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How stable is our world? – swisspartners – The art of finance

HOW STABLE IS OUR WORLD?
A commentary from Adrian Hasler

The importance of stability and security for the financial sector, politics and society

If we consider the events of the last decade, it is clear that we live in a period of major change – be it political transition, climate change or the ongoing pandemic. On the one hand, these dynamic shifts create new opportunities, but on the other they are also a source of great uncertainty in our society. For this reason, values such as stability and security are becoming increasingly important, as I will illustrate in the following two examples.

Example 1:
European financial market regulation

The international environment for financial service providers has fundamentally changed in the last twenty years. In the wake of the 2007/2008 financial crisis and the subsequent economic crises, systemically important banks and even some national governments had to be bailed out. These measures took a severe toll on public finances globally – and sparked immense uncertainty in society as a whole. International organisations created new regulations to prevent similar developments from occurring again in the future. The aim of these regulations was to eliminate any systemic shortcomings identified to date, and to enhance the stability of the system. The EU has bolstered these international developments and raised standards even further, while making it difficult for third countries to access the European market.

 

 

“Stability and security are extremely important geographic advantages, especially in times of major regulatory and political upheaval.”

Liechtenstein as a financial centre

Unrestricted access to the European market is of crucial importance to Liechtenstein as a member of the European Economic Area (EEA). This also means that Liechtenstein has to adopt European financial market regulations and has very little room to manoeuvre when it comes to implementing them in a specific context. There is no doubt that the onslaught of regulation presents significant challenges for financial service providers and will continue to do so in the future.

At the same time, the regulatory environment presents an opportunity for the Liechtenstein financial centre, as rules that apply at a
multilateral or global level create legal certainty and ensure a fair competitive environment – both of which are hugely important, especially when managing international wealth. This offers financial service providers scope to set themselves apart from their peers in other locations.

Liechtenstein is a broadly diversified financial centre and has extensive expertise in international and cross-border wealth management services. Stability and security are extremelyimportant geographic advantages that are increasingly sought by international clientele, especially in times of major regulatory and political upheaval.

“We have to become more crisis-resistant.”

Example 2:
Effects of the coronavirus pandemic

The world has been at the mercy of the coronavirus pandemic since March 2020. The repercussions on society as well as on various sectors of the economy are not yet fully quantifiable. Will we ever return to normal – and how will the new normal look? Or have we reached a turning point? It will probably be some time before we know the answers to these questions. However, the deep uncertainty that the pandemic has caused is already clearly visible within society. Many parts of the world were unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic when it struck. As a result, countries have taken very different – in some cases even opposing – approaches to managing the crisis. This has also added to the confusion. Ensuring stability and security is a requirement that governments have to meet, especially in times of crisis.

Lessons from the pandemic

What have we learned from the pandemic? It has become clear that both societies and economies are less robust than we thought. Much of what we took for granted is suddenly no longer guaranteed. Any weak points that we were aware of have been magnified by the pandemic. These are the aspects we must tackle in order to strengthen our resilience. In other words, we have to become more crisis resistant.

It is vital that we identify trends and developments early, draw the right conclusions and implement necessary changes in a timely manner. More specifically, this means being better prepared for future pandemics based on various scenarios being simulated by crisis management teams at regular intervals. Any identified weaknesses can then be rapidly eliminated. It is also important to improve and ensure co-ordination between European countries. Going it alone to the detriment of neighbouring countries must be avoided as far as possible. Different procedures at borders (such as border closures), for example, have led to misunderstandings, particularly in the region of Lake Constance. Open borders and proactive exchange are crucial factors that keep the European Economic Area alive. For this reason, it is also important to consider regional interests. Equally, I expect EU nations to fulfil their contractual obligations, even in periods of crisis. In my view, restrictions or blocks on exports are not appropriate and serve to erode confidence.

The last 18 months have taught us that there is more solidarity than we have historically been accustomed to. This is very encouraging and suggests that there is a good chance that we will maintain and foster this sense of social cohesion in the future. What it has shown me is that reliability is invaluable, especially in times of crisis. I consistently strived to uphold these values during my time as Prime Minister. I experienced first-hand how important it is for the public to have a government that takes a clear and decisive approach to steering the country through crisis. This has a stabilising effect on a society that craves security in highly challenging times.

“Reliability is
invaluable, especially in times of crisis.”

 

About Adrian Hasler

Adrian Hasler is a member of the Board of Directors of swisspartners AG, Vaduz, Liechtenstein. As Prime Minister of the Principality of Liechtenstein from 2013 to 2021, he was responsible for the Ministry of General Government Affairs and Finance. After studying business administration at the University of St. Gallen, Adrian held various management roles in industry and banking. He was Head of Controlling of the Thin Films division of Balzers AG from 1992 to 1996 and the Head of Group Finance at VP Bank in Vaduz from 1996 to 2004. From 2001 to 2004, Adrian was an MP and a member of the Finance Commission in the parliament of Liechtenstein. He became chief of the Liechtenstein National Police in spring 2004 and led the authority for nine years before being elected Prime
Minister of Liechtenstein in 2013.

adrian.hasler@powersurf.li

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