A healthy financial system is crucial to the success of any capitalist economy. Finance therefore has a vital social function to play. Yet many financial institutions seem to have lost sight of their core social purpose and their recent record has not been met with much social approval.
These systemic and behavioural issues are complex and have been the subject of much thinking and action by the financial sector and their stakeholders. There is however little evidence of any fundamental change in the behaviours of financial services firms.
Together with a financial regulator, we created the ‘Financial Salon’ to simulate discussion between the sector, their stakeholders and the wider society around some of the most pressing issues. Not with the intention to provide ‘solutions’ – if such even exist. Rather it is intended to create a view from ‘the outside in’, rather than from ‘the inside out’ and develop deeper understanding of the underlying issues.
We played the role of the ‘inspiring host’ by organising and facilitating salon evenings. We provided perspectives on the broad issues and brought together some of the key stakeholders to explore openly some of the challenging questions facing the industry, its regulators, other stakeholders and broader society.
The Financial Salon – and spin-off initiatives – have become a ‘safe haven’ for the industry to discuss issues such as: is a change in culture necessary in the industry or is it even possible, is the regulatory framework appropriate? Does it help or hinder progress? What roles do politicians, regulators and industry executives have to play in re-setting the relationship between the industry and the rest of society?
It has created deeper insights in some of the most pressing systemic issues within the sector and has led to follow-on initiatives aimed at individual financial institutions.