16th March 2021
One of the many pleasures of my work is that I meet people from all walks of life who bring different perspectives to their financial planning. Different people will often view money differently too; some want to know that they have just enough for their lifetime while others who have perhaps inherited their wealth or act as an Attorney feel a real sense of responsibility and stewardship to pass their money on or to use it for a specific purpose. What is equally fascinating is the different ways they and we value money and the other elements that make up our lives, be it health, family, work, or those special items that we save up for.
At the end of last year, I listened to the Reith Lectures delivered by Mark Carney the former Governor of the Bank of England and now the UN Secretary-General Special Envoy for Climate Finance. Mark Carney has a real skill for communicating and my observations above came to mind as what he said really chimed with me. In these lectures which I wholeheartedly recommend if you have the time and interest, he looks at how as a society we have come to prioritise financial values over human values and the consequences of this.
It’s true that value and indeed success is often measured in financial terms for example a company’s profit, someone’s salary and the contribution goods or services make to a country’s economy (GDP). These are all essential to make our economy’s function but in isolation they can give money undue power. This single minded vision can also contribute to financial crises, our climate crisis. As my nephew aged 14 commented “so not only have you messed up the planet, but you have messed up the economy too”. I don’t think he is holding me solely responsible but for a number of decades money has been the primary concern at the expense of all else. It seems that our social values have often sat outside the financial markets.
HOWEVER……….. all is not lost as we are seeing a real shift in the role money has to play, which for a number of reasons will be more than a passing phase. This started before the pandemic (yes there was such a time!) and has since been accelerated by recent events. It was driven largely by the climate crises and the targets set by Governments worldwide including the UK’s ambitious target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 whereby we remove the same level of carbon from the atmosphere as we emit, with a significant reduction to be made by 2030.
Governments are not going to be able to achieve this alone, they will need large corporations, private finance, and the investment markets to all pull in the same direction. Companies will need to adapt and change their practices hugely to ensure they minimise their carbon emissions and operate in a climate friendly way – those that do not will not succeed.
We have also seen in the last year how Governments have prioritised health over the economy. We have come to value those who work in the healthcare sector and parents experiencing home schooling have come to value teachers. We have seen generous displays of civic duty with vast numbers of people volunteering, without them the vaccine rollout would not be the success it is, and many more people are wanting to be active in their community.
We are moving towards an alignment of monetary and social values where we are seeing that the companies who are doing well are those whose purpose is not just to create a profit but also do good for society.
I am lucky enough to have a number of clients in their 20’s and for them this is the norm, they are wondering why we have only just arrived at the party.
So, the future is bright, and we are all making a difference. I hope you have a great weekend, it doesn’t look as though its going to be a good one for gardening. If gardening is an interest the daughter of one of our clients, Tamsin Westhorpe, who is a renowned Gardener has written an excellent book that is providing me with lots of practical tips each month ……. perfect rainy day gardening!
Veronica Devereux DipPFS