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Produced in partnership with CFA Society United Kingdom and recorded at their Professionalism Conference, this is another packed episode featuring some great interviews:
Pt.1 – Dame Helena Morrissey, Head of Personal Investing at Legal & General Investment Management on Trust and Diversity – jump to Helena’s interview notes
Pt.2 – Jeremy White, Executive Editor of Wired, on AI, Blockchain and Facebook – jump to Jeremy’s interview notes
Pt.3 – Ben Page, Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI on ‘Trust and the State of Britain in 2018’ – jump to Ben’s interview notes
Pt.4 – Gary Baker, CFA Institute’s Managing Director EMEA and Gerry Fowler, Chairman, CFA Society of the UK discuss expectations of a Professional, Ethics and Value – jump to Gary and Gerry’s interview notes
Pt.5 – Patrick Hudson, Professor Emeritus in The Human Factor in Safety at Delft University of Technology, on ‘How High-Hazard Industries Manage Safety’ – jump to Patrick’s interview notes
Pt.6 – James Parsons, Leadership coach at Untapped Talent on ‘The Hidden Drivers of Ethical Behaviour’ – jump to James’ interview notes
Helena was named one of Fortune Magazine’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders and the Financial Times’ 2017 ‘Person of the Year’. She was appointed a Dame in the Queen’s 2017 Birthday Honours list and her first book, A good time to be a girl: Don’t lean in, change the system, was published just a few months ago.
Helena’s keynote address was titled ‘The language of truth – fake news and the opportunity for honesty’, which related to the issue of building trust within the Financial Services industry.
Interestingly, the CFA UK’s April 2016 ‘The Value of The Investment Profession’ report stated that in their own member survey, less than 20% of respondents thought that the profession is held in high regard by broad society. This was backed up by the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, where, when comparing the level of trust of businesses globally across different industries “to do what is right”, the Financial Services industry came out as the least trusted.
Helena said that the industry has been trying to address this issue since the financial crisis [of 2007-2008] but without affect to date. She believes the issue needs to be looked at through a new lens and whilst there have been initiatives put in place to talk about ethics and why investment professionals should be trusted, people want to see that they do what they say. She said that they need to be participating in the big economic and policy debates as this sets the context for investment to help educate on what fund managers do.
On the topic of Diversity, that same CFA UK April 2016 report stated that women represented at that time just 20% of CFA UK members and just over one-third of all new candidates for the CFA Programme in the UK. Helena therefore said that all areas of diversity, be that Socio-economic, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation, etc., are important as part of the process of building trust because people in the industry don’t look like those who they serve, and that young people want to join companies where existing talent look like themselves and where they have an inclusive culture. However, Helena said that one thing she learned from leading the 30% Club is that it’s about revolutionising every aspect of the hiring and management of developing talent and making sure they are not sticking to past practices, She added that the Diversity Project now has 50 members and they are starting to get some momentum.
Helena also made the point though that the financial sector was at the bottom of the recently published Gender Pay Gap data, in terms of the biggest pay gaps, and that there are still very few women in senior roles, ethnic minority fund managers and very few disabled people working in the industry. However, she added that there is a lot of effort be put into thinking of new ways of working, for example, looking to implement agile working.
Interview starts at 6:40
Jeremy White, Executive Editor of Wired, provided the closing keynote at the conference on how AI and Machine Learning is being used to give businesses competitive advantage and how professionals can use the technology.
He described AI as a workhorse, being able to crunch huge amounts of data for the professionals, freeing up their time to enable them to work smarter. He used the legal profession as an example, where AI is used to read through long legal documents to spot inconsistencies.
Jeremy’s talk also highlighted the importance of Blockchain, and he gave the example of TUI moving their entire hotel inventory onto Blockchain, saving millions [of pounds] and enabling them to show, in real time, what rooms are available and at what prices, overcoming the issues of selling the same hotel rooms at different prices in different jurisdictions.
We also talked to Jeremy about the current situation with Facebook, following an opinion piece that was published on Wired by their Senior Editor, Rowland Manthorpe, which was a pretty damning piece about how Facebook uses data.
Jeremy said that what was most interesting about the article was where it talked about the fact that even if you are not on Facebook, they are still able to construct a ‘grey’ profile of you, garnered by what you have done on pages where there are Facebook ‘Like’ buttons, for example. Jeremy pointed out that he probably only logs in to Facebook once every two years and in fact Rowland, who wrote the article, had stated within it that he doesn’t use Facebook at all.
Jeremy added that the US team in Wired looked at the history of Facebook and catalogued just how many times Mark Zuckerberg has apologised to users for breach of data or trust, which he suggested meant that a lesson is not being learned, where they will go in a direction until they get enough push back and only then will they move the goalposts. However, he doesn’t feel there will be a huge financial impact to Facebook. He thinks the apathy of the general public shouldn’t be underestimated, because if they like the service enough, he said you really have to greatly offend them for them to stop using it. Wired UK’s own Facebook page has 115,000 likes and the US Wired Facebook page has over 2.8m people who have liked it.
