More than 250 participants gathered at the Etablissement Namur, on November 15th, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Luxembourg Finance Summit. Several international and local speakers shared their expertise and discussed the latest trends, startups presented their innovative and disruptive solutions, and finally, the best practices were recognized through the Luxembourg Finance Awards.

The event started with Charlotte Boutelier, Head of Marketing, Farvest Group, briefly going over the history of the Luxembourg Finance Summit, which was created to federate an entire ecosystem composed of the funds industry, wealth management, real estate, corporate services, and lately, FinTech, InsurTech or even RegTech, with the emergence of new technologies.


10 years of finance…

François Masquelier (Treasurer RTL Group, Chairman of Luxembourg Corporate Treasury Association ATEL, Vice-Chairman of EACT) acted as Master of Ceremony and first stated: "These past ten years can be compared to a hurdle race: long, yet fast, tough and exhausting. But we are now better equipped to face risks and a potential future crisis". As a matter a fact, many regulations followed the crisis of 2008, from EMIR to MiFID2, all having a big impact on the treasury and finance sectors. And so will GDPR and PSD2, with the emergence of new FinTechs and innovative solutions. Moreover, the GAFAs are also close to entering the world of finance. In such a context, tech has evolved and has allowed the finance sector to cope with these regulatory changes: the new IT solutions notably bring more automation. "In the near future, robots, Artificial Intelligence and Business Intelligence will give us new opportunities and the finance community has big expectations. Yet, I do not think that the entire activity of treasury will be totally automated in the years to come," added the ATEL Chairman. He also addressed the topic of increasing cyberrisk, climate change, geopolitical risks. "Our current moto should be: transparency, substance and consistency. We aim at bringing value, and do to so, we need to be agile and adapt to a moving environment," concluded François Masquelier.

The Chairman of ATEL then moderated a fireside chat entitled "10 years of finance" which brought together David Arendt (Independent Director & Partner of The Directors’ Office), Justine Dimovic (Vice President Finance, Group Treasurer, Millicom), Guido Peiffer (Director, INTENSUM Group and Marie-Christine Lambin (Investment Manager of the Year 2015). According to Justine Dimovic, the treasury function has become way more digital over the last years: "tasks are digitalized, but it doesn't mean we need less people. We need different profiles and skills to create value and bring new solutions to the business". She highlighted that regulators did a tremendous job putting a lot of boundaries to protect the customers but also banks. They have also opened up new activities. She also added that cybersecurity is high on the agenda of treasury professionals. Guido Peiffer highlighted that the speed element, real-time data and remote access have become key in today's digital world. He explained: "It means that CFOs have more pressure and need in-depth knowledge of the business. They are more proactive and are not in the waiting seat anymore". According to him, the finance functions will soon be more involved in business growth and bring solutions to the business. An additional challenge: how can data be used efficiently? Marie-Christine Lambin explained that one of the biggest changes in the economic environment was the consequence of the monetary policies that have been implemented since the crisis and which resulted in rate cuts around the world. "It changed the management of portfolios, which are more and more difficult to balance as risk is everywhere. There is no place to hide because of a high market volatility and the current geopolitical context – with a rise in populism in several countries. Also, we are at the end of an economic cycle: are we heading to the next recessions? ". These are big question marks for Asset Manager which face more difficulties in the prediction of economic outcome. David Arendt insisted on the fact that regulation, from the airline business to real estate, meant a lot of hassle to go through, but that the biggest challenge was showing that you have time and that you are fit and proper to execute the job. "Whether or not robots and AI are going to replace us, we need to keep reinventing ourselves," explained the Independent Director.

…and Artificial Intelligence to come

Patrick Laurent (Partner and Technology & Innovation Leader, Deloitte Luxembourg) then took the stage for a presentation focusing on the new physics of financial services. The digital expert shared insights extracted from the latest report crafted by Deloitte and the World Economic Forum, whose mission was to explore the impact of technology and innovation on financial services. He started by sharing his definition of AI, which by the way, has evolved over time and will continue to change. "AI is a suite of technologies, enabled by adaptive predictive power and exhibiting some degree of autonomous learning, that have made dramatic advances in our ability to use machines to automate and enhance pattern detection, foresight, customization, decision-making and interaction," he underlined, before adding: "AI's scope starts with faster operations and goes all the way to creating new value propositions". Today, AI is already enabling financial institutions of every kind to drive new efficiencies and deliver new kinds of value in the different components of the financial sector. Patrick Laurent added that AI cannot be considered as a stand-alone tech, but clearly needs to be combined with the development of other technology innovations such as Blockchain, Cloud and Quantum Computing. Therefore, AI is changing the very "physics" of what it means to succeed in financial services, altering the attributes necessary to build a successful business in financial services. "Firms that will succeed in the future will be those that can ensure a defensive scale of data, virtuous cycles of date and a depth and breadth of data, in order to create tailored experiences, retention benefits and augmented performance," explained the Partner. In this respect, AI is changing operations as we expect a move from monolithic to modular, customer experience will go from mass production to tailor made, data is about to move from static stocks to portable flows and finally, the market structure will change and go from vertical silos to horizontal platforms. Patrick Laurent concluded: "responding to the new physics of financial services will require a challenging balance between competition and collaboration. Luxembourg will succeed thanks to its agility and DNA which excels at seizing new opportunities".

