WAIFC facilitates cooperation between financial centers, the exchange of best practices, and communication with the general public.
In July 2018, financial services leaders from around the globe assembled in Paris to announce a new strategic initiative: the World Alliance of International Financial Centers (WAIFC).
WAIFC is a non-profit association registered in Brussels, Belgium, which represents leading international financial centers and facilitates cooperation and the exchange of best practices.
WAIFC members are city governments, associations, and similar institutions developing and promoting their financial centers. Several new representatives - Amsterdam, Doha, Dubai, Hong Kong, Jersey, Kigali, Lagos, London, Malta, Mauritius, Milan/Rome, Stuttgart, and Tokyo - have joined since the alliance was formed in 2018 by founding members from Abu Dhabi, Brussels, Busan, Casablanca, Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Moscow*, Muscat, Nur-Sultan, Paris, and Toronto. Other financial centers have also indicated their interest in joining the association.
WAIFC is project-driven. The first projects covered a range of areas, including financial technology, green investment and infrastructure, the creation of a financial center database, funding for small and medium-sized enterprises, and, perhaps the most important, the role of financial centers in financing the economy.
* Membership suspended in March 2022
WAIFC promotes international financial centers on a global scale but does not perform lobbying.
WAIFC helps to share best practices and communicate jointly. WAIFC works closely together with knowledge partners, e.g., consulting firms, universities, and research institutes.
The main task for the WAIFC legal entity is the coordination of WAIFC's projects and initiatives. WAIFC is project-driven, and each project is sponsored by one or more financial centers. The value of WAIFC is in the success of those projects.
The Role of Financial Centers
Many countries worldwide are developing their financial industry around one or several financial centers. A financial center is a kind of service infrastructure to serve investors and corporate to manage savings and to finance entrepreneurial risk to trigger economic growth in a sustainable environment.
This service center is a mix of technical requirements (physical infrastructure, law, tax and regulatory framework, talent) and business conditions (the association of a critical mass of complementary business lines, e.g., retail and corporate banking, capital markets, asset and wealth management, insurance, consulting, tax and legal advice, infrastructure). All that creates an ecosystem, more or less specialized and of different sizes addressing local, regional, or global targets.
Financial centers have in common to bring to the users the best of needed financial services and access to funding.
Today, the financial industry all around the world is challenged on its value creation, risks, and contribution to growth: Lack of understanding and complexity of the chain of intermediation (services vs. products). It is also challenged by a heavy new regulatory framework, globalization, and new technologies that all combined change significantly its economic balance and business models.
Financial centers have a more holistic position in this game. And different drivers (fixed location, at the core of states or regions) have a specific role in contributing to face those challenges.
Purpose & Mission
At the global level, it is essential to have the planet surrounded by a network of financial centers propagating best financial practices and bringing financial functionalities and services as near as possible to the end-user in a context that respects cultural and operational diversity. This mission should work in a compatible framework of rules.
Those financial centers, part of the network, would not be identical in size or scope of activities. Nevertheless, some level of cross-fertilizations should be useful to leverage collective and individual efficiency. It is just, then, in this context that some level of competition will be exercised.
The WAIFC aims to organize this cross-fertilization process and to facilitate cooperation, exchange of best practices, and communication about how the financial industry in between the corporate and investor world contribute directly to growth conditions.