Interview starts at 18:36
Ben said that there is a lot of uncertainty around and by looking at the media, we can see the country divided and fragmented over Brexit, divided by age and split between London and the rest of the country.
However, rather than look at the problems, Ben was keen to focus on the many things in the UK that unite us, such as the NHS, the monarchy, and our values including attitudes to homosexuality and gay marriage. He believes that Britain is more at peace with itself and more liberal than some of the daily news headlines may have us think.
Ipsos MORI have been tracking trust levels since 1983 through their ‘Trust in Professions’ report. Ben said there has been no change in whether people trust politicians to tell the truth and that all the communications around Brexit have made no difference to that at all, adding that we’ve never trusted politicians. He cited a UK survey from August 1944 by George Gallup, as the Allies fought the Nazis in Northern France. When Gallup polled the UK population if the politicians were acting in the country’s interest, in their own interests or in their party’s interest, even then, only 35% of people thought the politicians were acting in the interest of the county.
As for the financial services industry, Ben said it’s singled out by experts on a regular basis as the industry with a reputation problem with some of the biggest challenges, and it does have a lower level of trust than other industries, such as retailers. However, it can be improved, and Ben advised that one of the drivers of key trust in business is having a real purpose, as well as being open & transparent and engaging. He recommended companies show what they do for the country, where they invest and why they have made the decisions they have, as well as having a visible leader and reciprocity, i.e. giving something back, all of which will help them.
Interview starts at 24:15
Gerry explained that CFA UK’s mission is to build a better investment profession, which centres around three things:
He added that this all points to what it means to be ethical as an individual and to be professional as part of a professional body, which means putting investor and client’s and society’s interests first.
The CFA Institute represents more than 150,000 members, made up of 151 local member societies across a similar number of countries. Commenting on a quote from Paul Smith, the CFA Institutes’ President and CEO, made in the CFA UK’s April 2016 report where he said that “the biggest disparities between what an investor expects and what they receive relate to fees and performance”, Gary said that this relates to what firstly what is promised and whether that is explicit or implicit, and then what is actually delivered. He felt that the industry rightly gets a lot of criticism on that front end of marketing and that the transparency of performance, jargon and fees has a lot of questions. However, delivery has been a lot better over the last ten years, post financial crisis, but they haven’t re-established trust and he feels that this is still because of how they are presenting themselves to many investors, which needs to be addressed as an industry.
Gerry said that the CFA Charter has become the gold standard for global investment professionals because the globalisation of capital means that there is a homogenisation of professionalism and standards around the world, which, as well as because of social conscious, is part of the reason why we are talking about Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) standards so much. He felt it’s because there is much more diversity in ESG standards across a more integrated global capital framework.
Gerry added that there is a lot of discussion around the model of capitalism and whether firms should be required to satisfy the needs of their shareholders. He said that for example, in banks, the equity shareholders are a very small component of the capital structure and that maybe bond holders should have a dominant say in what happens in a bank, which is just one example before talking about other stakeholders, such as employees and society. He therefore believes that firms do need to be very clear about what their purpose is and that surveys show that employees want to work for a firm that has a mission and a purpose that they agree with, which is just as important in investment management as it is anywhere else.
Interview starts at 33:45
Patrick is one of the world’s leading authorities on the human factor in the management of safety in the oil and gas industry, in commercial aviation, mining and in medicine and has advised clients such as Shell, Exxon-Mobil as well as Boeing, Airbus, British Airways and many other major global organisations. He was at the conference presenting on ‘How High-Hazard Industries such as Aviation and the Oil and Gas Manage Safety’ and that, if they get that wrong, there are very severe consequences for their people, assets and reputation, which other industries can learn from, particularly on the issue of reputation.
There is of course a lot that those industries now get right, and one thing Patrick highlighted that others need to do is to learn to love your regulator. However, companies also need to do proper management of the safety and risks so that you know what might hurt you and what you can subsequently do about it, and finally ensuring that you have the right culture, which makes you do the things you know you should do. He added that he has seen through some of the major disasters that everyone knew what to do, but they never quite got around to doing it.
Patrick has devised his own model on culture within a business with respect to managing safety and risk, based on a previous model by Ron Westrum.
Patrick’s model has five levels:
Interview starts at 44:35
James said that a poll that was run with attendees at the conference, whilst small in number and therefore not necessarily statistically significant, suggested that there might be an ethics problem within the Financial Services industry. He added that whether there is or there isn’t an ethics problem, there certainly is a perception amongst investment professionals that there is one and this is backup by what we can read in the media too. However, he said that problems we find that are the product of malfeasance, i.e. wrong doing, are quite rare. Mostly it’s the result of people being tired, who are trying to do the right thing, but just get it wrong, or architecturally their firms are not set out for success.
Within James’ workshop he was asking attendees to consider four hidden sources of unethical behaviour:
From all these though, James feels that the wellness agenda is often overlooked, yet is potentially the one that has the most damaging effect. He said that if people can see the links between stress and scandal, which he added that the city is renowned for both of those two things, then we can possibly start to take more preventative measures to avoid these issues.
To find out more about the workshop that James was running, go to untapped-talent.co.uk.
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