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Transforming Finance Conference 2016


financelab-collage-05Written by Inka Stafrace. Originally published here.

The Transforming Finance Conference 2016, held at UCL, Bedford Way, Central London, organized by the Finance Innovation Lab, May 11th brought together campaigners, trade unionists, policymakers, researchers, academics and innovators to share their projected solutions to what they considered to be the most pressing flaws in our finance industy. I was there filming short interviews for the Finance Innovation Lab for a video due out on June 20th.

Key Note speaker was Lord Adair Turner.financelab7

The light at the end of the dark and eerie finance tunnel (that traditional economists and financiers seem stuck in) is lit by the critical thinkers of this conference


The light at the end of the dark and eerie finance tunnel (that traditional economists and financiers seem stuck in) is lit by the critical thinkers of this conference. Their suggested reform; restructure; revamp; and re-regulation of their chosen targets was heartening because it was delivered in a manner that was accessible, ie: not gobbily gook. My personal research for the Occupy London film, Tense at St.Paul’s that I am produce-directing, revealed that no substantial changes have occured in the finance industry since the Global Financial Crisis and yet the Tory government imply the exact opposite. Call me naive, but not being an expert in finance, just a mere filmmaker, did not give me the confidence to be anything but confused. I like to believe that a semblance of truth is said by our political leaders. This conference validated my research and such validation sparkled my mind. Repeat the solutions, reiterate them, reproduce them until they are recited by others seems to be the way to go. The inherent repetition (since around 2011) was ironically promising.


…..time is quite a factor in a ticking bomb scenario, which most speakers implied the finance industry still is


problems unite, solutions divide

However problems unite and solutions divide. This human condition/phenomena was present despite all participants being flawlessly civil about it. The stakes are really high and people feel passionately about their chosen solution. It is not that any of the solutions were at dire odds with each other from my understanding, but each would take quite some time to lobby for and then implement and time is quite a factor in a ticking bomb scenario, which most speakers implied the finance industry still is.



finance-lab-b-roll-01One of my regular daydreams kicked in, in between takes: A weekly (video-on-line) program where such thinkers can voice updates or new findings on their chosen ‘campaign’. The program would highlight grassroots movements and campaigners and defy the dictatorship of the fabricated news cycle. Its measure of success would be in the number of people it inspires to actively participate in the campaigns it covers.

Ideas are cheap…opinions even more so. Solution seeking requires not only creativity but its marketting too. Most creators just don’t have the time to do what it takes to market their ideas so as to ensure their ideas gain enough traction to make their mark and to furthermore inspire public mobilisation around. This video program would address this gap in the communication of bright ideas.

stock-vector-mad-hatter-s-tea-party-alice-in-wonderland-original-vintage-engraving-tea-party-with-the-mad-75202609Alice asked : Were art thou funding?

Mad Hatter : In The Havens…. If you are good you too could end up there.

Alice lowered her brow knowingly, for she was certain that she was as good as all the people she knew who had ended up in The Havens.




The creation of blue prints is what is needed now and Benoit Lallemand (Finance Watch) is part of creating just that. Finance Watch based in Brussells’ focus is on the relationship of finance and an economy that does not destroy the planet. Moving beyond the faults and creating solutions is where the light is and I was a getting a sun tan. It felt good. Until the video is commissioned, I shall summarise the response to the question :

What do you feel is the most important change to the finance system that needs to be implemented?

The response from around 20 interviewees fell into 6 main categories.

  1. Democratisation of the finance system which included making it less complex so as there to be a point to it being more transparent. Not much point in it being transparent if no one can understand it right? Also in this category was the call for regulation to stop the banks’s unaccountability and furthermore acting with impunity.
  2. Addressing the issue of some banks being too big to fail. There was a general agreement that breaking up the large banks and making them more local was an important measure for a variety of reasons. The suggestion that the government should lead the way by doing so to RBS was given more than once. This category also addresses the demise of lending to the real economy (noted since the crash) which many believe is a direct consequence of the shareholder banks’ lack of interest in the real economy compared to smaller banks whose business might actually depend on lending to small businesses . For example, banks who only can lend to people within a specific geographic area.
  3. The characteristics of Quantitive Easing need to be more directed into green initiatives, the real economy and even helicopter money (the radical concept of simply giving people and businesses money to establish themselves).
  4. The link between housing and speculation needs to be snapped. Essentially the inflation that is allowed to balloon in the housing market needs to be qualified as such: inflation, which is endemically unstable and has largely negative consequences for the vast majority of the populace.
  5. Lord Adair Turner suggest that there needs to be more capital.. that is the ratio between how much a bank has in comparison to how much is lends needs to be higher. (No Shit Sherlock) For most people the fact that there isn’t a regulated ratio is mentally repellent. A videographer at a family dinner party for example… cannot convince family folk of what really happens in terms of capital vs exposure . Osborne promised such regulation in his June 2011 Chancellor Speech and yet, no regulation has transpired. Repetition in this instance was not all that promising. A critique on what the hell is stopping governmental control would be more advanced at this stage, especially from a man in his position. It was estimated at 3% once upon a time. Most now estimate that it is less than 1%. Reports by EU think tanks and the Bank of International Settlements call for it to be anywhere between 7% and 17% . Tory government promised that it would be at least 7% but have done sweet FA to see that happen. The private banks are still creating money out of debt, (digital numbers) systematically (when they approve loans) but with no governmental control. Lest we forget that if you cannot keep up your loan… the banks (who had nothing to begin with) take the non-digital, brick and mortar house plus the property its on! .It is my hope that one day this process will become known as the crime of the century. Until then all we can really do apparently is watch it happen to one poor soul after another….in the UK.
  6. Other!

It is not a theory or an opinion but a developed tool to help hold financiers accountable – NOW.


I had my personal favorites!

financelab17Neil Chandler is from Cathartic. Cathartic is an anonymous platform where anyone can share anything. They have now developed it for whistleblowing for the finance sector. By enabling employees to communicate with complete anonymity through Cathartic, real issues can be brought to the forefront and organisations can better support their workforce. ROCK ON! This appealed to me. Its a tool you know. One that is immediately available. It is not a theory or an opinion but a developed tool to help hold financiers accountable – NOW. Turns out he is a fellow of the Finance Innovation Lab.

financelab20I first heard this lady, Mariana Mazzucato reveal how much of Apple’s innovation was actually developed in the public sector, in a Ted X talk. Mariana champions the public ownership/nationalisation of the finance sector, by firstly highlighting its innovation and challenging the mantra that nothing revolutionary comes from government technological research and development and then demanding that the government maintain ownership of it so as to boost the public purse with it profits. She is a great dynamic speaker who steals the show with her point of view and her delivery.

Please stay tuned for the video. Due by 17th June
Finance Innovation Lab’s account of the day.



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