Every year, CFA societies around the world host forecast dinners, inviting experts and professionals to share their thoughts on important issues in the finance and investment industry. Keeping up with this global trend, CFA Association Russia held its fifth annual Forecast Dinner on April 19 at the stylish Tchaikovsky restaurant in central Moscow.
While enjoying delicious food and fine wine, around 100 guests shared an evening of cheer and great discussions centered on important issues in the world of economy and finance. Everyone understands that in the current economic situation, it is crucial for financial professionals (and others alike) to forecast future events to be able to make effective and educated decisions.
This year, CFA Russia invited seven guest speakers to its Forecast Dinner:
- Gary Baker, CFA Institute’s managing director in the EMEA Region
- Alexey Savatyugin, the chairman of the QIWI Bank’s board of directors and former deputy finance minister of Russia
- Dominique Fache, a French economist and former director of Enel in Russia
- Andrey Movchan, the director of the Economic Policy Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center
- Charles Gave, a co-founder of Cursitor-Eaton Asset Management and president of the French think tank Institut Des Libertes
- Ksenia Gorbunova, the director of the HR consulting company SQ-Team
- Evgeny Nadorshin, a chief economist of the independent investment management firm PF Capital
Neil Withers, CFA, the president of CFA Russia, was a moderator during the event, keeping an audience engaged throughout the evening. Vladimir Tutkevich, the executive director of CFA Russia, started the evening by welcoming everyone and highlighting the importance of the event.
Neil Withers, CFA, President of CFA Russia, moderated the evening
Interestingly, the predictions of the invited experts broadly divided into two categories – those who were optimistic about the future and others who warned about tough times ahead. Gary Baker, CFA, for example, had a positive outlook on the future economic situation, arguing that countries, including Russia, ought to change together with the rapidly changing world. In this day and age, when technologies and innovations are constantly changing the old system, everyone should learn how to adapt, said Baker.
Alexey Savatyugin, who in the past served as a deputy finance minister of Russia, focused on the Russian Central Bank and its policies. In his opinion, existing policies are ineffective and hurt the economy.
“We’re seeing the increase of governmental paternalism… The Central Bank has a monopoly on all financial decisions. There’s no discussion and it has been the trend for the past three years,” Savatyugin said.
The Russian economy is mostly concentrated around the government and several large enterprises. The former deputy finance minister added that in pursuit of stability the government ignores the development of small and mid-size businesses that in his opinion should be the main driving force of the economy. As a result, businesses are shrinking, causing stagnation, the speaker said.
Being a former director of Enel in Russia, French economist Dominique Fache talked about what he knows best – the role of the energy sector and its influence on geopolitics.
“Everything what’s happening in the world right now is connected to the issue of energy,” Fache said.
Being a resource-rich country, Russia should take into account current trends developing in the energy sector, including the use of solar energy that some nations have already started to test. Considering possible environmental risks present when extracting fossil fuels, the use of alternative sources of energy may become an important part of the future global economy, the French energy expert said.
Andrey Movchan took the floor next and he also focused on the oil business. The expert from the Moscow Carnegie Center had a gloomy prediction for the Russian economy and blamed the so-called “resource curse” from which the country is currently suffering. Movchan argued that Russia due to an abundance of oil has less economic growth and worse economic development than other countries with fewer natural resources.
“Oil is killing not only birds landing on spills, but entire industries,” Movchan said, pointing out that because of the excessive dependence on oil, the Russian economy failed to diversify and develop other sectors of the economy. When global oil prices plunged a couple of years ago, the Russian economy staggered.
Although in terms of military power Russia compares itself to the United States, when it comes to the economy Moscow should look closer at countries like Mexico. “There is a lot we [Russia] can learn from Mexicans, especially in terms of the economic diversification,” said Movchan.
The next speaker, Charles Gave, chose to speak about current changes in global political and economic affairs. The French economist predicted that the global economy is entering a new reality with a number of uncertain risks: the European Union had Brexit and is facing the rise of Euroscepticism across the continent; the election of Donald Trump is likely to change the global political arena; and China’s development of the Silk Road Economic Belt will transform the economic landscape in Asia.
“In such an environment, it is important to remember what risk truly is: not volatility, but a permanent loss of capital,” one of Charles Gave’s working slides showed.
Ksenia Gorbunova from the HR consulting company SQ-Team spoke about a new analysis of Moscow’s labor market in the finance industry. Her analysis was based on a recent survey conducted by CFA Association Russia together with SQ-Team.
The SQ-Team head showed some interesting facts and figures, preferring to stick with the hard numbers her company discovered in the survey. For example, the survey analysis revealed that 25 percent of those who participated said they are definitely looking to change a place of employment in 2017; 31 percent said they’d consider changing jobs if interesting vacancies will come up. The numbers reveal that almost 60 percent of all financial professionals who participated in the survey might be job hopping this year.
Evgeny Nadorshin, a chief economist of PF Capital, capped off the evening with his predictions for the Russian economy. Although before his presentation Nadorshin jokingly promised to stay optimistic, his forecast was very conservative, to say the least.
A recession within certain sectors of the Russian economy, including the retail and service industries, has slowed down and some were quick to claim that the crisis was over. Nadorshin, however, said the current economic crisis is far from an end. According to the economist’s calculations, in an optimistic scenario Russia’s GDP would increase by 1 percent in 2017, but most likely there won’t be any growth at all.
Interestingly, Nadorshin pointed out that if Russian businesses kept all of their earned money in the country, then the Russian economy wouldn’t have been affected by external factors, including low oil prices and sanctions.
“If the outflow of Russian capital didn’t happen, we’d be easily growing by 3 percent right now, regardless of anything,” the economist said.
Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed during CFA Russia Forecast Dinner are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the position of CFA Association Russia.