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Strong financial foundations drive innovation in Qatar

Article - March 9, 2015

Michael Ryan brings to the QFC Regulatory Authority his rich expertise, having served in a number of senior management positions at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse Financial Products, as well as serving on the Irish Prime Minister’s advisory committee on financial services. Here, he offers his insight on how Qatar’s well-regulated financial sector has helped buoy the economy

MICHAEL RYAN, CEO OF THE QATAR FINANCIAL CENTRE REGULATORY AUTHORITY (QFCRA)

A strong and resilient financial system is the foundation of every economy that delivers sustainable growth and promotes a successful drive for increased economic diversification. It is the essential mechanism that delivers the financing that companies and consumers require, allocates capital to entrepreneurs, and drives innovation. The critical role that the financial system plays was underscored by the global financial crisis, which reminded us again of the significant negative effects that flow to the general economy from crisis in the financial system.  A disruption in the financial system affects not just future growth prospects for an economy but also erodes the existing wealth of companies, investors and consumers.

For orderly and sustainable economic growth, the financial system must function effectively and financial regulation plays a crucial role in making sure that is the case. Qatar has been a global leader in growth over the last decade and, while the global financial crisis had only a minor impact, Qatar has remained focused on the necessary elements to ensure that the financial services sector continues to serve the economy well. To this end, Qatar is committed to maintaining a regulatory environment that secures and supports the vital role of financial services in the economy.  

Meeting the challenges of exceptional growth demands vision and focus, and that has been a particular strength for Qatar’s financial regulators. The Qatar Central Bank (“QCB”), the Qatar Financial Markets Authority and the QFC Regulatory Authority were brought together in 2013 under the new QCB Law and that connectivity among the regulators led to the publication of the unified strategy for financial section regulation that same year. Underpinning the strategy is a commitment shared among the three regulatory authorities to advance a regulatory framework that will be an international benchmark and a platform to ensure that Qatar’s financial services sector contributes significantly to realising Qatar’s full growth potential.   

The strategy focuses on important shared goals among the regulatory authorities and it is supported by specific objectives in the lead up to 2016.These goals focus on ensuring that the supervision of financial services firms is effective, efficient and in line with best international practice; the development of a macro-prudential approach to regulation to support firm-based supervision; the broadening and deepening of the financial services infrastructure to meet future growth opportunities; delivering consumer and investor protection that promotes confidence in Qatar’s financial system; and capacity building both within the regulatory authorities and, more broadly, within the financial services sector in order to position the financial services sector to meet the goals of the 2030 National Vision. Importantly, the new QCB law and the unified strategy have also created a significant level of co-operation among the three regulatory authorities and a platform for greater consistency in regulatory policy.

The last two years have seen significant successes delivered under the unified strategy and, with that, the establishment of a robust platform that will move Qatar forward in its ambition under the 2030 National Vision.

By Michael Ryan, CEO of the QFCRA

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