Elisabeth Adams is the Secretary General of Luxembourg for Finance (LFF) and newly elected InFiNe.lu board member.
Could you tell us more about your background? What are your current responsibilities within LFF?
As Secretary General I am in charge of coordinating, in close consultation with the management, the activities of Luxembourg for Finance across departments to ensure the implementation of LFF’s overall strategic priorities as well as successful completion of individual projects.
I have a PhD in History of Art with a focus on medieval church architecture. However I decided to switch careers immediately after finishing my PhD.
The origin of Luxembourg’s international role in sustainable finance can be traced back to the pioneering work done here in Luxembourg in the area of inclusive finance.
As the development agency of the financial centre we represent Luxembourg’s sustainable finance community, of which inclusive finance is a part. Our mission is to communicate abroad on the various sustainable finance initiatives, as well as to foster dialogue and innovation among individual players. We play an active role in the Climate Finance Task Force and are a founding member of LuxFLAG. Furthermore, LFF supports the drafting of Luxembourg’s sustainable finance roadmap, which is developed in cooperation with UNEP. LFF also represents the Luxembourg financial centre in the recently launched Network of Financial Centres for Sustainability.
What are your key interests in inclusive finance?
We tend to think that financial inclusion is a problem in underdeveloped countries only. However, in certain states in the US, for example, more than 40% of residents are unbanked; the same number goes for Romania. So, to me it is important to get the concept of financial inclusion out of the niche and to make it an established part of sustainable finance.
What are the biggest challenges for inclusive finance and how can Luxembourg and InFiNe.lu contribute to overcoming those challenges?
I see three major challenges:
Firstly, there is still a gender gap when it comes to adults with bank accounts. In underdeveloped countries, this gap can be as large as 30%. Globally, 65% of all unbanked adults are women. So, despite growing awareness about financial inclusion and increased usage of mobile phones, there is still a lot more to do.
Secondly, there is the challenge of private sector engagement. Though governments are ultimately in the driver’s seat, it is the private sector that maps out strategies for a given market by developing tailored financial products, building infrastructure in the field and providing technical assistance. The private sector can also identify potential barriers to business which, in turn, plays an important role by stimulating regulation.
Finally, there is a need to propagate best practice across different markets. LFF contributes, amongst others, to the cross-fertilisation of ideas by systematically promoting sustainable finance in its overseas missions and supporting the development of FinTech solutions.
Luxembourg has a long track record in sustainable finance, built on a tradition of active service in the microfinance field. There is also a vast pool of experience in the management of cross-border investments. InFiNe.lu can leverage this knowledge and Luxembourg’s reputation as a recognised sustainable finance centre to address challenges and stimulate innovation both within the local community, and around the world.