10 years after the financial crisis – will the rise of new platforms save the global economy?


At the School of Business and PwC's Capital Markets Top Seminar, lessons from the last 10 years were re-capped before sights were set firmly to the future.

Janne Rajalahti on the left, Frederik Gregaard, Vesa Puttonen, Eeva Ahdekivi, Sixten Korkman and Sophie Hackford. On the right, Antti Oksanen, Head of Communications of Taxpayers Association of Finland (TAF), who led the seminar.

Does the global economy show any signs of recovery, 10 years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers? In this context, how should we deal with the impact of huge amounts of data managed by global platforms?

Amazon, Facebook, Google... Are these global platform giants already too influential or should we learn from their operating models? This is the question that Janne Rajalahti, partner at PwC, posed for the audience. Mr Rajalahti opened the seminar, and with his talk ‘The Rise of Platforms’ set the scene for the afternoon’s talks.

PwC had invited an interesting mix of speakers from the fields of science and business to the seminar. The talks at the seminar all touched on the theme from different angles, and common topics kept on surfacing: data; where and how is it used, the importance of understanding new technologies, industry regulation, and the contrast of having to accept and tolerate the inevitable uncertainty and uncontrollability of emerging technologies.

The effects of the global financial system are far reaching

During his talk, Professor Sixten Korkman from the Department of Economics, illustrated a ten-year time-frame, from the start of the financial crisis to the present day. According to Professor Korkman, the global financial system is a large and complex giant that has far-reaching implications. A worst-case example of this has been the undermining of public confidence, and the subsequent rise in populism, such as Brexit. When questioned on what his thoughts were on how to improve the financial system, Korkman suggested, among other things, finalising the EU banking union, whilst recognising that regulation also poses uncertainty. ‘Healthy growth can be compromised if there is too much regulation. There should be a balance between the two,’ Korkman said. 

Along with big public-sector operations, Eeva Ahdekivi, CEO of Hartwall Capital, wanted to include the views of small private investors in the conversation. She wanted to emphasise the strength in the versatility of different investment methods and stressed the importance of trust in financial investments. ‘We cannot compete with global giants and their operating models, but we can do things differently’, Ahdekivi said.

Managing large amounts of data is almost impossible

Sophie Hackford, futurist and CEO of 1715 Labs, who is investigating artificial intelligence, and Frederik Gregaard, who manages PwC's digital finance services, emphasised in their talks how managing large amounts of data is almost impossible. There are different types of data, the world is full of signals and sensors for collecting them, satellites are sent up for data generation, and algorithms and robots work with artificial intelligence. ‘The question is, what you want to know, who owns the data, and who can access it,’ Hackford said.

Information security and privacy matters will therefore inevitably become key issues and the question on regulation in this area is also topical. Regulation is a challenge, for example, in terms of privacy, because when it comes to excessive regulation, it also raises people's uncertainty about new technologies and their use. ‘Regulation is a challenge and we cannot sleep forever. We have to wake up to reality,’ Gregaard said.

Artificial intelligence vs. genuine human interaction. The old, traditional financial houses vs. the new fast-moving industry start-ups. A well-regulated and functional financial system vs. wild, freely available uncontrolled data.

At the end of the seminar, Professor Vesa Puttonen from the Department of Finance, summarised the event and described the theme of the seminar as a paradox. New technologies, data, and emerging service platforms will change the world as well as the financial sector. Innovations cannot and should not be blocked. On the other hand, Puttonen asked whether we should still do everything that technology enables? The government must set new limits on how innovations can be used and offered to consumers.

Capital Markets Top Seminar is an annual business event dedicated to the financial management of businesses and communities, and each year concentrates on the most relevant topics in the global economy. The seminar brings together experts in the field of finance, to consider what the future holds, and what the challenges are that companies are facing.