2019 Annual Conference Report

The Sheraton Grand Mirage on the sunny Gold Coast was the venue for the 36th Banking & Financial Services Law Association conference, held from 29 to 31 August 2019. Again our conference attracted more than 200 delegates.

Following a period of intense scrutiny for the banking and finance sector, the theme of the 2019 conference was “Banking in the Spotlight”. The full conference programme is available here.

Thursday 29 August 2019
Delegates were flying into the Gold Coast from around Australia and across the Tasman throughout Thursday. As evening approached, the opening welcome reception provided a great opportunity for delegates to catch up with friends and colleagues, and to make new connections.

Friday 30 August 2019
The first formal session of the conference threw us straight in at the deep end of conduct and culture issues. Sean Hughes – ASIC Commissioner and former Chief Executive of the Financial Markets Authority – gave a detailed articulation of ASIC’s “Why not litigate?” approach. He also discussed other topics related to ASIC’s enforcement strategy, including ASIC’s enforcement priorities and how ASIC plans to deploy the various regulatory tools it has available.

Friday afternoon was the time for our regular case law update, this year presented by Leeming JA (Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of New South Wales) and Venning J (Chief High Court Judge, New Zealand). Both judges selected interesting and topical cases for their presentations, which made for a very enlightening session.

Other sessions on Friday covered a number of thought-provoking topics, ranging from regulation of mortgage brokers to the impact of technology on trade finance (and everything in between). These were followed by our Annual General Meeting, and then the formal conference dinner.

Our marquee speaker for 2019, The Rt Hon Lord Sales (Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom), undertook the traditional task of making the after-dinner speech. Given the main theme of Lord Sales’ speech was his lack of ability as a comedian, there were certainly plenty of laughs throughout the room.

Formalities at the conference dinner also included the announcement that Rebecca Hope is picking up the reins as the BFSLA’s new president. Rebecca will be carrying forward the momentum generated by Bruce Whittaker during his two years in the role, which is an exciting prospect for all members.

Saturday 31 August 2019
The coffee machines whirred into action early on Saturday morning. First up, Lord Sales gave his keynote address on directors’ duties in the modern environment – looking at “the company” as more than the sum of its shareholders. This was an extremely topical session about an important and difficult issue, and so was of broad interest to delegates.

The Future Leaders Committee was pleased to host a lunch on Saturday, which was very well-attended. Delegates made the most of the opportunity to network with peers and build new relationships.

The day also included presentations on a range of other high-profile issues affecting the banking and finance industry. Of particular interest was the discussion on “Life after LIBOR”, led by Clare Dawson, Chief Executive of the Loan Market Association. With LIBOR underpinning an estimated $350 trillion of financial products, this presentation was highly relevant and gave a clear snapshot of the industry’s progress in tackling this challenging issue.

Thank you to our sponsors
We wish to thank the many sponsors of our 2019 conference for their invaluable support. We acknowledge in particular:

  • Sargon, as sponsor of the welcome reception drinks
  • Equity Trustees, as sponsor of the coffee carts.

BFSLA Conference 2020
We are delighted to confirm that our conference will be returning to Queenstown in 2020, running from 29 to 31 August. Conference planning will get underway shortly, and further details will follow in due course.