for students, undergraduates and postgraduates as part of the additional programme. Four conferences were held on the day preceding the main Congress programme.

    For the first time, the Bank of Russia presented seven economic and financial studies this year devoted to various aspects of the modern Russian financial system.

    IFC 2017 featured an exhibition that represented six companies: VTB Bank, Gazprombank, the Agency for Housing Mortgage Lending, Sberbank, National Payment System Mir, and Russian Agricultural Bank.