The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) held its 3rd Annual Supervision Outreach Session last week, in conjunction with the Compliance Officers Networking Group (CONG), to discuss the latest trends and developments in the financial sector.
The event was targeted at the DFSA’s regulated community, including compliance officers and money laundering reporting officers from its Authorised Firms and Designated Non-Financial Businesses or Professions (DNFBPs). Over 250 participants attended this year’s event, representing many of the 457 Authorised Firms and 119 DNFBPs now operating in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). This year’s number of attendees is reflective of the significant growth that the DIFC continues to see in its financial services community and supporting industries.
The event also represented an opportunity for the DFSA to provide an update on its current and future policy agenda, trends in recent regulatory actions and current risks and issues in the wealth management, broking, banking and insurance sectors.
In his opening remarks, Mr Ian Johnston, Chief Executive of the DFSA, commented that in the past twelve months, the global supervisory agenda had shifted from policy development to implementation, and more recently to new technologies and business models as seen through financial technology (FinTech).
Mr Johnston said: “The challenge that regulators face is around the speed of customer adoption and market penetration of these new business models, as well as the right balance of investor protection. While there is agreement that regulators should not stand in the way of innovation, there is also an understanding that we must not lose focus on market integrity, financial stability and customer protection.”
Mr Bryan Stirewalt, DFSA’s Managing Director of Supervision, discussed a variety of macroeconomic and compliance trends around the globe, as well as the current areas of focus for supervision of firms operating in and from the DIFC. Mr Stirewalt noted new areas of emphasis for supervision in fostering innovation in financial services, focusing more attention to operational risks and becoming even more efficient as a regulator.
Participants also discussed the opportunities and challenges posed by FinTech, including the DFSA’s regulatory framework for crowdfunding and the evolving Dubai ecosystem for FinTech. Recent initiatives to support the development of this market include the DIFC’s accelerator programme, FintechHive@DIFC, and the proposed introduction of the DFSA’s Innovation Testing Licence to facilitate the testing of new technology.
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