Message from the new ISO President Eddy Njoroge.
It is quite a privilege to be addressing you here as I take up my new role of ISO President. In a world of increasing uncertainty and challenges, there has never been a greater need for standards across all sectors, but particularly for finance. Economic prospects for many countries are increasingly uncertain and ISO standards, as a solid foundation of international expertise, are some of the best tools we have.
Financial services are just one of many sectors where ISO is, and always has been, at the forefront, working on standards in the fields of financial inclusion, digitalization of financial transactions, and, more recently, sustainable finance. These standards not only enable the world to speak a common language, they provide a much needed level of trust.
The financial sector is one I know quite well. After many years in the corporate and financial world, I am an entrepreneur at heart, looking to challenge the status quo and bring more stability to the industry. With strong experience in both the private and public arenas, I am fully aware of the impact that standards can have and how essential they are to our financial system.
Standards have made the financial industry more efficient and improved the exchange of data, an important factor when conducting financial transactions and reporting on financial activity. At the Board of Stanbic Bank in Kenya, we embraced not only management system standards such as ISO 9001, but also the sector-specific standard ISO 20022-6 on message transport characteristics, as a way of simplifying integration between service providers and clients. In addition, standards have made it possible for institutions to integrate and move data to solve the historical inefficiency associated with connecting new partners.
With technology evolving at a fast pace, challenges are bound to rise in areas of information management, data management and cybersecurity. In this regard, the implementation of ISO/IEC 27001 for information security management systems, published in conjunction with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), is key to managing sensitive information and assets. This is particularly important in the financial sector so that it remains secure. To this end, it is essential not only to promote the use of standards that can give the sector a competitive edge, but also to ensure the development of financial standards that leverage on emerging technologies like blockchain, which promote efficiency and financial inclusion.
I intend to use this experience, coupled with my unwavering belief in the value of standards, in my role as ISO President, to further the outstanding work that the ISO international standards community is doing. My goal is to act as a global ambassador for the benefits of standards and the ISO system, and to facilitate the substantial work of coordination, promotion and advocacy.
It is also a remarkable time to be ISO President as we put the finishing touches to the ISO Strategy 2021-2030. We must ensure this strategy is effective and drives us towards making standards as widely used and as relevant as possible. Wider use of these standards is fundamental to a sustainable future, as each and every one of them contributes in its own unique way to achieving the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which promises a fairer, more peaceful and more prosperous world for all.
Standards are our ticket to a sustainable future. Among the objectives of the 2030 Agenda, you will see inclusive growth, clean water and greater equality. ISO has standards that contribute to all of these areas, as well as standards that enable financial inclusion.
A comprehensive set of International Standards for the financial sector has the capacity not only to help us achieve several of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, but to strengthen our global financial system. In a nutshell, ISO standards attempt to tackle two main issues. First, because they are international, the standards facilitate global comparisons, and hence avoid the negative externalities created by confusing and incomplete information. Second, when ISO standards are used around the world, they can facilitate people’s access to mainstream financial services, including savings accounts, loans, insurance and other financial services that help towards a well-regulated financial system. You can read more about these in this ISOfocus issue.
It is paramount that developing countries are included in the financial world. One of the key challenges for them is the lack of trust and transparency, with much economic activity done by unregistered companies. This fosters vulnerability and the risk of corruption and economic decline. Developing country participation is not only desirable but is, indeed, indispensable for achieving sustainable financial markets, and thus greater stability and protection for all – so no one is left behind.
As we embark on a new year, I feel proud and honoured to be President of ISO, following in the footsteps of the many inspirational leaders that have gone before me. In this issue of ISOfocus, the first for 2020, I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone in the ISO community for welcoming me into this new role. I have big shoes to fill, for sure, but I am confident these next two years will be fruitful and progressive. I very much look forward to working with you all.