Opening the Middle East Investment Conference in Dubai, Nitin Mehta, CFA, managing director of CFA Institute, EMEA; Yacoub Nuseibeh, CFA, president, CFA Society Emirates; and Obaid Saif Al Zaabi, Research Adviser, Securities & Commodities Authority, all spoke of the challenges facing investment professionals in the Middle East and the need for change.
Nitin Mehta, CFA, called on investment industry participants to drive a positive change in finance. Mehta stated that trust in the financial system has been badly broken and that change can start with the industry leaders, financial professionals, regulators, government agencies, and academics at the conference in Dubai. In fact, he argued change must start with all of us and quoted Mahatma Gandhi to reinforce this point: “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” Mehta encouraged the audience to engage with the “Future of Finance” project — a long-term global effort that CFA Institute has just launched to shape a trustworthy, forward-thinking financial industry that better serves society. And he emphasized the importance of the Middle East region as a financial hub in the global investment industry.
The theme of rebuilding trust was continued by Yacoub Nuseibeh, CFA, who stated that change is never easy, especially after many years of stagnation; although we do not know what the future holds, we all have a responsibility to change the investment industry. He compared the position of investment professionals with a parental role, in which you cannot control your child’s future, but you can equip your child with the best tools. Nuseibeh stated that every industry participant has a role to play: regulators must enforce regulation, managers must nurture talent, business leaders must lead with ethical behavior, and financial analysts must be diligent.
The keynote speaker, Obaid Saif Al Zaabi, noted that the financial landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years and that the theme of the conference, “Investing in a Changing Arab World,” is particularly pertinent at this time. Al Zaabi stated that transparency, investor education, and good governance are essential ways to improve the investment industry in the region and emphasized that the global financial crisis has led to many regulatory initiatives. He also spoke of regulatory successes in the United Arab Emirates, including enhanced levels of knowledge and education and high levels of disclosure rates.
Conference participants were encouraged to focus on solutions and take away fresh ideas from the conference, where more than a dozen speakers are set to give us their ideas on the way forward for the investment industry.