Three takeaways from the World Business Forum

With six of the top 10 trading nations forecast to be Asian by 2020, it seemed only natural the region's leaders came together at the World Business Forum in Hong Kong in June to discuss the issues shaping the economic and business environments.

I was lucky enough to attend an exclusive event with Ben Bernanke, former Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve, who discussed the current economic landscape and the future of the global economy.

" The ability for leaders to concentrate on big-ticket items and ignore the inherent noise will help move organisations forward, particularly when managing increasing disruption."
Andrew Géczy, CEO International and Institutional Banking, ANZ

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Photo: Ben Bernanke, former Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve and Andrew Géczy, CEO International and Institutional Banking, ANZ.

I also watched an interview with three-time Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone about his thoughts on leadership and ways to engage audiences and communicate complex information using storytelling.

For me there were three clear takeaways from the forum to help companies evolve during this period of radical change.


We all know leadership is one of the most-critical issues in business as we look to manage growth, disruption and societal expectations.

The speed of change is happening at a revolutionary pace driven by global integration, changing demographics, increasing pressure on the world's resources and technology, a complex web of factors today's leaders must consider.

I had the opportunity to ask Ben Bernanke about the biggest lessons he learnt while leading the Fed during a tumultuous period in world economic history. His response? "The lesson was to focus on one step at a time."

The ability for leaders to concentrate on big-ticket items and ignore the inherent noise will help move organisations forward, particularly when managing increasing disruption.

Oliver Stone also offered some good advice when he said “tell a good story and you will find an audience."

In addition to understanding world economic trends and how to manage those, leaders must sharpen their communication skills so their employees, shareholders, customers and government, fully understand and support the direction they choose to take.


The digitalisation of the world economy, indeed our society, is changing everything we do. In banking, the way our customers want to work with us is evolving and nowhere is this more evident than in Asia where there are 670 million digital-banking consumers, a number expected to increase to 1.7 billion by 2020.

Typical South-East Asian consumers are spending most of their time online engaging in social-media activities, signalling the need for organisations to consider its impact on the future of e-commerce and ways to reach customers.

The increase of free Wi-Fi, low-cost smart phones, battery life improvements, a growing middle-class and government agendas are further factors which will propel the use of digital in South-East Asia to unparalleled levels.

Businesses need to make every effort to examine these trends, the various customer profiles in existence and how they can service them via unique multi-channels while creating a seamless customer experience.


Despite a slowing GDP, China will remain a key driver of the world's economic growth for many years to come. The transformation of the Chinese economy from industrial juggernaut to modern, consumer-led services economy will be a major force for change in the world over the next decade.

Consumption accounts for less than 40 per cent of GDP in China. For most of the world's developed economies, the consumer is somewhere between 50 per cent and 70 per cent of the overall economy. While China's economy has emerged onto the world stage the Chinese consumer is only just awakening.

Critical to the ongoing Chinese economic transformation is reform. Reforms promoting consumption enhance the effective operation of markets in the economy.

As Bernanke told 60 Asian business leaders at the forum, "financial liberalisation is central to the next stage of China's development. You can't have a modern economy with diverse companies and industries without a good financial system to allocate capital to those areas".

Financial liberalisation will bring a complete overhaul of the way capital flows both in and out of China.

Oliver Stone was also hopeful on China, noting a world with a balance of power between major nation states is much healthier than the post-cold war unipolar world we have been living in for the past two decades.

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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