BRUSSELS, 23 October 2015 – More than 60 journalists, EU policy-makers and banking policy experts took part today in a special World Savings Day kick-off celebration in Brussels hosted by the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI). Held at the Press Club Brussels Europe, the event gave attendees a chance to learn about the importance of savings as well as the roots of savings and retail banks and how they convert savings into investment for small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) – the backbone of the real economy.
The event opened with welcoming remarks by WSBI Managing Director Chris De Noose, who said: "The day puts front and centre the stabilising role played by savings and retail banking in an increasingly complex, competitive financial landscape. It evokes the ethos of local banks: responsible partners in communities, close to the customer, serving households, local authorities and SMEs."
World Savings Day Art Exhibition in Brussels
Mr. De Noose joined Sabasaba Moshingi (above), Chief Executive Officer, Tanzania Postal Bank to unveil a collection of historical images used throughout the world to promote the annual fête by WSBI members. The 20 framed pictures are scheduled to remain on public display at the press club for the next four weeks. Following the unveiling, Mr Moshingi spoke on how savings banks can harness the digital wave to bring more people into the financial mainstream.
EU Capital Markets Union debate
The event was capped off with a policy debate on the recently proposed EU Capital Markets Union, moderated by Wall Street Journal Brussels Editor Stephen Fidler (second from right). Panelists included: Georg Huber (second from left), Head of EU Representation, DSGV – the German Savings Banks Association; Gerhard Huemer (far right), of small business group UEAPME; and Nicolas Veron (not pictured), think tank Bruegel. Prior to the panel, Niall Bohan (far left), head of the European Commission CMU unit, provided an address on the proposed legislation.
World Savings Day: A rich history with global reach
World Savings Day has been celebrated for more than 90 years by WSBI and its members. Member banks taking part include Germany, Austria, Italy, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Brazil. It promotes with the public through various activities the virtue of saving money.
Why saving is important
Savings are important on many levels. First, savings are important for households. People save to create a nest egg, a rainy day fund – a way to financially "smooth out" some of the uncertainty in an often uncertain world. On a macro-economic level, savings are source of funding for banks in the form of deposits. Those deposits then get converted into loans for SMEs, for example, when they look to expand or retool.
Low interest rates: chipping away at savings
Savers today face a low interest rate environment, which chip away at financial asset values, most of which are held by households in the form of bank deposits and government securities. Low-interest rates also drag down deposits levels – a core source of funding by many WSBI members – by swaying people to save less.
Going further: WSBI Washington Declaration, MoU with World Bank Group
WSBI also presented for the first time in Brussels its Washington Declaration, which states the need for WSBI members to address the biggest challenge facing them: digitalisation. It also shared a recently signed Memorandum of Understanding with the World Bank Group to together forge a deeper commitment towards strategic goal of Universal Financial Access (UFA) by 2020 via a strategic partnership between the groups.
De Noose concluded: "For more than 200 years, savings and retail banks have nurtured a trust with people. Close to the customer, we form a bond that is solid and trusted. The "New Normal" created by digitalisation is the next opportunity to bring more people into the financial mainstream."
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For more information about World Savings Day, visit the WSBI website at www.wsbi-esbg.org
About WSBI – The Global Voice of Savings and Retail Banking
WSBI represents the interests of 6,000 savings and retail banks globally, with total assets of $14tn and serving one billion customers in nearly 80 countries (as of 2014). WSBI focuses on international regulatory issues that affect the savings and retail banking industry. It supports the aims of the G20 in achieving sustainable, inclusive, and balanced growth, and job creation, whether in industrialised or less developed countries. WSBI favours an inclusive form of globalization that is just and fair, supporting international efforts to advance financial access and financial usage for everyone.