Dr. Zeti Azi, Governor of Malaysia’s Central Bank, delivered the inaugural Keynote Address at historic forum in the UKEthical finance leaders from Europe, East Asia, the Middle East and Africa gathered today at a historic forum for the global responsible investments industry. The Global Ethical Finance Forum (GEFF), with the official support of the Scottish Government, become host to over 250 leaders from the Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and faith-based investing sectors. Key asset managers, institutional investors, services providers, regulators and academics converged at the prestigious Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh. GEFF is providing the first meaningful global discussion on opportunities for convergence and collaboration across the disconnected segments of ethical finance.
Opening the historic forum was Keith Brown MSP, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment & Cities, who said: “We have created an opportunity in Scotland with a focus on international opportunities to foster opportunities in ethical finance” Scotland as the backdrop for the inaugural forum was very fitting given its very strong heritage in ethical finance and immeasurable contribution to the creation of financial institutions and early professional bodies specializing in ethical finance. Indeed, Mr. Brown reiterated that “Creating a fairer society is not just a good on its own, it is also essential for long-term prosperity.”
The historic nature of GEFF was premised partly on the fact that it brought together leading players from both emerging and developed markets. Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, provided the Opening Keynote Speech. Globally renowned as the voice of emerging economies in highlighting their role in the global economy, Dr. Zeti articulated the ways in which we can build a financial system that supports sustainable economic development. She said: “the value of financial intermediation includes mobilize savings, promoting the efficient allocation of resource, reducing informational asymmetry, and manage risks. Emerging markets have benefited from transformative role of finance in the development of emerging markets in the 21st century”.
The Governor’s speech will be followed with an exceptional line of experienced and respected industry practitioners who assembled from various jurisdictions to provide valuable insights into developing the responsible finance sector, building an SRI Sukuk market, ESG screens, international standardisation and much more. The day will culminate with what promises to be an engaging discussion with economic historians on the importance of ethics in finance, tracing the history of ethical finance from its roots with the Quakers. This history demonstrates that the industry’s origins are faith-based and indeed the faith motivation has made a resurgence recently with Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment and the Istanbul Declaration of Muslim leaders demonstrating how secular and spiritually-driven approaches can support one another.
The conveners of GEFF, Middle East Global Advisors - an intelligence platform serving the Middle East North Africa Southeast Asia (MENASEA) region for the last 22 years - partnered with institutions that are leading by example in the financial industry. They include Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Alliance Trust Investments, DDCAP, Global Alliance for Banking on Values, The Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry (ALFI), Islamic Finance Council UK, Inclusive Finance Network Luxembourg, Thomson Reuters, Luxembourg for Finance, SEDCO Capital and the UK Sustainable Investment & Finance Association.
The lineup of speakers for Day 1 include powerhouses such as Ted Malloch, Professor at Oxford’s Said Business School, Dr. Marcos Eguiguren, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, Tirad Mahmoud, CEO of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Sasja Beslik, Head of Responsible Investments at Nordea Asset Management, Edward Mason, Head of Responsible Investment at Church Commissioners for England, Michael Bennett, Head of Derivatives and Structured Finance at the World Bank, and Sir Ewan Brown CBE, Chairman of Scottish Financial Enterprise.
The GEFF Exhibition was held along the side-lines of the forum and showcased the latest products, services and innovations from exhibitors representing leading industry organisations. The exhibition was formally conjointly opened by Dr. Zati Aziz and Hamza Yousaf MSP, Scotland’s Minister for Europe and International Development.
The 2nd day of GEFF 2015 continues on the 2nd of September and will witness the highly anticipated onstage interview of HRH Emir Muhammad Saunsi II, Emir of Kano by Dr. Sayd Farook, Vice-Chairman and CEO of Middle East Global Advisors.
Speaking ahead of his one-on-one, HRH Sanusi shared: "It is now evident in the aftermath of the financial crisis that the importance of values cannot be overlooked in the financial system. The major stakeholders especially the regulators are expected to play a key role in making sure that the financial institutions not only abide by law but remain ethical in their practices and work towards the betterment of society in addition to achieving their financial goals.” Looking forward to the event, he said, “The global ethical finance forum will address these issues and I look forward to sharing my experiences at the forum."