Financial Times Live organized European Financial Forum at the Dublin Castle on January 27. It gathered hundreds of finance executives and professionals not only from Europe, but from around the world. Fintech and digital finance got a very important role in the presentations and panels. It was probably also the hottest topic to discuss during the breaks. One fintech startup speaker even predicted that half of the audience will lose their jobs in the next 5 years due to the digital disruption.
The fund panel focused especially on the issues of fund business. Importantly the panel reminded that the performance of a fund doesn’t matter alone, it is often more important that the funds fees are competitive. They also discussed, how difficult it is to scale the best performing funds. Often top performing funds have a model or assets that work until a certain scale, but then performance starts to drop. And this is a big issue for companies that manage really significant capital.
The insurance panel talked a lot about data and new technology. They mentioned that a couple of years ago less than 0.002% of VC money went to insurance startups, but in 2015 it was already 1.5 to 2.0 percent. Data and data analytics help optimize pricing of insurance, but also e.g. to fight against fraud. MetLife’s Executive Vice President Marty Lippert gave an example that they also monitor social media. For example, if a person make a disability insurance claim after an accident, it can be revealing, what kind of activities and photos the person posts, when he/she claims he/she cannot work. This caused questions about privacy in the audience and some people commented that they couldn’t accept that an insurance company follows their social media account. Mr. Lippert commented that it is to avoid fraud and get better prices for insurances for all honest customers.
In his closing remarks Irish Minister of State Simon Harris highlighted, how the finance sector has become very important for Ireland. Ireland has now 38,000 jobs in finance, 12,000 of them outside Dublin, and they are high skill, well-paid jobs. He also wanted to emphasize that the Irish finance sector is now very healthy after the serious crisis and they have also been able to develop the regulation.
The conference was an excellent summary of the finance sector in Europe. It was a privilege to participate in it and meet the finance leaders around the world. Dublin Castle offered excellent facilities for the event in the heart of Dublin. Financial Times has done excellent work to gather so many top level finance people together. It also emphasized Ireland’s growing role in European and global finance business. One speculation topic during the day was UK’s EU membership and if the UK decides to leave the EU, it can make Ireland much more significant finance center inside the EU.
Jouko Ahvenainen is a serial-entrepreneur, Crowd Valley's Chairman and Co-founder of the Grow VC Group, a pioneer in new funding solutions, including equity p2p investments. He participated in changing US finance regulation, getting the Senate and President to allow crowdfunding and has worked with EU finance regulation. Jouko started his work with crowdfunding models in 2008. Jouko is a founder, partner and board member in several innovative digital finance companies, like Crowdbaron, Kapipal, Grow Advisors and Commoditarian. Jouko is also a member in the Transatlantic Economic Forum SME Access to finance group, and has been an advisor for US, European and Asian finance programs.