Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Visited the Library of Mistakes, on the sidelines of the Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) conference in Edinburgh. This brilliant museum or library is dedicated to the history of financial mistakes, folly and scams! (it needs more space!). The brainchild of its founder, Russel Napier, well known economist, former strategist at CLSA and now Edinburgh resident. Funded by the philanthropy of like minded people and companies in Edinburgh and beyond, people who are concerned that Finance has deviated from the common good for society.
BTW, just on this cover page, that’s Russel and me and that black and white portrait on the mantlepiece in the background is Charles Ponzi of the eponymous scheme. Also shown is a toilet with actual devalued currencies wallpaper and books about the 45th President of the United States occupying one of the top shelves in the library! It does not quite have the Billion Dollar Whale book though, which is surely a mistake that needs correcting!
Here for a few days to participate and speak at GEFI, had a closed door roundtable with the UK and Scottish Government, the UN and other players on SDGs and ethical finance hosted by Baillie Gifford. The need to reclaim the financial commons, is quite aptly being held in the hometown of Adam Smith, and the intellectual birthplace of the Scottish Enlightenment some 300 years ago. Made the point that economics and finance need to re-locate its position not just within the moral philosophy framework of Adam Smith, but we all really need to go back even further to the stewardship injunction placed on Adam (& Eve) itself! Used to come here to pitch to the always savvy and tight Edinburgh fund managers, and to sometimes visit Aishah at St Andrews, do the Fringe and Festival, and a memorable investment into Skyscanner. First hitchhiked to Edinburgh from London back in the summer of 1983 with fellow Serpent, Sdr Weng (we went all the way up to Ullapool), always lovely to be back in Scotland, and especially Edinburgh, aka the Athens of the North. Alhamdullilah. 🙏🏛️⚖️
8 October 2019
Edinburgh and the annual Global Ethical Finance Initiative Forum. From quite humble beginnings started by Omar Shaikh and team, has grown to become a leading ethical finance gathering globally, hosted by the Scottish Government and supported by United Nations and leading financial institutions. Also a collaborative platform between the UK Islamic Finance Council and the Church of Scotland, among others
Finally able to participate after years of meaning to, and honored to contribute at three sessions including the honor to address the Scottish Government at the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle. Alhamdullilah.
More importantly, there is a clear and present danger (and opportunity) to repair the fractures and breakdowns between finance to serve the real economy and the real economy to serve good and just society, within nations and between nations. At the home of Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment, wonderful 3 days; learned a lot, made many new friends and caught up with old ones in Edinburgh and in London too. Alhamdullilah.
A thought, as shared with a friend: What is good and right is usually not complex. It’s what comes naturally. Fitrah. A loving God creates us and He gives us tools. Complexity is not really in His plan. Whenever I see complexity it’s usually man made, wittingly or otherwise. In finance, usually complex structures are there to obfuscate, hide things. In many industries, jargon is used to complicate and to exclude. In complex systems like biology, ecology… The hand of men is in there, always… When nature is left to itself (complex or rather beautifully complex and interdependent as it is), it regenerates and it heals itself. Finance – there is a natural way, a Tao, but we have broken it big time. That’s why its so complex and VUCA… And the obfuscators, they profit from the so called agency. Need to reclaim Finance for Society. 🙏🏛️⚖️
13 October 2019