Central Banking’s strategic changes for a new era

New institute, benchmarks, virtual training and online event weeks launched

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges to the world’s central banks. Policy-makers have had to make critical, time-sensitive decisions to ensure the functioning of the financial system, while at the same time minimising health risks to staff as they have striven to ensure cash, payments and other critical financial infrastructure continued to work smoothly. We expect to learn more about these vital endeavours as we review submissions for the Central Banking Awards 2021 (open for entry until September 28).

Central Banking, too, has faced some of its own hurdles, albeit on a relatively modest scale. Our team of journalists had to work long periods, including off-hours and without leave, to cover the historic developments in March and April, as ever-greater central bank interventions were required to prevent a full-blown financial crisis. The health risks associated with the coronavirus also meant Central Banking conferences, training events and the Central Banking Awards dinner had to be postponed or cancelled, with associated challenges for our events staff.

With the risks associated with Covid-19 highly uncertain, we also had to adapt.

Central Banking conducted an extensive readership and customer survey in late 2019, which proved invaluable in informing our decisions. Editorially, readers said they wanted us to continue to cover the entire central banking community, but supported a shift in emphasis towards more in-depth, analytical content – a transition we have now made. They also recognised the importance of peer-to-peer comparisons in the central banking community, and expressed a desire – and, subsequently, it became an urgent requirement – for virtual events and training. Another key finding was to make sure customers were informed about our full-service offering and benefit from that support across different Central Banking products and services.

As a result, Central Banking is pleased to unveil the Central Banking Institute, which will incorporate Central Banking content, a new Benchmarking Service and virtual training.

The Central Banking Institute

The Central Banking Institute (CBI) is a new ‘members club’ for central banks. Membership is banded, with three tiers – governing, core and associate – having different levels of access to a variety of Central Banking content, benchmarking and training. The rationale for establishing the Central Banking Institute was to ensure central banks receive a fully integrated service offering at an institutional level. This should ensure, for example, that a subscriber to Central Banking editorial content is aware of (and has the option to participate in) our Cambridge, Windsor, Kuala Lumpur and new e-training events, or vice versa.

The Central Banking Benchmarking Service will offer Central Banking Institute members unique insights into the business of central banking, with unrivalled scale and granularity of benchmark data

Members of the Central Banking Editorial Advisory Board, chaired by founder Robert Pringle, will act as the Advisory Board for the Central Banking Institute. Michelle Godwin will oversee all business development activities, working in close co-operation with brand director Nick Carver, to ensure the CBI meets the institutional needs of central bank members.

In addition to members having access to Central Banking content in the form of news, analysis, interviews, commentary, book reviews, topical surveys, podcasts, videos and the Central Banking Directory, members will also secure a number of ‘hours’ to participate in residential and virtual training, as well as access a new benchmarking service.

The Benchmarking Service

The seed for the Central Banking Benchmarking Service came from an editorial conversation last year. The idea was for Central Banking to offer unique data that would be of value to central bankers – something that developed into the launch of an ambitious new peer-to-peer comparison service.

The Central Banking Benchmarking Service will provide information, analysis and interactive data tools that central bankers can use to better understand their work and compare themselves against their international peers. Central bankers told us they highly value aggregated peer-level data for specific departmental functions, but said that collecting this type data was both resource- and time-intensive, and often only done on an ad hoc basis or with a limited group of central banks.

We set up the Central Banking Benchmarking Service to meet this need, with peer surveys taking place regularly in the following areas: communication, corporate services, currency, economics, financial stability, governance, monetary policy, payments, reserves, supervision and technology. As an independent counterparty, Central Banking will create dozens of chart commentary articles, bespoke benchmark charting tools and in-depth reports on each survey area. The first data release, covering reserves and supported by anonymised data from 38 central banks, is being published from today (September 9). Data releases for currency, economics and corporate services will follow in the fourth quarter.

Benchmarks will offer CBI members unique insights into the business of central banking, with unrivalled scale and granularity of benchmark data. For example, the data might offer a risk manager in reserves useful details on the proportion of high- and higher-middle-income country central banks that use two-way credit support annexes for over-the-counter derivatives transactions, or offer a buildings manager details on CO2 equivalent renewables emissions data for central banks in the Americas.

The benchmarks should also trigger more in-depth peer discussions in a bid to better understand and optimise operations and business activities. We expect some of these nuanced discussions will take place during our Central Banking training programmes.

Virtual training

Central Banking has long supported residential and on-site training and events. The human interaction is a key benefit. But lockdowns in response to the Covid-19 pandemic also highlighted that highly meaningful human interaction can still take place via virtual platforms. Therefore, Central Banking has introduced a virtual training programme, featuring 20 courses utilising a blend of interactive formats. Course topics range from anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism to internal audit, from data science to financial regulation, and from business continuity to strategic planning. The virtual training programmes will include chair-selected reading for attendees, accreditation for training and career development, plus breakout rooms for workshops with live chat for speakers and participants. Virtual training is available to all central banks, and training hours are also available to all members of the Central Banking Institute.

Central Banking week

After two postponements of the Central Banking Awards 2020 dinner (originally scheduled to take place in Brussels in March), we decided to celebrate the achievements of many award-winners during a virtual events week, Central Banking week (October 26–29). A video recognising Central Banking Award-winners will be published ahead of Central Banking week, which will include sessions on some of the major challenges facing central banks in the future, our National Asset-Liability Management (NALM) Global Virtual and FinTech & RegTech Virtual Supervisory Summit, as well as modules specifically focused on areas such as communications, currency management, governance, payments and transparency, with many award-winners participating. We will also publish the results of the annual FinTech & RegTech Global Awards.

The virtual platform means there is no need for travel approvals and everything is in one place. Participants can put questions to speakers and peers, chat live with colleagues and see the results of survey polls in real time. Another virtual event week, including NALM Americas and NALM Asia (September 14–18) plus the FinTech and RegTech Global Virtual Summit (September 16), will take place this month.

Some things will not change

We recognise there are a lot of changes taking place at Central Banking. We are excited about them, and hope all our stakeholders will engage with us as we strive to better serve your needs. One thing that will not change, however, is our commitment to providing high-quality, authoritative content – whether online, in print or in person.

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