The 8th European Financial Congress was held in Sopot in the third week of June, on 18-20 June 2018. Taking place in a special year, which marks the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining independence, the tagline of the Congress was ‘On the centenary – for an innovative and secure future of the financial sector.’
The agenda of the three-day Congress included more than 40 plenary sessions, panel discussions and round-table debates, with discussions on key growth opportunities and challenges to the economy. One of the more important aims of those debates was to develop recommendations on the secure growth of the financial sector and whole economy.
In a letter that was read out during the opening ceremony, the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stressed the importance of the Congress and greeted its participants with the following wishes: ‘The Congress has made a significant contribution to the shaping of our reality through the recommendations it has produced. This body of expertise has repeatedly effected changes that have had a positive impact on the lives of our citizens. For the coming years, I wish us all a successful implementation of specific practical solutions that originated at this event.’
The President of the National Bank of Poland Adam Glapiński also addressed Congress participants in a letter, where he observed, ‘The tagline of this year’s European Financial Congress is “On the centenary – for an innovative and secure future of the financial sector”. As the President of the National Bank of Poland, I fully subscribe to those wishes on the centenary of our independence.’
The Congress began with a speech by the Minister of Finance Teresa Czerwińska, who emphasised that the stability of the banking sector is a special value to be cherished by everyone. She pointed out that ‘maintaining a high and constant rate of economic development’ is an incredibly important challenge to the Polish economy. This can be achieved by increasing innovation, as building competitiveness based on lower labour costs, which has been used before, is no longer enough.
The opening plenary session was chaired by Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, the Chairman of the EFC Programme Board, and attended by CEOs of key Polish financial institutions. The speakers recalled the most important successes of the Polish economy in the past hundred years. They also discussed the post-1918 and post-1989 transformation in Poland and debated which of the two was the greater challenge to the national economy.
The second session addressed technological revolution in the financial sector. Representatives of global technological corporations and think tanks who attended the session agreed that banks are currently participating in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and will have to fight for the market against tech companies. The participants also discussed how to improve security in the financial market and effectively protect it against cybercrime.
Panellists of the third debate discussed changes in the labour market. They highlighted the development of artificial intelligence and generational differences as well as the role of the young generation in contemporary business management models.
The next two days saw debates and workshops take place simultaneously in the following main thematic areas of the EFC:
- Macroeconomic and technological challenges to the banking sector
- Innovations and their impact on business models of financial institutions and systemic risk
- Models of supporting the development of innovative projects
- Business and risk in the financial market
- Investment attractiveness and risk in the Polish real property market
- Funding the housing sector
- Capital market growth strategy
- Financial conditions for sustainable economic development
- Corporate turnaround for companies in crisis
- Moral hazard as a plague of the 21st century
This year, the European Financial Congress began to draft Macroeconomic Challenges and Forecasts for Poland. This event saw the presentation of first forecasts for selected macroeconomic indicators and banking sector indicators as well as maps of the most important threats to economic prosperity and the stability of the financial system until 2021. The EFC agreed to present its forecasts twice a year, in June
Also presented at the EFC were forecasts based on a previous study about issues that will have the strongest impact on technology in the banking sector in the next few years. The findings of both studies served as a starting point for Congress round-table debates on macroeconomic and technological challenges. That part of the Congress culminated in a discussion between CEOs of the largest Polish banks on the most real threats and opportunities facing the Polish banking sector such as investor issues, including the financial market’s rate of return on capital and the need for consolidation, as well as issues involved in technological progress, including cybersecurity and the need to adapt to customer mobility and advancing digitisation.
The interlocutors were trying to predict the reactions of state banks to those challenges and describe likely scenarios. They also assessed the impact of anticipated changes on business and risk in banks as well as their possible consequences for the stability of the financial system and sustainable economic development.
During the EFC, the results were announced for the first pilot edition of the WIG30 Companies Investor Relations Rating. In addition to promoting and rewarding corporate transparency, the rating sets standards for information policy and communication with investors beyond those required by law. The study will be updated and published every year during the European Financial Congress.
This year’s Congress was accompanied by associated events such as the 2nd Poland Capital Summit, whose second edition focused on the real property market investment; and the fifth edition of the EFC Academy, a project addressed to young Poles, including outstanding students and graduates of Polish and international universities interested in finance. As part of an EFC Academy meeting at the European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk, citizens of the Gdańsk metropolitan area were invited to participate in a debate on problems that the demographic crisis poses to Poland and Europe.
The Congress concluded with the presentation of the 8th European Financial Congress Recommendations on the most important challenges to the Polish financial sector. The EFC Recommendations have already become a tradition and have repeatedly found application in amendments to legal regulations and economic life.
The body of expertise developed by the European Financial Congress in the last eight years includes seventy-eight EFC Recommendations, twenty-seven EFC Positions in international consultations and twenty-four EFC Publications.
The next, 9th edition of the European Financial Congress will take place on 3–5 June 2019 in Sopot.