2021 Year in Review
2021 opened in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. National governments and financial regulators continued to focus on supporting the economy in the dark winter of a public health crisis. As we look back at the year that was 2021, here's what we observed:
Public health and economic recovery continued to be front and centre of attention throughout 2021. Reopening schedules and economic recovery in the Asia Pacific (AP) region have been shadowed by new variants of the COVID-19 virus. Due to differences in speed of vaccination, approaches to control the pandemic, and macroeconomic policies, divergence in economic recovery grew across the AP region. After over a year of expansionary macroeconomic policies and supply chain disruptions, inflation reached record high in many jurisdictions in the AP region, pushing up prices in sectors such as housing and food. In the second half of 2021, a few AP governments started to tighten policies and roll back support measures, and some others are expected to follow in 2022. Impacts of support roll back on the Financial Services (FS) sector will need to be closely monitored in 2022.
The FS sector continued to digitalise in an accelerated manner, reaching customers through online channels and operating with digital infrastructure. Risks we identified at the beginning of 2021, such as increasing cyber-attacks, online fraud and scams, have manifested over the course of the year. Adjustments to business continuity and control functions are needed to adapt to the new normal.
Sustainability kept its momentum throughout 2021. COP26 brought significant developments on the global-consistent sustainability reporting standards, carbon markets, in addition to new net zero commitments. FS firms in the AP region are getting ready to "go green".
What does the new normal mean for the FS sector in the AP region? When will the AP region recover from the pandemic? What opportunities does the sustainability agenda offer? We will explore these questions in more detail in the 2022 Asia Pacific Financial Services Regulatory Outlook.
2021 was a tough year, however we still have much hope and expectation. We achieved a lot in 2021, and will continue to achieve more in 2022.
Here's to health, resilience, and recovery.