Highlighting key global trends in regulation and compliance and corresponding developments in the UAE and the wider region, the UAE Banks Federation’s Regulatory Compliance in a Changing World forum was held on 27 June, 2018 in Abu Dhabi.

Marked by the presence of world-class speakers and acclaimed industry experts who tackled a number of issues and challenges facing the banking industry, the event attracted more than 160 delegates representing leading local and regional banks, financial services and fintech companies, legal, rating and consultancy firms. The one-day forum also saw participation from the Central Bank of the UAE and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM).

“We are pleased with the tremendous success of our ‘Regulatory Compliance in a Changing World’ forum. The event is a major milestone in UBF’s journey as it gathered local, regional and international financial industry leaders under one roof to discuss and explore latest regulation and compliance developments and their impact on the banking industry. We strongly believe that the insights from the thought-provoking sessions at the forum will help local and regional banks, and the industry as a whole, to set their future strategies in order to thrive in a safe, competent and compliant business,” said HE Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of UAE Banks Federation.

The strategic forum featured more than 20 speakers who led thoughtful panels and sessions to discuss key regulatory concerns, effective ways to deal with financial crimes, as well as how technology can support regulatory implementation. The event witnessed insightful deliberations as four stimulating panel discussions progressed.

The industry continues to leverage new technologies to develop innovative banking solutions. However, new as technology advances, risk landscape continues to expand alongside, forcing regulators to constantly change regulatory and compliance practices to sustain a safe and robust banking system.

Similarly, the cost of compliance has skyrocketed in the constantly changing world of regulation, with banks and financial institutions dedicating budgets as well as 10-15% of their staff to meet regulatory requirements. Financial institutions with $10 billion or more in revenue increased their average spend on KYC-related procedures to $150 million in 2017, up from $142 million in 2016. Meanwhile, the number of KYC compliance professionals at these institutions grew to an average of 307 last year, from 68 in 2016.

In the UAE, the banking industry is projected to record a steady improvement in asset growth and profitability in 2018 and the next year on the back of stable macroeconomic and financial market conditions. However, the sector’s growth is expected to be affected by challenges arising from rapid technological innovations and new regulations.

In response to global regulatory developments, the country has launched a host of new regulations over the past few years, including the introduction of anti-money laundering law in 2014 and its amendment in 2016, the central bank’s new capital rules in 2017 with transitional implementation until 2019, as well as an independent macroeconomic stress test for banks and an independent assessment of their AML and sanctions compliance, among others.