Mon 2 Oct 2017
News - Why missions abroad are a must-seize opportunity by Michael Schweiger
Why missions abroad are a must-seize opportunity

As I am about to set off on a House of Training mission abroad – this time to Kiev – I'm reminded of my very first mission, in Baku, Azerbaijan. The experience was rewarding on all fronts and I encourage anyone who is a professional in the financial services sector working internationally to seize a similar opportunity.

As professionals in the financial and commercial sector in Luxembourg, we are confronted with increasing demands on our time and resources in a complex environment. How many breakfast seminars have you attended in the past year where the focus of discussion was the so-called “tsunami of regulation” we're facing? Against such a rapidly evolving, high stakes backdrop, occasionally we forget how innovative we are and how much success our businesses and societies enjoy. My trip to Baku helped me to put this into perspective and re-focus on what really matters.

I was warmly welcomed by my hosts, the Financial Markets Supervisory Authority (FSMA), to provide corporate governance training to directors and executives. My mission also included sharing best practices in corporate governance for financial institutions with FSMA officers. The FSMA had only been formed within the past several months and all parties were keen to understand how corporate governance could be applied in Azerbaijan – not only for the purposes of regulatory compliance but also to understand how it might benefit the economy and the people of Azerbaijan.

Over the three-day session I learned a great deal from my hosts about Azerbaijan’s history (it gained independence in 1991), its dependence on oil as a major source of income, as well as the presence of numerous large state and family-owned corporations. We shared our experiences both inside and outside of the boardroom and exchanged on areas which have seen improvement as well as those where we have room to grow. While I certainly hope this was valuable for the participants, I can absolutely say it was also of great help to me. I have been involved in organising ILA’s annual Forum for Directors of Credit Institutions over the past five years and also serve as a member of ILA’s Banking Commission. The views and approaches I learned in Azerbaijan have helped to enrich the exchanges we have about corporate governance in Luxembourg.

On a personal note, I highly recommend adding a day on to your stay after the mission is completed. Part of the fun of any mission abroad is to learn about the local culture and interact with the hosts. If you are lucky, the individuals you meet will share their traditions and must-see recommendations. I am truly thankful to all of the wonderful people I have met on my missions, as well as to House of Training and ILA for facilitating the experience.

Michael Schweiger is based in Luxembourg and is a member of ILA’s Banking Commission. He speaks regularly on the topic of corporate governance internationally. Michael leads the legal department of Royal Bank of Canada within Continental Europe and the Channel Islands and is a member of the Executive Committee of RBC’s subsidiary bank in Luxembourg.