Published November 9, 2021
It’s been a tough few years for business. And while numerous challenges remain, the opportunities the new world presents mean there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future.
That’s the message from the presenters at the virtual 2021 ANZ Finance & Treasury Forum.
Mark Whelan, Group Executive Institutional, ANZ, told the event the challenges of the short-term would be less about survival, and more about opportunities for growth.
“The global economic recovery has been surprisingly strong,” he said. “[It’s] the most robust post-recession recovery in 80 years. We feel there is cause for optimism.”
The experts at the event uncovered three key themes expected to dominate the outlook for business – ongoing geopolitical tensions, continuing digital transformation and the accelerating push for net-zero emissions.
Ian Bremmer, Founder and President, Eurasia Group and GZERO Media, told the conference the biggest immediate geopolitical issue was the world’s “inability to respond to collective challenges in our global future”.
“The only effective response is coordinated global activity from governments and from private sector technology actors,” he said. “But right now, they don’t trust each other, they don’t engage,” he said.
Tammy Medard, MD Institutional Australia, at ANZ said the rate of digitisation over the past two years meant “the need for speed and agility has become more important than ever” for business.
Dom Price, Work Futurist at Atlassian, said the key to successful digitisation was people.
“I think we have an amazing opportunity to make work more human,” he said.
Katharine Tapley, Head of Sustainable Finance at ANZ, said the pandemic had highlighted the importance of sustainability in business, with “climate change, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity being among the most critical issues we face today”.
“While the challenges are… immense and cannot be underestimated, it does bring huge opportunity for governments and for the private sector,” she said.
Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance said the momentum among business for addressing climate issues was “finally gathering pace”.
“Existential risk of climate change is becoming, in my judgement, the greatest commercial opportunity of our time,” he said.
As the world moves into a stage many are calling the “great reopening”, former Australian Prime Minister the Hon. Julia Gillard AC said the disruption of COVID-19 could lead to great things.
“Experts do tell us that alongside the phenomenon of post-traumatic stress, there is a thing called post-traumatic growth,” she said. “Because big disruptions cause people to reevaluate their lives in a way that wouldn’t happen if everything had just continued as business as usual.”
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