• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Garrett-Cox calls for 'revolution' in sector

KATHERINE Garrett-Cox will today call for a management "revolution" in the UK financial sector to heal its reputation, make finance a force for good in society and and attract young people into the industry.

SPEAKER: Katherine Garrett-Cox will tell business leaders they need to rebuild the public's trust. Picture: Andy Buchanan
SPEAKER: Katherine Garrett-Cox will tell business leaders they need to rebuild the public's trust. Picture: Andy Buchanan

The chief executive of Alliance Trust will tell a 'Tomorrow's City' event in London: "We still value businesses with many of the same metrics we used 100 years ago - through short-term performance and strength of balance sheet. We design complex products which are about making profit for the finance sector rather than what customers in the real economy need.

"We hire in our own image which has resulted in an alarming lack of diversity, we build complex reward structures for ourselves which are often at odds with the value created for shareholders or society, and we stifle innovation.... Let's face it, our past innovations, such as PPI and guaranteed products have not always been a force for good."

Ms Garrett-Cox will tell the event hosted by Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf that the City's status has been tarnished by scandals, which have "reinforced the view that financial services businesses are sometimes self-serving and disconnected from the real world - in truth we have lost a sense of responsibility to others".

She will continue: "To redress the damage that has been done, to rebuild the trust we have lost, to be a part of the solution to the challenges we face as a society - is going to take nothing short of revolutionary change in our sector. We can't wait for regulation to change behaviours; we must change ourselves, to instil the right culture and values within our businesses now."

Ms Garrett-Cox will cite a visit last year to meet a graduating MBA class at the Insead business school, saying: "The next generation is fed up with companies that don't get the balance right between profit and purpose. Younger generations want to work for companies which are a force for good... if you want to be a magnet for talent, you need to get this right."

'Tomorrow's City' is a series of events and dialogues between business leaders and others on how the City can best ensure its future by promoting and enabling long-term value creation.

Ms Garrett-Cox told the Alliance Trust annual meeting in April that the £3 billion company would be prepared to vote against remuneration reports, would avoid cluster munitions makers, and would invest "in such a way that does not compromise our traditional values".

Today she will accuse institutions of "shirking their duty to vote at AGMs", saying: "They come up with lots of excuses - too busy, not enough resources. But the bottom line is that they have a clear responsibility to their clients and they need to take their stewardship responsibilities more seriously. We do."

Alliance Trust recruited Aviva's socially responsible investment team in a £1million deal two years ago, giving the Dundee-based manager a new strand to its long-term value ethos. Ms Garrett-Cox will say : "At the time, some people thought we were mad. Now, we are one of the top five SRI investors in Europe and much good has come of it as we have won assets and recognition for our efforts. But what I've come to realise is that this was just the first step."

She will cite the company's support for a local riding school for the disabled, Scottish Opera's drama workshops for dementia sufferers and their carers, financial education and career advice in schools, and the Soldiers' Charity. "We actively promote volunteering and encourage everyone to think about those less fortunate than ourselves, we support the local food bank....all of these measures have helped create intense loyalty and a unified culture."

Alliance Trust told shareholders last month it had a team of people working on the detail of the separate English subsidiaries it would create in the event of a Yes vote, but that jobs in Dundee were not at risk.

Contextual targeting label: 
Business

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

242386