Under the aegis of King Salman, the Ministry of Finance, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) and the Capital Market Authority (CMA), the first Financial Sector Conference will take place in Riyadh on April 24 and 25.
One of the goals of the conference is to add value to the Kingdom’s financial market — the largest in the Middle East — which has developed rapidly over the past two years, ahead of the listing of the Saudi Stock Market on MSCI (in two phases — May and August 2019) and following its listing on FTSE (in March 2019), as well as the recent JPMorgan Emerging Markets Bond Index listing of the Kingdom’s international bond issues.
The conference is part of the Financial Sector Development Program (FSDP), itself a part of Saudi Vision 2030. The FSDP is one of 12 executive programs launched by the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA) to achieve the objectives of Vision 2030.
By 2020, the FSDP of Saudi Vision 2030 aims to raise household savings from total income from 2.4 percent to 10 percent, increase the contribution of financial assets in the Kingdom to GDP by 201percent, increase the percentage of adults who have bank accounts from 74 percent to 80 percent, increase SME’s share of total bank loans to 5 percent, increase insurance penetration to 3.2 percent, increase the share of capital assets to 45 percent, increase the share of mortgages in bank financing to 16 percent, increase non-cash transactions to 28 percent, and generate more high-paying jobs in the financial sector. Such conferences should help this to happen.
The comprehensive program of the two-day conference will disclose a number of financial investment opportunities to local, regional and international institutions, and cover several topics, including financial sector capacity building, financial technology (FinTech), competitiveness in the financial sector, Islamic finance, real estate finance, and the challenges and opportunities of the insurance market.
The specific goals of the conference include enabling financial institutions to support growth in the private sector, helping to develop an advanced financial market, and improving financial planning in all areas of society.
Speakers include ministers and government officials, prominent academics, international and local business leaders, and international investors.
An exhibition showcasing financial products and innovations will take place on the sidelines of the conference, allowing attendees to network and forge partnerships. The conference will also include a number of workshops and activities geared toward exploring challenges and opportunities in the financial sector.
Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan, who is also chairman of the FSDP, said, “The Financial Sector Conference will be the premier financial event in the Kingdom and the Middle East. It will attract decision-makers from the financial sector and senior executives from financial institutions (and) a number of prominent personalities in the financial sector who play an important role in the global economy.”
Al-Jadaan added: “The Kingdom is the largest financial market in the Middle East, in accordance with international indices, which is the primary reason for attracting foreign investment. Therefore, the Kingdom seeks to enable key industry leaders in finance, investment, insurance and banking to meet in one place to exchange experiences and information, discuss critical challenges, highlight important regulations and legislation, and review global best practices to develop the financial sector.”
Talat Zaki Hafiz is an economist and financial analyst.