How Can We Accelerate the Rebuilding of Trust and Confidence in Financial Services?

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According to the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, the banking and financial services sector is routinely rated as the least trusted of all sectors. That’s a serious and systemic problem for a sector that needs to be trusted to function succesfully.

There’s nothing new in that problem – it has been widely accepted for decades that financial services isn’t trusted; and of course the Global Financial Crisis made the problem even worse. We can think of the trust deficit as a festering sore on the face of financial services; and it’s a sore that simply hasn’t been treated.

Treatment of the trust deficit is long overdue so I hope you find it refreshing to know that many people around the world are now working together to actually do something about the problem. They are working together on a voluntary basis to “create a framework for finance reform;” and at the heart at that framework for finance reform is a wonderfully simple yet potentially very effective idea – to have “Finance Development Goals.

There are 12 Finance Development Goals and each one is focused on a root cause of the trust deficit.

Here’s a straightforward listing of the Finance Development Goals with an accompanying quotation for each one to help articulate what they are about:

FDG: Be transparent

“Sunlight is the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman” – Justice Louis Brandeis

FDG: Be Evidence-Based

“In God we trust, all others bring data.”  – W Edwards Deming

FDG: Govern well

“Good governance is the art of putting wise thought into prudent action in a way that advances the well-being of those governed.” – Diane Kalen-Sukra

FDG: Create a client-centric culture

“Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.” – Potter Stewart

FDG: Design products that deliver

“Good design is like a refrigerator—when it works, no one notices, but when it doesn’t, it sure stinks.” – Irene Au

FDG: Communicate authentically

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  – George Bernard Shaw

FDG: Act with purposefulness

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary projects, all your thoughts break their bonds; your mind transcends limitations; your consciousness expands in every direction; and you find yourself in a great new and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” – Patanjali

FDG: Incentivise responsibly

“Show me the incentives and I’ll show you the outcome” – Charlie Munger, Berkshire Hathaway

FDG: Stabilise the ecosystem

“Remember when nurses, carers, teachers and students crashed the stock market, wiped out banks, took billions in bonuses and paid no tax? No, me neither.” – Fuad Alakbarov

FDG: Raise awareness through education

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

FDG: Raise awareness through education

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

FDG: Protect the consumer from harm

“To not do what you can to protect someone, that’s cowardly.” – Jodi Lynn Anderson

FDG: Manage Risk

“Not taking risks one doesn’t understand is often the best form of risk management.” – Raghuram G. Rajan

The idea is that the many hundreds of people involved with the project will work collaboratively to create and execute a plan that centres around engaging with the 1,000 most influential people in financial services, who, in effect, govern the way the financial services sector operates.

Those VIPs include politicians, policymakers, regulators, the leaders of the major trade bodies, the leaders of the professional associations and the top financial think tanks, academics and thought leaders; and of course the leaders of the major commercial organisations; be they banks, asset managers, insurers and so on.

If you wish to know more about this initiative to help drive positive, progressive and purposeful finance reform, you should know that there are special meetings taking place in Europe, North America, the Far East and Australia; and of course if you can’t attend any of them you can engage with the project through conference calls and webinars.

All are welcome, especially those with an interest in the intersection between technology and regulation; and those who have an interest in topics such as data science, regulation, compliance and e-discovery.

Please enquire through [email protected]

Andy Agathangelou
Andy formed the Transparency Task Force after a meeting he led at Senate House, University of London on 6th May 2015. The meeting was about the need for the financial services industry to behave in a more trustworthy way and how harnessing the transformational power of transparency can drive the change needed.

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