“The ABBL has fulfilled its role as a platform between banks and the Ministry of Finance, for the implementation of the state-guaranteed loan programme for companies affected by the pandemic”, says association CEO Yves Maas. He explained more in this interview.
What is the ABBL?
The ABBL is the largest professional association in the financial sector. It represents the majority of financial institutions, as well as regulated financial intermediaries and other professionals established in Luxembourg, including lawyers, consultants and auditors. Reflecting the diversity of the Luxembourg financial centre, the ABBL federates and promotes the interests of its members, and acts as the voice of the entire sector at national and international level. The ABBL provides its members with the resources and services they need to operate in the highly dynamic international financial markets and in an increasingly complex regulatory environment. Thus, ABBL members have at their disposal a long-established and influential association which works in their interests and represents them at the highest levels, both in Luxembourg and in Europe. Almost 40 employees work to support the membership by working on the questions which will have the greatest impact on their activities.
The last few months have demonstrated the unparalleled adaptability of the banking sector in Luxembourg.
How is the ABBL supporting its members during the health crisis?
The COVID-19 crisis has serious consequences for our country’s economy. At the ABBL, we and our members have committed ourselves to ensuring continuity of activity, as well as preserving the Luxembourg financial sector’s reputation for stability. This commitment has manifested itself in firm action from the onset of the pandemic. The ABBL has thus played its role as a platform between banks and the Ministry of Finance, as we worked together to implement the state-guaranteed loan programme for businesses affected by the pandemic. We have also brought together the six banks which have the greatest responsibility for providing funding to Luxembourg businesses, regarding questions such as moratoria for existing loans to professional clients. As regulatory moves are of primary importance to our members, the ABBL regularly informs its members about the legal implications at various levels of the crisis. We do this in collaboration with other players in the market. For example, we created guidelines for our members to support them when reorganising their activities to ensure continuity, and supported the extension of agreements related to taxation of cross-border workers.
What challenges and opportunities do you foresee for the banking sector in Luxembourg over the next five years?
The last few months have demonstrated the unparalleled adaptability of the banking sector in Luxembourg. Short-term measures must now give way to profound long-term adaptations to new ways of working and consuming if we are to ensure growth for future generations. In this context, our experts are committing, at both local and European level, their knowledge and experience to advancing the issues of prime importance to members, as these will have the greatest impact over the coming years. At the ABBL, we see two major trends that will shape the future of the banking sector and guide projects for the next five years: the digitalisation of financial services, and sustainable finance. For several years now, banks have been observing increased digitalisation of their customers’ behaviour, and this movement has accelerated with COVID. Customers are increasingly demanding online access to their bank accounts, which means fewer cash withdrawals and fewer visits to bank branches. This will enable banks to focus their efforts on serving their customers more proactively, while shaping new delivery models for banking services and products. As far as sustainable finance is concerned, we are witnessing real growth of collective awareness on the part of both banks and their customers. Customers are demanding more responsible financial products, and the high level of customer savings offers an opportunity for banks to provide sustainable investments. Finally, thanks to the country’s stability and the close link with products from the investment fund sector, private banking is benefiting from strong growth and numerous opportunities. Starting with Brexit, which has confirmed the attractiveness of Luxembourg as a financial centre, several institutions have chosen our country as an anchor in Europe to ensure the continuity of their services within the single market.