Past Program


The geopolitical landscape and the global economy are going through tectonic shifts with the pace of global growth becoming less vigorous and balanced. What are the new risks and opportunities? What impact will these changes have on a global financial system that is already being transformed by technology and digitalization? How can policymakers and financial institutions best respond?

The Salzburg Global Finance Forum tackles issues critical to financial markets, their participants and global economic growth and stability. The Forum facilitates candid, in-depth analysis of strategic challenges and emerging risks by senior and rising leaders from financial services firms, supervisory and regulatory authorities, public policy leaders and professional service providers. The 2019 program focused on key long-term trends and scenarios for financial services.

With the changes in US trade policy and the disruption caused by a post-Brexit UK and Europe, Asia’s increasingly supportive stance toward open trade and financial flows and China’s announced expansion of its financial market opening have the potential to shift the center of gravity and alter the nature of the financial services industry over the course of the next decade. At the same time, global growth is slowing, markets are fragmenting, and politics are front and center. What are the major risks we need to understand and manage as they relate to economic growth and opportunity? What are the prospects for new and sustainable growth in the future?

Sustainable finance is key to ensuring the long-term competitiveness of the global economy. Capital markets and the financial sector have a central role to play in reorienting and scaling up capital flows towards sustainable investments as well as in the management of financial risks stemming from climate change, environmental degradation, and social issues. Official sector and private-led initiatives (the European Commission’s Action Plan for Financing Sustainable Growth, and the FSB Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures, among others) have accelerated the awareness of climate-related financial risks and the importance of scaling up green financing. Now financial institutions together with investors, public authorities, civil society, and other stakeholders need to advance appropriate coordination between legislative and market initiatives to change the current short-term behavior of financial markets into a long-term perspective that includes environmental and social considerations, consistent with the interests of investors.

In addition to these megatrends, the continuing advancement of technology and digitalization of assets are changing access, speed, and participation in markets. The digital ecosystem is evolving with many unanswered questions with regard to the privacy landscape and data ownership. Regulations are proliferating in this space, with multiple industries affected. Regulators and supervisors have to monitor external risks and tipping points ever more closely while optimizing technologies and data analytics to keep in step with fast-moving markets. Cybersecurity will continue to be an important prerequisite for maintaining trust and stability among market participants, particularly given the potential for system-wide disruption caused by a cyber-attack.

The rapid pace of innovation poses challenges to a regulatory framework that is national and is defined by legal entities rather than activities. In addition, a growing number of actors are not subject to traditional banking regulation. This raises questions about how effectively to conduct regulatory and supervisory activities. This challenge is becoming more acute as regulatory approaches to financial innovation diverge in the US, Europe, and Asia. Is this divergence potentially jeopardizing a concerted global response to any future financial crisis or is it a source of competitive advantage to be welcomed? Are the policies in this space consistent with other public policy objectives (e.g., regarding privacy or systemic risk)?


Forum participants addressed a set of critical questions, including:

Geopolitical Shifts and Drivers of Global Change

  • What are the opportunities and challenges of the changing economic and financial landscape, particularly with regard to China’s growing influence and market dynamics? What are the risks to growth? What are the distributional effects, i.e., who are the winners and losers? How is technology impacting China’s ability to compete across the globe?
  • What is the impact of Brexit on financial markets and the Capital Market Union Project?
  • Will the current slowdown be worsened by trade wars and protectionism?

Long-Term Investments and Sustainable Finance

  • What are the impacts on sustained and inclusive growth of technological transformation/disruption?
  • How can the financial industry work together with investors and other stakeholders to create an effective and efficient sustainable finance ecosystem and facilitate long-term investment?

Technology, Digitalization and Regulation

  • Is the hyper-connectivity of the digital era a force for good? How do we harness new technologies to help build an inclusive, transparent and accountable digital economy without accelerating inequality, polarization, and mistrust?
  • Do financial institutions and their regulators have the right skillsets and are they focusing on the right things?
  • How can we create a regulatory framework that takes into account changes to market structure, such as access, new players, level of competition, etc.? Do regulators have the appropriate mandate/ authority in this new digitized world? Can regulation evolve enough to allow for widespread use of tools like machine learning and AI?
  • Is there an adequate framework in place to evaluate the cumulative impact of market changes on financial stability? What might cause the next financial crisis? Do we have enough foresight to coordinate prevention and response?

International Governance

  • What international governance is needed for the new technology era? What is the future of global financial institutions responsible for regulatory and policy matters? Are they still fit for purpose in this new world? Is Asia adequately represented on these policy bodies and if not, will it go its own way fragmenting the global concord?


The Salzburg Global Finance Forum brings together senior leaders and rising specialists as a community of peers.

Participants included senior and rising leaders from financial services firms (including commercial and investment banks, asset managers, private equity and pension funds, and fintech companies), supervisory and regulatory authorities, public policy leaders and professional service providers (including law firms and consultancies).


The intensive two-day session included panel-led discussions, in-depth working groups, and an Oxford-style evening debate.

This highly-interactive session takes place in a retreat-like setting of Schloss Leopoldskron, which facilitates trust, networking, and in-depth conversations. Small group discussions allow intense explorations of specific aspects of the general themes before returning to the plenary to refine conclusions. 

An executive summary report will be published within two weeks of the program.