Integrity and high ethical standards to secure the future of finance

By Zeti Akhtar Aziz

Under Zeti Akhtar Aziz’s leadership, Bank Negara Malaysia has reinforced itself as an independent and respected regulatory authority, putting in place significant measures to ensure the stability of the country’s financial institutions.

As a policy maker from an emerging economy in Asia for more than three decades, it has been both exhilarating and rewarding. It has been a marathon that has been in many parts, on treacherous terrain. While it has been highly challenging, the experience has been tremendously fulfilling. It has been my privilege to be involved in managing the financial crisis 20 years ago in my country and in the post crisis period to engineer the advancement of the financial sector – to evolve a financial system that best serves the economy and in which financial stability is preserved. And more recently – to be called back again to serve the nation in Malaysia.

Three other high points in my life career have been to be part of the global agenda on the advancement of the responsible and inclusive forms of financial intermediation – that which gives focus to sustainability and that which accords importance to ethical values. This relates to advancement of responsible finance that accords attention to the impact of finance and to the longer-term orientation of the businesses and not just to the short-term gains. Equally important in these forms of finance are the values that are upheld – that are important for building the trust and confidence in the financial systems and for creating the foundations for a sustainable financial system.

The second area has been to be a part of the ASEAN and the greater Asian regional financial integration efforts. It has been my distinct privilege to have been engaged with the central banks in Asia to design our path for the regional financial integration and cooperation in Asia. The motivation and drive for this is to achieve a more efficient intermediation of funds mobilised in Asia for investment in Asia and to contribute to the relative stability and resilience of our financial systems.

And the third area is being involved in building the capability and state of readiness at the national and regional levels to effectively address future challenges imminent to our financial systems and economies. Many of these efforts entailed efforts to act cohesively and collaboratively to ensure the resilience of our financial systems and economies to thus achieve a more sustainable future. This involved raising the level of cooperation and collaboration in Asia including the strengthening of the regional framework for managing the crisis and building the institutional capability to be in a state of readiness to deal with future destabilising eventualities. Being open economies, Asia is not immune to global developments. It is all about recognising the implications of these developments and being well positioned to pre-emptively manage their associated risks.

Finally, the world of finance is continuously being transformed by recent developments in technology that has accelerated the pace of financialisation and the digitalisation of finance. These developments provide us with a platform to unlock great potential opportunities that can benefit every segment of society and the business community. But this will require having the internal capability that is also accompanied by and reinforced with integrity, governance and accountability, and high ethical standards being upheld by the industry. It also needs to be reinforced by the capability to manage its associated risks. It will be only then that our aspirations for a better future can be realised.

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Keywords: Financial Stability
Institution: Bank Negara Malaysia
Country: Malaysia
Region: Southeast Asia
People: Zeti Akhtar Aziz
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