What kind of leaders, what kind of management do we need?
In such a context and at this particular time in history it is clear that we need responsible leaders, able to use the power of their position to manage change and create a culture of responsibility. Ethical engagement will become the path towards culture change. We have no choice.
The pressure for transparency will inevitably increase: it will come from tax authorities trying to curb tax avoidance or regulate tax management; from governments pushing for greater accountability, challenging corporate secrecy, chasing corruption and money laundering; from investigative reporting (for example Luxembourg’s sweetheart tax deals for multinationals) and from NGOs demanding that payments to governments be made explicit (“Publish what you pay”).
The push for “global” standards in an attempt to reduce “profit-shifting” and the funneling of money to tax shelters and tax havens – though hard to implement – is progressing, and murky shell companies will progressively disappear. Insider trading is being more effectively chased through more powerful securities regulation. We are facing a disclosure revolution (EU transparency rules) and “transparency” is becoming the currency of today’s leadership. It brings with it new risks. Though the entire financial sector resents this trend towards restricting freedom of flux (as with the reaction to the Dodd-Frank Bill I mentioned earlier) it could in fact help enlightened leaders in the banking profession to implement the changes that they tried and failed to initiate in the past.
We will also need an enhanced capacity to manage risk (over and above an expertise in due diligence, in assessing country and financial risk in the vagaries of a volatile market) as banks will remain exposed to a number of other risks (beyond cyber crooks) such as the danger of employees leaking information. This should remain a categorical imperative, permanently on the radar screen of the leaders. Finally, we will need to make a constant assessment of the context, of the evolution of the new civilization in the offing, and pay careful attention to the weak signals that will help the move from a red to a blue ocean (i.e. to innovation). Imagination will do the rest.