IMF and BIS—Working Together to Boost Financial Stability

February 8, 2018

I. Introduction & Theme

Thank you, Agustin, for the kind introduction, and thank you to the BIS for co-hosting this important event.

Our discussions today will focus on how to further strengthen the expertise of our member countries in financial sector supervision and regulation.

This is an area where both of our institutions have extensive experience—from providing hands-on assistance and training, to sharing valuable knowledge across countries.

This is what we mean by “capacity development.”

It is a major part of how the IMF and the BIS are promoting financial stability, which underpins durable and inclusive growth.

We have been deeply committed to capacity development because, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, “ an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

As you know, in addition to being a statesman, author, and diplomat, Benjamin Franklin was a scientist and inventor—focusing relentlessly on applying practical knowledge to improve the wellbeing of people.

He shared this passion with his friend Voltaire who once said: “ Aucun problème ne peut resister à l’assaut de la pensée soutenue,” “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.”

Sustained thinking and applying practical knowledge—these are some of the key things that you, the practitioners and experts, do every day.

The reality is that, ten years after global financial crisis, your work on financial sector supervision and regulation is more important than ever. This work is not only about preventing the next crisis.

It is also about fostering healthier financial systems that can channel investment into the most promising ventures—the start-ups, the firms looking to expand, the high-quality infrastructure projects—that can boost productivity, incomes, and jobs.

History matters

We have been doing this for some time.

At the IMF, it all started in the 1960s, when we first provided technical assistance to central banks. At the BIS, of course, this particular work has an even longer history.

Today, capacity development accounts for more than a quarter of the IMF’s total budget—about $267 million in 2017.

With this substantial commitment, we can help our 189 member countries strengthen their economic institutions and policies.

II. Capacity Development—People-focused

While numbers tell part of the story, our capacity development work is not just about facts and figures.

This is about people—about meaningful human interactions—from coaching teams, to gaining insights and skills, to sharing knowledge with partners around the world.

That is why I would like to share with you some of the experiences of our so-called “long-term experts.”

They are representative of the incredible commitment and energy that drives our capacity development—and their stories illustrate how capacity development works in practice.

a) Meet Carmencita Santos

Here I would like to recognize the work of Carmencita Santos.

Over the past 23 years, Carmencita has been working closely with bank supervisors, financial regulators, parliamentarians, and central bankers—building expertise, learning from her clients, and spreading best practices across countries.

How did she get there?

Carmencita started her career at the Central Bank of the Philippines, where she rose through the ranks—from bank examiner to senior executive.

Then she decided to take a risk. After leaving her central bank position, she began a series of one-year and two-year assignments with the IMF—delivering expert-level training on financial sector supervision and regulation.

This work involved being on the ground, working face-to-face with clients, and—over the years—moving from Guyana to Lesotho, to Tanzania, to Rwanda, to Ghana, and most recently to Myanmar. What a journey!

During her professional tours, Carmencita developed what we call the “working team approach.” It means that clients absorb fresh knowledge so well, that they themselves can quickly start teaching it to their fellow teammates.

This method can facilitate the transfer of deep expertise and encourages the building up of institutional knowledge.

b) Meet Leonard Chumo

Let me also introduce you to Leonard Chumo, who will participate in one of our panel discussions this afternoon.

Leonard started out as a financial accountant and analyst in his native Kenya. He then worked as a banking supervisor at the Bermuda Monetary Authority and the Central Bank of Ireland. He also served as a mission chief for the European Central Bank.

Now he is using his expertise as an IMF long-term expert based in Nigeria, where he works closely with the banking supervision experts of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

For example, he is supporting the implementation of the so-called “Pillar 2” of the Basel framework. He is coaching teams on how to assess bank capital levels.

He is also providing training on stress-testing methods, while developing training materials that are tailored to the specific circumstances of Nigeria’s financial sector.

This is the kind of work that our long-term experts do every day.

They are in many ways “the face of the Fund”—because they are teachers, ambassadors, and trusted advisers.

I think we all remember our favorite teachers—I certainly do. Why? Because our teachers open the doors to great intellectual adventures and because we trust them to point us in the right direction.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the outstanding contributions of all the members of our expert network.

Putting people at the center of the Fund’s work is good for our member countries and good for global financial stability.

This brings me to some of the other dimensions of our capacity development. These include what I would call “products” and “partnerships”

III. Capacity Development—Products and Partners

a) Products

The product dimension is about how we can share knowledge most effectively.

Our goal has always been to help our members build capacity in a range of areas—from fiscal, to monetary, to statistical, to financial. Let me give you two financial sector examples:

  • In Cambodia, the IMF worked with the government to create key central bank functions after the country’s civil war. These multi-year efforts on banking regulation and supervision paved the way for commercial bank lending that has supported growth and employment.

  • In Jamaica, the Fund has recently supported the country’s Financial Services Commission in strengthening supervision of insurance and securities firms. By identifying—and addressing—risks in this area, Jamaica can make its financial system more stable and more supportive of economic growth.

When we engage on these and many other cases, we can draw on our global perspective, our wealth of experiences, to provide high-quality advice and training.

These examples also show that there is no one-size-fits-all. Our goal is to help members meet the needs they have identified. This can be seen in how we help our members adapt the global regulatory reforms to their specific circumstances.

And our work continues to evolve.

One of our key objectives today is to help our members deal with the challenges and opportunities of fintech, including virtual currencies and new financial business models.

Yes, we all need to be extremely vigilant about the risks of financial innovation—think of the heightened risk of money laundering and the broader financial stability concerns.

But the long-term potential of virtual currencies and their underlying technologies need to be taken seriously—especially when it comes to regulations.

Of course, in this new environment, cybersecurity is more critical than ever.

I recently had the opportunity to participate in an IMF workshop on managing cyber risk—a key threat to financial stability. Our growing experiences in this area will allow us to improve our policy advice and capacity development.

And we will—as always—share our cutting-edge knowledge with our entire membership.

But we are not doing this alone, which brings me to the partnership dimension.

b) Partners

Last year, more than 40 member-countries provided funding for our capacity development efforts. These partners—led by Japan and the European Union—finance about half of our work in this critical area.

They are doing this in multiple ways—from sponsoring highly qualified experts, to financing specific technical assistance programs, to helping fund our global network of capacity-development centers.

Our partners also contribute to our “thematic funds” that support member priorities, including on financial stability and strengthening financial integrity.

Of course, partnership also means working with other organizations to provide the best possible support to our members.

Online courses are a great example—and one where we have an opportunity to further strengthen our collaboration with the BIS.

The Fund has made great progress in this area by helping train nearly 10,000 government officials [1] through free online courses.

At the same time, our members have long benefited from the incredible online training expertise of the BIS and its Financial Stability Institute. [2]

That is why we are now working together to create a new online course on banking supervision. [3] Some 200 government officials from 41 countries are expected to participate in this joint course later this year.

We know that we can often get the best results by combining well-designed online courses with face-to-face training and assistance.

This is one of many examples of how capacity development can help empower individuals and institutions—boosting financial stability and fostering durable and inclusive growth.


Let me conclude with an old proverb “ Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn.

By stepping up our capacity development efforts and by further deepening our collaboration with the BIS, we can involve our member countries in a powerful learning experience.

Let us be teachers, ambassadors, and trusted advisers.

Thank you.

[1] Since 2013, the Fund has trained more than 34,000 individuals, including nearly 10,000 government officials.

[2] For example, “FSI Connect” is an e-learning platform on banking and insurance supervision.

[3] New BIS-IMF course is a 40-hour training program, with 5 case studies and 5 interactive webinars.

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