Foreword to the BIS Annual Report 2018/19 by the BIS General Manager

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General Manager's foreword

It is my great pleasure to present the Annual Report 2018/19 of the Bank for International Settlements. The report looks back at a productive year in which we strove to provide excellent service to the central bank community and also launched a new strategy to shape the Bank for the future.

Ten years after the peak of the Great Financial Crisis, we are now in a good position to reassess how we are fulfilling our mission in the light of new challenges.

At the BIS, we provide support and value added to the central bank community, promote monetary and financial stability, and foster international cooperation in those areas, while continuing to ensure the Bank's financial strength and independence.

In the current context, our challenges have grown. The postcrisis environment poses policy issues, as central banks rethink their monetary policy strategies. Technological innovation is affecting the financial sector and the economy as the digital revolution gathers pace. And the ever changing macroeconomic and financial environment, increased competition and evolving stakeholder needs have given rise to business pressures.

In that light, to prepare ourselves for the new opportunities ahead we launched our new medium-term strategy, Innovation BIS 2025. Developed with strong support and input from our stakeholders, it means the following changes in our three main areas of activity:

  • Our economic analysis and research will broaden in focus to include new themes and respond to the current and foreseeable challenges facing the central bank community and the financial services industry. We will focus work on the implications of technological innovation for central banks, the financial system and the economy at large; monetary policy frameworks in advanced and emerging market economies; and the evaluation of post-crisis financial reforms.
  • As a global forum for cooperation among central banks and other financial authorities, we will continue our strong support for the Basel Process and develop new channels of collaboration and knowledge-sharing. 
  • Our role as the "bank for central banks" requires our banking business to continue to excel, calling for investment in nextgeneration technologies. We aim to expand our range of financial products and services, extend our global operational presence with the establishment of a new dealing room in the Americas, and upgrade our IT environment to more effectively support our activities.

Innovation BIS 2025 was launched in the context of a prolific year. Our research output in 2018/19 garnered much attention.

Our banking activities also had a solid year. Thanks to increased competitiveness, average customer deposits over the 2018/19 financial year increased above the Bank's SDR 200 billion target level, the highest value since 2009. Total assets rose to SDR 291.1 billion by end-March 2019, up 13% from the previous year's level, with net profits at SDR 461 million. Leveraging the regional market expertise of the Representative Office for Asia and the Pacific, new money market and tradable instruments in offshore renminbi (CNH) have been added to the product range, and business in onshore renminbi (CNY) products expanded.

During the year we also celebrated two 20th anniversaries, of the Asian Office and of the Financial Stability Institute. Special events marked both occasions - a reaffirmation of our commitment to our global stakeholders.

As this Annual Report shows, our activities in the past year already reflected the spirit of continuous innovation that we are cultivating - paving the way for the new strategy.

Agustín Carstens