Last week I had the genuine please of attending the annual conference and 20-year anniversary dinner for the Fund Executive Association (FEAL).
FEAL is the peak industry group promoting and supporting leadership for our superannuation executives in Australia. Over 20 years ago, I was lucky enough to co-found this incredible organisation, and I can’t tell you how proud I was to be there in a room full of highly intelligent people who are genuinely striving to make a difference in our world.
The theme of the conference was “shared value” and as I concept it is, I believe, what our industry has been missing. By that I mean, we have failed to develop adequate measures for what our businesses create outside of financial profit. Which has ultimately led to the world being in the state it is – with climate change and the great divide between rich and poor widening to unprecedented levels.
We like to measure everything in financial services. And profit and ROI is the absolute most important measure – I get that. And, of course, so do the super funds that are investing our funds every day. They are constantly looking for returns for members.
But importantly, more than anyone else I have seen, super funds are also looking to measure other qualities, which are equally as important but never as celebrated. Like the shared value businesses and communities create. And the value of sustainable building. And infrastructure. And ways to tackle social inequality and climate change to name a few.
After this conference, and the new season of After Hours that we are currently filming, I have come to realise as I never really have before, that in fact our profit-to-member super funds are truly nation-makers - in a way very few countries get to experience because of their sheer size and ethical intent.
This is an incredibly exciting thing to be a part of. And we can all participate in some way to help the focus stay on the right things, not just the bottom line. Because we have been missing measures that help us truly value the social and environmental impact investing and business can create, which is something I believe was only truly bought into the light with the Royal Commission.
Global leader in business and human rights services for KPMG, Richard Boele, said that a catastrophic loss of trust is not a “black swan event.”
“There are,” he said, “signs along the way. It’s just harder challenge yourself when things are going well.”
And while ever profits have been rolling in, it seems we have all conditioned ourselves to thinking things are going well. But the bigger picture, and the lack of shared value created for everyone, would tell us that is far from the case.
I can only hope that with high quality leadership and a focus on what really matters from our superannuation leaders that our measures in business and returns will start to expand to include far more than the bottom line. It’s then that we know are all working toward leaving the planet a better place.
If you would like to see a video we created for the FEAL 20 year, anniversary, click here.
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