The Arab Savings & Financial Literacy Conference is a regional professional platform that addresses financial literacy, financial education, financial inclusion, digital finance, and household savings across the Middle East & North African (MENA) countries.
Held in a different Arab capital every year, the primary purpose for this event is to create a vital debate and an information-sharing forum on the significance of financial literacy and long-term savings for household financial resilience. It is also aimed at increasing awareness on the need-to-save and the knowledge around savings products offered by the financial industry.
The event has attracted key players from regulators, regional banks, insurance companies, investment management firms, wealth managers, financial planners, investment advisers, Fintech firms, and financial economists.
Official Opening Remarks
- H.E. Mr. Hassan Abdalla, Governor, Central Bank of Egypt (to be confirmed)
- H.E. Dr. Mohamed Ahmed Maait, Minister of Finance, Egypt
- H.E. Dr. Nivine El-Kabbag, Minister of Social Solidarity, Egypt
- H.E. Dr. Mohamed Farid Saleh, Chairman, Financial Regulatory Authority, Egypt
The Imperative of Rolling out Financial Literacy
It’s increasingly proven that financial literacy is critical, yet a missing life skill in our 21st century lives. At the formal level, a socio-economic policy framework is needed to enhance financial literacy and society’s financial resilience. At the individual level, we need to help people build their future and be money smart, especially through times of hardship. We need to “reframe” life success through financial literacy.
Regulation or Education – the Case for Developing Financial Education
What should be the proper role of law among other factors involved in promoting consumers financial knowledge? Are people protected by regulatory measures, or by economic education and information. Another issue that merits discussion is whether to provide ex ante or ex post protection. Information obligations exist before, during and after concluding a financial contract. If a big part of people’s financial decisions and protection comes from financial education, how should we further develop financial education in our schools and beyond?
Individuals with a good basic knowledge of finance can make informed decisions as they engage in deals with financial institutions. Such knowledge also includes how to access regulators’ protection when needed.
Financial Consumer Protection – What Does it Take?
What does the framework for financial consumer protection in regional markets look like? How robust has it been? How is the shift towards greater consumer protection impacting financial firms in practice? How are firms fulfilling their protection duties and ensuring that customers are equipped to make informed choices? What is the role of the financial regulator (ombudsman) in protecting consumers, and what mechanisms are in place for that? How are consumers protected from emerging technologies such as Buy-Now Pay-Later, crypto currencies, digital banking, etc.?
Responsible Lending and Borrowing
Consumer’s trust in banks is an important dimension of his financial capability. The social responsibility of banks has been expressed in the concept of responsible lending and borrowing. Unethical lending takes place where the consumer does not have the capacity to repay without substantial hardship, or the creditor imposes excessive and unacceptably high costs or unfair contract terms. Consumer credit includes all activities that bring people into debt through commercial offers, irrespective of whether this is done in the form of loans, deferred payments, leasing, rent or any other legal form, and irrespective of whether payments are called interest or fees.
How are vulnerable borrowers protected from potentially abusive lenders. This session is also about managing one’s loans and debts.
Behavioural Economics & Financial Decisions
Financial literacy may be defined as the ability to make informed judgments and to take effective decisions regarding the use and management of money. It is a multi-dimensional concept, which requires both breadth and depth of knowledge. It’s about the individual’s financial knowledge and understanding, his financial skills and competence, and his financial responsibility. How complex can this be, and how behavioural economics play out in this context of personal and household finance?
Coffee & Open Networking
Household Risks, Insurance Knowledge and Financial Security
To what extent do individuals and families understand risks around their daily lives? If risk understanding and risk management are part of financial literacy and financial success, what are the basic concepts and minimum measures a household should take when it comes to insurance? How can risk management enhance households’ financial security?
Fintech for Personal Finance and Digital Economy
Fintech apps, whether for budgeting, payment, banking, investing or tracking daily spending, are starting to change people’s attitude towards managing their money. Clients are appreciating being able to keep tabs on their money in real time to initiate and complete transactions that would otherwise have involved a lot of hassle in the traditional face-to-face way.
They can send and receive money, transfer money between accounts and to other people, set savings goals, check how they are spending, and monitor their spending styles. The landscape will further diversify as new propositions become increasingly popular with customers demanding digital-first solutions. Digital challengers have been steadily taking customers away from incumbent institutions for a few years.
These digital tools offer a fresh approach to managing money. The question is how can we make a paradigm shift in accelerating the adoption of these tools across the Arab countries, especial among the informal sectors? What collaborations are required to accelerate that?
Opportunities for Financial Education in the Workplace
The importance of financial education in the workplace continues to grow as policy makers and stakeholders step up their attempts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their financial education and financial inclusion initiatives. Moreover, in the current context, working adults are constantly confronted with issues affecting their immediate and long-term financial resilience and well-being.
What opportunities does workplace offer for financial education? How should workplace financial education be designed? The session will cover understanding the audience, identifying appropriate delivery mechanisms, creating or finding appropriate content, incentivising participation, evaluating outcomes and learning from the experiences of other existing schemes. Panellists will also discuss their experiences and provide practical advice on what policy makers, HR leaders and financial education providers could do to improve the financial literacy of employees.
Inflation, Interest Rates, Risks & Returns – How Much Households Need to Understand When Investing?
What’re the local and global economies looking like today? How do individuals currently choose between stocks, bank deposits, retail bonds, REITs, life policies, mutual funds, ETFs and money market instruments? What are the characteristics of the ideal vehicles for household savings and investments? And how should those vehicles perform in terms of growth, safety and adequacy to their life journey?
Creating a Financial Plan that Works for You
How households can drive their finances and leverage a growth mindset to build their future success. What are the key principles of portfolio construction and management, including asset allocation, portfolio risk levels and governance, and how combining with factors you can control, such as reducing management costs, builds a more robust long-term financial plan?
Financial Empowerment for Women and Youths
Gender equality is a smart economy that contributes to reducing poverty and enhancing family’s financial flexibility of the fam. However, women in the Arab region as a whole contribute only 19% of the GDP, compared to a global average of 37%. The empowerment of women has an intrinsic value in itself, and effective development outcomes. Our countries have made great progress for women in education, health and jobs, but there are still challenges related to economic opportunities and women's financial and economic empowerment.
What are the main challenges to women’s economic empowerment, and what are the best practices and pioneering initiatives regionally and globally to incentivize women’s active participation in the national economy?
Similarly, how are young entrepreneurs in the region financially empowered to establish and support successful projects? How can they access finance and new markets? Are there enough financial institutions and funds to lend to young people so that they can start businesses? How are these loan products designed and marketed, how easy/difficult is access to financing, and what are the most successful experiences in this domain?
Microfinance, Social Banks and Financial Inclusion
Over the last two decades or so, there have been a few social banks and microfinance institutions in most Arab countries, e.g., (Al Khair Bank and Hope Fund in Bahrain), (Nasser Social Bank in Egypt), (Khalifa Fund and Rashid Fund in UAE), (social loans provided by Iraq’s Social Affairs Ministry), (Reyada Fund in Oman), (subsidies for youths’ startups in Morocco). These have been created to economically empower lower-income families and informal sector individuals to start or accelerate their small businesses. How well have these institutions and funds performed against their mandates, what success stories have emerged, and what more could they do? More importantly, how much households and the informal sectors understand about their workings and benefits?