The organizers then welcomed Julien Hugo (Country Manager, Prodware Luxembourg) who shared his expertise in building a strong customer journey through a pragmatic approach. The digital expert started his presentation distinguishing transformation from natural expectations and by stating that today's consumers are used to digital top class customer experiences: they expect to find quickly what they are looking for. He then shared his definition of CX: "it is the perception that customers have of their interactions with your organization". Julien Hugo then went over the latest trends: by 2020, CX will overtake price and products and key brand differentiator, out of the Top 20 customer-centric companies in Luxembourg, 7 are from the financial sector. "In 2005, a study highlighted that 80% of executives believe that they are delivering a superior customer experience, while only 8% of customers agree. A recent study stated that we are at 75% against 30%... Why?", asked the Country Manager, who then answered: "companies don't take the time to really understand their customers: to listen (VoC), to characterize (personas), and to empathize (journey mapping). If they do these things, then they aren't using what they learned to design a better experience. And, finally, they fail to get the organization aligned around the work to be done and the experience to be delivered". Several approaches are already available, from digital marketing and listening to the use of a customer journey map: "most of the time, organizations have one of the two or have difficulties to leverage on the information to really improve their customer experience, satisfaction and loyalty. Those worlds have to talk to each other". And companies can now bet on tech and AI to speed up: they are able to find correlations in the database and segment their clients, continuously nurture the system and collect emotions, but also get insights and recommendations to meet the clients' expectations. "That way, they have a direct and concrete return of a CX approach on their revenues. Use tech to innovate, try to be different and bring the brand to another level. Also, as Bill Gates once stated, your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning," he concluded.

"AI-driven banking innovation" was the name of the presentation given by Martin Moeller (Digital Transformation Principal for Banking & Finance, Microsoft Western Europe). "Why is tech and AI now so interesting?" first asked Martin Moeller, who continued: "big companies are currently spending billions on R&D and notably on mixed reality, augmented intelligence and quantum computing". He then explained why Microsoft uses the term "Augmented Intelligence" instead of AI, stating that it was not about replacing humans but rather about complementing them with tech. In this respect, Augmented Intelligence focuses on the gaps or the biases and can answer to some of the banking industry's most important challenges: relevancy and personalization, which drives potential, helps keep good customers and grow new ones, fast and smart decision-marking, and finally, new competitive spaces, not necessary FinTechs, but GAFAs. Therefore, banks need to be powered by AI. Martin Moeller then shared several examples of AI projects that have been led by financial institutions. "RBS built a big data analytics platform for handling multiple terabytes of data and complex algorithms. They were able to cut the 4-hour query times to less than 15 seconds and therefore enable real-time insights. Zurich leveraged cognitive process automation to enable end-to-end omni-channel digitalization of its life insurance claims process. Delivered in 1 month by 2 people, it achieved 70%-time reduction to pay claims and returned 50% of operational capacity to staff," explained the Microsoft expert. He concluded: "AI enables a comprehensive transformation of the bank: it engages customers, it empowers employees, transforms products and optimizes operations. Today, being data-driven means being client-driven. And moreover, let's not forget that AI is still in its infancy…"


Innovative startups dealing with KYC, risk and Blockchain

During the event, a Startup Pitches sessions was also organized and powered by the LHoFT (Luxembourg House of Financial Technology). First, Chris Marcilla (Chief Compliance Officer, KYC3) presented solutions which helps risk managers, business developers and legal professionals gather all the data they need in a reliable and time-effective way. Benjamin Hourte (CTO, EarthLab) then took the stage to present his solution whose mission is to supply geo-information services to focus on natural and industrial risk assessment and propose advanced services related to risk exposure for insurance, strategic economic assessment and asset management concerns in public and private sectors. Then, Keith Hale, (Non-Executive Director, Cygnetise Limited) pitched on front of the audience explaining how managing, auditing and distributing your lists is now easier than even by using the Cygnetise application, an authorizing signatory management on the Blockchain. Finally, Frances Mae Lintag (Financial Director, VNX) presented her startup, a marketplace and trading platform for tokenized venture capital assets, which aims at unlocking liquidity for the VC industry.


Also, the winners of the 2018 Luxembourg Financial Awards were announced. The event ended with the traditional networking cocktail and 10th anniversary celebrations, allowing finance professionals to further discuss the latest trends of the sector. InFinance would like to thank all the candidates and all the partners of the event: INTENSUM Group, Deloitte Luxembourg, LHoFT, Prodware, Microsoft, Clearstream, Telindus, Agefi, Entreprises Magazine, Leaders League, LAWM, LPEA, BEAST Magazine, Luxembourg Times and Entertainrr.


Alexandre Keilmann

Photos: Dominique Gaul

Publié le 16 novembre 2018