Hans-Walter Peters: strong Europe needs competitive banks
21st German Banking Congress in Berlin
“In a world in upheaval, Europe should focus on its strengths – both economically and politically. Only by sticking together can it negotiate these troubled times – despite and precisely because of Brexit and, above all, with the US and Asia in mind,” said Hans-Walter Peters, president of the Association of German Banks and spokesman for the managing partners of private bank Berenberg, at the 21st Banking Congress in Berlin.
“In a climate in which isolationism, renationalisation and protectionism are on the rise, we need to fly the flag for global free trade, pluralistic democracy and, not least, for a united Europe,” Mr Peters stressed. The private banks were willing to play their part in this.
To ensure innovation and growth, Europe needed strong, competitive banks. Banks’ earnings were not yet satisfactory everywhere, however – that was true for Germany as well. “It is, first of all, mainly up to banks themselves to act by creating new – including digital – business models, unlocking new income streams, but also by cutting costs further,” Mr Peters said.
But it was also important to address the burdens imposed externally. For example, the ultra-loose monetary policy pursued by the European Central Bank (ECB) was taking its toll on savers, businesses and banks. “Here, the ECB needs to start exiting its zero-interest-rate policy before the risks and unintended effects – also with regard to financial stability – get out of hand, Mr Peters added.
The sheer number and complexity of regulatory measures also placed a heavy burden on banks, particularly small ones. “Better regulation was and is the right response to the financial crisis. At the same time, regulation is only effective if it is harmonised internationally as far as possible,” Mr Peters underlined. But regulation should also be regularly judged by whether the effort involved produced the desired results. “There are a lot of legitimate doubts about this, so it is right to repeatedly review the regulatory measures,” Mr Peters said.
The 21st German Banking Congress – the Association of German Banks’ largest social event, attended by around 700 invited guests from the financial, political, media and business sectors – takes place in Berlin on 5 and 6 April 2017. Held every three years, it brings together leading political and business figures from Germany and abroad.
You can follow the Banking Congress live online at bankentag.de. The Association of German Banks will also be tweeting during the Banking Congress, using the hashtag “#bankentag”.
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