Is your money an extension of your values?
The financial services sector, like others, has been attempting to evolve over the years, moving with the times. I’m not talking about technology; but the people and culture. The regulator has had things to say about culture for some years, but usually too little too late and with no real weight behind it.
Sentry at your door
One of the things you may not be aware of is who we do not use. As your adviser and confidant, I take my role seriously. One aspect of the role is being a bit like a gatekeeper or ‘bouncer’. Some might say I possess the right thuggish look for this! What clients end up with is hopefully a well-screened experience, but you almost certainly don’t know how that is done and how much dross has been screened out, why should you? It’s my job to do this and time is too limited to bore you with all the detail.
So, cutting to the chase – price, functionality, financial resilience, performance and philosophy are all perhaps obvious elements. Culture is much more subjective. Whilst this can include ‘greenwashing’, I also consider elements of what, who, why and how things are done. Rare is the day that you will ever hold a ‘Prima Donna’ investment. Stars are for astronomy not your investments.
We are all familiar with the reality that the wrong people are generally leading the world rather badly. Good leadership is vital, sadly the culture within financial services is often intoxicated by its own sense of importance and ‘leadership’, which often gives way to belief of possessing better skills and a Midas-touch. Performance-fuelled and rewarded and then re-awarding itself like an ever-consuming sycophant.
Nobody is without failings, but some people seem to believe that they can behave with impunity. An error of judgement or mistake is one thing, but constant repetition is another. One of the many problems with success is that people tend to ignore details, yet it is the detail that is likely to be the undoing.
Money, power and sex … or rather abuse
Money and power tend to keep those benefitting from it quiet. Sometimes a lowly observer has to point out the Emperor’s predicament. We can all be fooled, but I am often surprised how easily this is achieved.
You could read the article by Marriage, Cundy and Caruana Galizia in the Financial Times on 8th June 2023 for detail about the behaviour of one of its members, (well several actually). However, the network will generally seek to protect and deflect blame, minimising any wrongdoing as ‘misunderstanding’.
Big fish, small pond
You can make the choice with your money to follow these people or not. However, I have no intention or interest in helping increase the personal fortunes of those whose behaviour privately, publicly and corporately appears self-serving. If you prefer to help these particular millionaires (or billionaires) become richer, that’s your choice, but it’s not mine. For me, money should be ‘used’ not ‘played with’ to impress parents who clearly gave up providing enough attention at the beginning.
Having been around the sector for over three decades, it won’t surprise you to learn that I do not believe regulation or legal action really makes a difference to characters who simply do not care about anyone else. They will of course utter feeble words about lessons being learned, seeking help, blah, blah … whilst standing beside a spouse who has yet to comprehend the depth of the offence … but this is all too predictable. They haven’t changed behaviour and its naïve to think they will.
They bullied or charmed their way into the spotlight. A lifetime of bluff and overconfidence has resulted in them becoming highly skilled liars. However, they are permitted to thrive by others pretending that everything is somehow OK, when it clearly is not. I don’t mean we should all pass judgement on each other’s choices, but ‘the network’ allows it to thrive. Of course, this is not simply within financial services, sadly most walks of life from the pulpit to the bull pit, the shop floor to the studio, the Boardroom to the changing room.
Your money is remarkably powerful – it endorses, promotes, approves and rewards. This is why I take great care in how it is invested and the philosophy behind it. As a client, you back our small firm that rewards its staff fairly and takes each person seriously, helping each to build their own lives on their own terms.
Click here for FT piece