The State of Socially Responsible Investing

“investors are increasingly conscious of the social and environmental consequences of the decisions that governments and companies make. They can be quick to punish companies for child labor practices, human rights abuses, negative environmental impact, poor governance, and a lack of gender equality. Pair this with an increase in regulatory drivers post-2008 crisis, and a deepening understanding of the impacts of climate change and associated risk to performance, and we begin to see more clearly the need for investment models that will better address investors’ concerns.”

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COP24: Ten Years on from Lehman Brothers, We Can’t Trust Finance with the Planet

“It is difficult to ignore that a strong reliance on private finance means putting the future of Earth in the hands of individuals and institutions that brought the global economy to the verge of collapse. It may be partially true that some are divesting from fossil fuels and funnelling their money into better projects. But before we pin our hopes on finance to solve climate change, there are some things we need to ask ourselves.”

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We’ll Wait an Eternity for the Banks to Fix Themselves. Here’s What We Can Do Now

“As Babbage noted almost two centuries ago, wherever financial products are sold on commission, the payment received by the agent or broker has all the characteristics of a bribe. These habits of rapacity are so deeply ingrained in the culture and operation of financial institutions that no amount of self regulation, no elaboration or reinforcement of voluntary codes of conduct, has been able to spare the sector from the corruption and debasement that Babbage foresaw. More self regulation won’t help. Here’s what would.”

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Mobilising the Social Sciences to Rethink Finance

“What needs to be promoted, ten years after the financial crisis, is how the social sciences can be used collectively to develop a new conception of finance. What follows is based on the book we have just published, The Making of Finance: Perspectives from the Social Sciences. We present the wealth of social studies of finance and reveal the fabric of the financial system, with the aim of contributing to the democratisation of knowledge in this field.”

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Toppling Bankers Can Be Satisfying, But It’s Not Enough to Heal a Sick Culture

“There’s symbolic power in heads rolling when organisations do wrong. It can be particularly cathartic for victims of bad behaviour. But merely changing leaders is no guarantee of a fresh start or new direction for those organisations. On its own it will not heal a sick culture or prevent future malfeasance.”

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Confiscate Their Super. If It Works for Sports Stars, It Could Work for Bankers

“Blame the individual bankers if you will – some bank boards, covering their own hides, already have – but the executives have simply been doing what dud incentives incentivised them to do. Replacing dud incentives with proper ones will be essential if the the banks are to regain public trust. And incentives being considered for sportspeople could show the way.”

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A Tip for Bankers ahead of the Royal Commission: Be More like Doctors

“The financial services royal commission [of Australia] resumes for its final round of hearings on Monday […] At issue are shocking abuses of trust, and when the government responds after receiving the report in February it will be under pressure to introduce tighter rules that more closely regulate bankers’ behaviour. There’s another, better, path it could follow. It could loosen the rules and treat bankers more like doctors.”

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Must Financial Regulation Come from the State? The History of Self-Regulating Markets

“Despite the fact that there is little evidence for this proposition, it is widely held that deregulation of financial markets caused the financial crisis. […] If only the extraordinary history of regulatory institutions that arise from within markets themselves were appreciated, there might be less of a tendency to rush to the assumption that government bureaucracies should be the main regulators of financial markets.”

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Moral Markets visits…. The Slippery Slope: Recognizing and Overcoming Ethics Challenges

What can the finance world learn from past events about future behavior? When will the ethical slope start to be slippery? And what are the consequences for regulation the financial sector and the public at large? Report from a seminar with participants from the banking sector.

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Bank Codes of Conduct: Add Bars to the Window Dressing and Make Them Legally Binding

“The truth is that most codes of conduct are just glossy, aspirational documents handed to new employees then promptly forgotten until an excuse to fire someone is needed. Their lie has been exposed by the many examples of dishonest, illegal, deceptive, fraudulent, grossly incompetent or grossly negligent conduct revealed by the royal commission. How to make codes of conduct real tools of good behaviour rather than exercises in deceptive advertising?”

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Trust Has to Be as Important as Profit if Banks and Their Boards Are to Regain Their Corporate Legitimacy

“For the past three years I have used confidential, high-level interviews and forums to examine the views of board members (including members of bank boards) in order to understand the tensions and trade-offs they make as they navigate social, environmental and stakeholder concerns.”

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