Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Yes & more no. my comments re The problem of the financial sector is institutional amorality | Guardian Sustainable Business | Guardian Professional

The problem of the financial sector is institutional amorality | Guardian Sustainable Business | Guardian Professional:

I agree with your logic but sadly if you were to rely on politicians and political system to fix the world (especially finance), then sadly you are way off mark. 

FACT: no one country can legislate for the world. Even if we do the right thing in UK does not mean we can fix the financial world, capital market is just too inter-connected internationally now, especially for London/UK. 

I would recommend you & other readers to the book "Winner-Take-All Politics" by Paul Pierson and Jacob Hacker.. Whitehall is not like the white-house but we have seen how lobbyist/think tank/foundations work the world over.. 

If politicians and regulators can really fix things, simple question: 5 years since the credit crunch, why is Lehman Brothers still around (@CNNMoney 16Sep13 Surprise! Lehman Brothers is still big ) and JP Morgan only just been fined $13bn (half of their annual profit), and was JP the lone wolf?? 

IMHO, this is sadly only the beginning (yes after five years).  Surely the elephant in the room: how come no one dare to say publicly what really went wrong and most importantly how to fix it.. !

Salaries and bonuses need to be considered in the wider context of corporate governance and better reporting (yes it is complex), many great initiatives like Tomorrow's Company and the newly launched Integrated reporting does help to address the key issues and encourage firms to "do the right thing", but unless and until EVERYFIRM (government included) does it, sadly it would still fail. As it would be like finding and celebrating Naomi campbell as the fist/best black super model, it is 2013 now and we only see Naomi and Tyra banks (apparently most job still go to white models)!  What we need is ways to instigate an effective DNA changing Good-Rus (vs Virus) and change the world's value chain.. and their goals so everyone start thinking AND acting long, and investing into 'empowering innovations' (pls see below). 

Ultimately the challenge is rather complex and I agree that it involves finance, politics and indeed morality, and IMHO indeed everyone of us (talk is cheap but action is now needed!). We cannot rely on 'others' to make sense for us nor can we just do another 'occupy' movement to raise the agenda.. as the world need not more questions and dispatches/panorama exposes.. but stupid simple and viable solutions and concrete actions. 

I would argue that investment is not only political, it is in fact personal, the days that "blind trusting" the institution or the market and/or government is sadly long gone.  Your institutional amorality point is sadly too 'one sided' and simplistic, I would argue that it is in fact market-wide and financial value chain-issue, which every part of the value chain need to challenge their own thought process/goals. All these were succinctly summarised by Prof Clay Christensen's talk and slide: in essence market is now shifted toward 'keeping/playing money' in the [efficiency innovation mode] rather than investing further in innovations that create things and jobs ; [empowering innovation mode].
(I've been meaning to put down my solution/reply to Prof.Clay's slide, if you guys are interested, ping me, might want to do a blog post if/when I have time) 

What do I know? best to learn from another top professor and industry mogul: I would recommend you and others to read (no doubt you have already) two more books: 1) Prof Colin Meyer's Firm Commitment & 2.) The Clash of the Cultures: Investment vs. Speculation Hardcover by John C. Bogle (rent seeking vs value adding)

Time-horizon is key, you elude to tenure of junior investment staffs, however, same goes for pension fund managers/trustees and even family/charitable foundations.  Do they in fact have any choice?  Given the interconnected/inter-dependent systemically linked finance world now, plus the blind chase of 'growth' means that despite many pension funds only wanted a single digit growth investment option for 50 years, they have no option but to invest short term! Everyone is talking about exit and IPOs but forget key is making a long term viable and hopefully profitable business that does something (surely this is much more important than hype/party/news and paper worth)?

My conclusion? the financial world need to augment the value chain and its DNA, it needs to do things in such a way that it would be "stupid simple" and same across the world (as it is too complex now across different jurisdictions, before looking at the instruments!) In short Gear box change rather than changing oil and gears (& monitor better). 

Yes we are stuck but lets get out and do something impactful. ONLY relying on political change/help would be a grave mistake. 


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