PwC veterans among speakers for 12th Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong

14 January 2019

The Asian Financial Forum has kicked off for another year, with a team of senior PwC experts among a range of headline speakers.

Now in its 12th edition, the Asian Financial Forum (AFF) brings together leaders of the global financial and business community for discussions on market developments in Asia, with over 3,000 mostly CEOs and senior leaders from 46 countries and regions attending last year. Held over two days till the 15th, this year’s event in Hong Kong will feature up to 130 guest speakers, including a contingent of PwC veterans.

With this year’s theme ‘Creating a Sustainable and Inclusive Future’, the first day of proceedings kicked off with a number of honorary international guests, including the finance ministers of Malaysia, Luxembourg and Ireland. Among those appearing on Day One was locally-born PwC Asia Pacific and Greater China Chairman Raymund Chao, a thirty-year industry veteran who took on the regional chair role in 2017.

Day two of the event will see an additional trio of PwC leaders take the stage, as well as featuring a keynote luncheon sponsored by PwC and moderated by Chao. The keynote address will be delivered by April Rinne, an international thought-leader, speaker and consultant who will discuss current and future developments in the global and Asian sharing economy, and the potential ramifications for the financial services sector.PwC veterans among speakers for 12th Asian Finance Forum in Hong KongFollowing the keynote luncheon, PwC will host a panel discussion on the current state of blockchain, moderated by Duncan Fitzgerald, PwC Financial Services Risk & Regulatory Services practice leader for Hong Kong and Guangdong, and featuring the firm’s China and Hong Kong Financial Services Leader Matthew Phillips alongside expert panelists from blockchain industry associations and enterprise.

An enthusiastic supporter of blockchain – and putting its money where its mouth is with the purchase of a stake in blockchain specialist VeChain last year – the PwC-led panel discussion will examine the experience of companies well-versed with blockchain in different industries, while exploring the business case for blockchain investment as well as the regulatory climate, rules of engagement, and approach to partnerships.

Later in the programme for Day Two, PwC’s Hong Kong Asset and Wealth Management Leader Marie-Anne Kong will also feature in a panel discussion, on how technology is set to transform the global assets management sector – which, according to the forum’s briefing notes, is on the verge of a ‘once-in-a-generation shift in competitive dynamics’ due to the converging trends of digital, reduced returns on investment, increased regulation and demand for alternative assets, and an upsurge in active management.

Incredibly, the quartet of PwC senior representatives has close to 100 years of combined experience at the Big Four firm alone, with Kong and Chao joining PwC in Hong Kong in circa. 1991-92 and Fitzgerald and Phillips joining the firm locally in 1996-1997, Fitzgerald after putting in eight years at Deloitte, Haskins & Sells, and Phillips as one of the founding members of the firm’s deals team. PwC is also serving as the Knowledge Partner for this year’s event.


Accenture Fintech Innovation Lab applications open for Asia Pacific

08 April 2019

With over half a billion dollars raised by its alumni to date, Accenture’s FinTech Innovation Lab is back for another round in the Asia-Pacific.

Applications have now opened for the Asia Pacific edition of Accenture’s FinTech Innovation Lab, a 12-week accelerator programme for promising fintech start-ups which has seen over $1.5 billion raised in venture financing globally for its graduating alumni to date – a third of that for just 41 participating companies in the Asia Pacific. Both early and growth-stage fintechs are eligible to apply, with submission closing in May.

Launched in New York in 2010 before spreading to London and Hong Kong, the FinTech Innovation Lab is described as a collaborative, non-sales environment which brings execs from leading financial institutions together with aspiring fintech start-ups for mentorship, guidance and advice – augmented by a series of workshops and panel discussions covering areas such as procurement, technology architecture, and industry trends.

This year’s principal participating financial institutions include BlackRock, Morgan Stanley, Standard Chartered, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Credit Suisse among many more leading names from the banking and investment realm, while Elzio Barreto, Accenture’s Financial Services Media & Analyst Relations Lead for APAC will serve as a mentor alongside experts from Deutsch Bank, Stott Advisory and CBA International among others.Accenture Fintech Innovation Lab applications open for Asia Pacific

“There’s now widespread acceptance that the best way forward for banks and fintech startups is to collaborate where possible, creating big ecosystems that will help unlock huge value for all stakeholders, particularly consumers,” said Piyush Singh, Accenture Managing Director for Financial Services in the Asia Pacific and MENAT, with the firm noting a shift in focus between fintechs and traditional firms over the past 18 months, “from competition to collaboration.”

“We’ve already seen banks, insurers and wealth managers partner with fintechs here in Asia, but the outlook for further collaboration and the resulting value creation is what’s making investors more comfortable to spread their bets more widely,” Singh continues. “That’s a big focus for the Innovation Lab, instigating this sense of partnership between well-established financial firms looking for the next breakthrough technology and nimble startups eager to test their solutions and push them to market.”

With the APAC Innovation Lab now entering its sixth cycle, Accenture also notes the recent global surge in fintech investments, which doubled in 2018 to over $55 billion, led by a wave of funding to mainland China. “The Lab’s geographical proximity to the mainland makes it particularly suitable for Chinese start-ups, especially for those like ours looking to expand abroad,” said Li Hao, co-founder of Chinese unicorn Wecash – which was among the Lab’s first intake in 2014.

For the 2019 edition, senior business and operations executives from the Lab’s participating financial partners will select up to ten applicants to take part in the programme, with fintech entrepreneurs developing cutting-edge products, services and technologies invited to apply. Kicking off in August, the 12-week programme will culminate in an Investor Day where particpants can showcase their technology to finance executives, investors and the media.