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Blockchain and Brexit: what we took away from SFIG Vegas 2019

6 March 2019

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The evolving landscape of Capital Markets is certainly piquing the attention of industry professionals, if this year’s attendance at SFIG Vegas is any indication. With 10% more attendees than last year, the crowds at SFIG Vegas 2019 were abuzz with trending topics. From uncertainty and excitement of the future, to enthusiasm over technical advancements, here are our three takeaways from the conference.

The CLO industry agrees: disruptive technology is here.

Recently we surveyed over 500 Capital Markets executives on the impact of disruptive technology and were pleased our survey findings echoed the conversations had around SFIG Vegas. 51% of those surveyed believe that AI is already being utilised within their industry, and this trend was certainly reflected in the discussions on the exhibitor floor. Primarily, we saw a shift towards transformation in automating back office functions such as structured finance, securitisation and alternative finance. Blockchain’s place in the conversation never ceased. Again, our survey results rang true: almost three-quarters of industry professionals believe blockchain will play a greater part in the industry. This is driven by the need for transparency, speed in transaction processing, and tighter regulation around privacy.

New legislation getting the green light?

All things “green” are trending, and talk of sustainable legislation in the securitisation industry is no exception. In fact, while we were at the conference, a number of new green rules were in development. For instance, The European Parliament and Member States released two new categories of benchmarks to better guide investors in terms of what’s sustainable in accordance with the Paris Agreement goals. The Spanish treasury is also shifting views on green bonds, following suit with developments in France, Belgium and Ireland. Not only are large Spanish banks closing deals to finance sustainable products, they’re utilising blockchain technology to negotiate the terms. Conference panels discussed Property Assessed Clean Energy and impacts, and even conversations and panels seemingly unrelated to sustainable business decisions took a turn to discuss environmental impacts.

And of course, Brexit.

With the largest Capital Markets crowd all in one place, and a larger contingent of UK Issuers at the conference than in year’s past, the UK’s scheduled exit from the EU, in less than a month, was an irresistible conversation. With little understanding on how businesses will trade, conversations are fluttering around the uncertainty of impending changes. Currency fluctuations, post-Brexit compliance requirements, and direct and indirect taxation were front of mind. However, the larger than usual presence of UK Issuers perhaps indicates US investors may be less concerned about investing in the UK than originally expected. Whatever happens, we have a network of offices across the EU and Channel Islands who can help clients navigate the complexities of Brexit.

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