Travelogues: President Daly and the Asia Program Team Cross Bridges to Singapore (June 2019)

San Francisco Fed

“Sitting an ocean away, the San Francisco Fed is the closest Reserve Bank to Asia — a significant region in an interconnected global economy and financial system.”

The Bank’s Asia Program “allows us to not only facilitate the exchange of information on issues and developments in Asian financial sectors, but also brings together a global community of people involved in the Asian financial system.”

Or as our colleagues so eloquently put it:

“You can’t just build the bridge, you have to cross it. And so do your counterparts.”

So, this summer, President Daly and our colleagues, crossed the Pacific Ocean to meet with community members, experience a different culture, and work with our counterparts in central banking and financial regulation.

Banking for the Common Good

What impact does banking have on the function and well-being of society? What role can trust play in finance? How can culture change help steer us toward a safe and stable financial system?

These are some of the topics the Bank’s Asia Program and the Monetary Authority of Singapore wanted to explore in their 2019 Symposium on Asian Banking and Finance.

President Daly delivered a keynote on “Becoming Owners: The Business Case for Customer-Centered Banking”:

Banking for the common good. It’s a natural evolution of the conversations we’ve been having at this event, and many like it, for the past several years.

Being more customer-focused … using finance to create inclusive growth … understanding the role that organizational culture plays in all of it … these are hot topics for both the financial services industry and regulatory institutions. And progress has been made.

Yet consumers remain wary — even a little skeptical — of financial firms.

Banks — large and small — need to become owners. Owners who are committed to — and accountable for — doing right by their customers and their communities.

You might be thinking that sounds like a lot. Or maybe that it’s even too high of a standard. But speaking from experience, I can tell you: it is possible.

About four years ago, the San Francisco Fed decided to take a hard look at our own organization. What was working? What wasn’t? Our culture soon emerged as one of the biggest areas in need of improvement. So we decided to change it.

We started with the basics. We focused not only on what employees do, but also how they do it. And we emphasized skills and behaviors that would enable our best work … things like collaboration, emotional intelligence, influence, and critical thinking.

This was our starting point — our foundation. But something was still missing.

To really get to the next level, it became clear we needed to do more. We needed to become owners. Ready to hold ourselves accountable to our mission, vision, and values — no excuses. Prepared to trust our employees to do the right thing — even when no one is watching, and even when there isn’t a detailed rule book to follow.

This transition to a culture of owners hasn’t been easy. And we’re far from done. But embracing this mindset has changed us — and for the better.

We have a phrase in economics — incentive compatibility — that describes … the moment when the planets align, and what’s good for me, is good for you, is good for society.

We’re at that moment now for the financial services industry.

If you’re willing to become an owner … if you’re willing to put your customers and communities at the center of your business … banking for the common good will move beyond the title of this conference, and become the new industry norm.

Watch the video of President Daly’s speech below or read the text here.

President Daly with Ravi Menon, Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore
Tracy Basinger, Executive Vice President and head of Financial Institution Supervision and Credit, gave closing remarks to the Asia Symposium.

Talking “Street Signs” in Singapore

President Daly also stopped by CNBC Asia’s Street Signs, where she discussed the inversion of the yield curve, the U.S.-China trade war, and uncertainties facing the global economy.

“What really keeps me up at night is the data and the mood getting out of sync and, eventually, the possibility that the mood becomes the self-fulfilling prophecy of the data.”

— President Daly

Watch the clip here or read more here.

CNBC’s “Street Signs” team and President Daly

Singapore Management University

On her final day in Singapore, President Daly stopped by Singapore Management University’s Sim Kee Boon Institute for Financial Economics where she did a fireside chat with Vice Provost Phang, and SMU students. (Such insightful questions from Sim Kee Boon students!)

Goodbye Singapore! Until next time.

The SF Fed team and other partners in Singapore!
San Francisco Fed

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