15 January 2018
6th Edition of the Global Prize
Conference Center of the Banque de France, Paris
Let me introduce myself: I am Paul Dembinski, and I have to honour to Co-chair of the Ethics and Trust in Finance Prize with Mrs Josina Kamerling, and to be the initiator and Director of the Observatoire de la Finance – established in Geneva in 1996.
We are honoured to be here today, in this Auditorium. In the very first place, I would like to express our deep thanks for the « friendly support » – as it has been officially called – of the Banque de France, and for the sympathy of its Governor Mr. François Villeroy de Galhau. This support was critical in allowing the present Ceremony to take place. The Governor will give his keynote address in a few minutes. Our warmest thanks and welcome go to Mr. Angel Gurría – Secretary General of the OECD – who will be speaking just after the Governor – for having immediately accepted our invitation to address this audience, particularly the laureates of the 6th Edition of the Ethics & Trust in Finance Global Prize.
But the reason we are here is to honour the laureates – and through them – the work of about one hundred young people who devoted time, energy and effort to write and submit an essay on the role of ethics and trust in finance. Out of all these essays, the Jury has selected 4 papers of utmost interest. The laureates of today are the authors of these essays. They are here to represent those of their generation who really care about making the world better and our finance and economy truly serving society and the human person.
Join me in giving an applause to the laureates!
With its 6th edition about to close, the Prize has entered its second decade. Together with Mrs Carol Cosgrove Sacks we started it in 2005 – before the crisis erupted.
This Prize is – in its own history – a lesson of optimism: an illustration of how a tragedy can be overcome and made to bear fruits. As you may know, Robin Cosgrove was working of a hedge fund in London and Tokyo when he died in a hiking accident. A few days earlier, he has shared with his mother concerns about the state of mind and about the vanishing ethical sense in the financial industry. After his death his mother, took this as a mission to the Observatoire de la Finance joined forces with her. Together we started to look for partners and support.
Since the Prize – whose name was changed in 2016 to « Ethics & Trust in Finance » – has accomplished an impressive journey rending its initiators happy and proud. It started as a confidential initiative, and is today the world reference in the field of ethics in finance. The book «Trust & Ethics in Finance» published in 2012 in cooperation with Globethics, contains the nominated essays of the first three editions of the Prize. It has been downloaded more than twenty thousand times. This is also due to the recommendation made in 2014 by the International Monetary Fund – Mrs Lagarde was hosting the Award Ceremony in Washington in late 2015.
The 6th edition was officially launched in March in Brussels, with a deadline for handing in the papers on the 31st of July 2017.
The 6th Edition has largely been made possible thanks to the support of our strategic partners – CFA Institute represented by Mrs J. Kamerling and Euroclear, represented by Mr. Stephane Bernard – and of our remaining partners – ACCA (Mrs. Jo Iwasaki) and Polish Banks Association (Mr. Wladyslaw Golebiewski) – but above all, this achievement is due to the commitment of the four following persons: Mrs. Hannah Soissons (Observatoire de la Finance), Mrs. Nati Garcia (Observatoire de la Finance), Mrs. Eve Lacomblez (CFA Institute) & Mr. Martin Gregson (Euroclear). Let’s take this opportunity to express our warmest thanks to them and also our congratulations. The success of the laureates is also the success of the Prize-team.
I have to underline that the Prize is run almost without resources, the Chairs and the Jury are giving their time – a lot of time – for absolutely free. We all – including the laureates – have to be thankful for this. At the end of the day, edition after edition we manage to gather 20’000 dollars which will be shortly distributed to the laureates.
The Jury has worked in three steps, its work finalized with a Jury meeting in London on 18 November 2017.
One of the most interesting aspects of the prize is that essayists were distributed equally between the academic and research and the economic/financial background. Two other points of note are the increasing presence of women and that number of authors not coming from major financial capitals.
From one prize edition to the other, essays submitted offer a thematic panorama of what the younger generation is preoccupied with in the domain of ethics in finance in this 6th edition three different key subjects came up:
- Fintech and the different issues on how ethics applies to it; can technology substitute for some ethical concerns due to the automated factor? Or does fintech require additional ethical standards to control it.
- Trust declining as the increasing amount of client data allows financial groups to segment and ultimately discriminate against their customers. These new techniques need a new security system to prevent abuse.
- What initiatives should be continued and which should be abandoned. In this context, a renewed look at the traditionally paternalist role of financial institutions. The appropriateness of ‘nudging’ and how far it is possible to go in pushing products considered right for the investor profile. Should the financial system be regulated as a common good?
The best way to understand how the under 35’s look and try to apprehend ethics in finance is to take with you the booklet with nominated essays, and read. You will understand that the Jury did not face an easy task in selecting the laureates. You will get a complimentary copy of the booklet, when leaving this room.
Closing 6th edition coincides almost perfectly with the pre-launch of the 7 Edition which will culminate at the end on 2019. The launch is expected to take place in May at the European Investment bank in Luxemburg.
For the 7th Edition, we have ambitious plans: expand the number of linguistic chapters – revive the Ibero-american chapter; build a chapter for German-speaking authors, and one for la Francophonie. The winning papers of the these local competition, are translated by us and join the Global contest. As it is the case now with the Polish chapter.
Indeed our experience, and some elements of research show that “deep ethics” as opposed to “compliance” – requires a linguistic competence that most of us only have in our mother-tongue and possibly one or – at the utmost – two other languages. In ethics, one language – even the Global English – does not necessarily fit all.
We also intend – as suggested by a nominated essay to develop jointly with the young authors – a Massive Online Open Access Course on Ethics & Trust in Finance. We need for this a couple of additional strategic partners – in academia, in public bodies, in business. I am sure that you will not leave this call for cooperation and support unanswered.
And now: it is my honour and pleasure to invite the Governor of Banque de France, to deliver his keynote address