Transparency Symposium

Many thanks to Mercer for hosting this very important thought leadership event:

"Time for Transparency"

This special thought leadership event is an important step in creating a global community of ethically-minded individuals, renowned thought leaders and professionally-led organisations who believe that 'Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant' and want to harness the transformational power of transparency to fix financial services. 

About the Transparency Task Force

The Transparency Task Force is the collaborative, campaigning community, dedicated to driving up the levels of transparency in financial services, right around the world.

Members of the Transparency Task Force believe that higher levels of transparency are a pre-requisite for fairer, safer, more stable and more efficient markets being able to deliver better value for money and better outcomes to consumers. 

 

Furthermore, because of the correlation between transparency, truthfulness and trustworthiness, we expect our work will help to repair the self-inflicted reputational damage the Financial Services sector has been suffering for decades. 

'Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant'

The beautifully simple phrase 'Sunlight is the best disinfectant' sums up what the Transparency Task Force is all about. We believe that financial services market behaviour is improved when it is visible; and conversely, that behaviour that is allowed to happen ‘in the shadows’ is often at the expense of the consumer.

 

This is because, rather notoriously, the Financial Services sector has been pre-disposed to opportunistic obfuscation and opacity; it has profited from things being kept hidden from the consumer; sometimes deliberately, sometimes not - things like the true costs of investing, the true performance of products and the true risks that consumers sometimes face. 

 

Our view is that opacity leads to asymmetries of information and that's a major concern because it prevents the consumer being able to make well-informed decisions, which in turn stops the market working competitively whilst denying the consumer the chance to achieve the best possible outcome for him/herself. 

Our Strategy for Driving Change

 

The Transparency Task Force seeks to operate in a collaborative, collegiate and consensus-building way; focusing on solutions not blame. We seek to effect the change that the financial services sector needs and the consumer deserves.

 

Our strategy for driving change is to bring together two types of people:

 

#1, Those with a sense of ‘passion & purpose’ about what needs to be done – such as the thought-leader speakers at this event and the ethically-minded financial services professionals, enlightened market participants, pro-consumer campaigners and leading academics who are involved in our community; and...

 

#2, Those with the ‘power & position’ to make change happen – such as the regulators, politicians, financial services leaders, trade bodies and professional associations. 

 

The Transparency Task Force is an informal but increasingly influential forum - our strategy for driving change seems to be working very well in the UK and we are looking to become a positive influence internationally because 'opportunistic opacity and obfuscation' in financial services is a global problem.  

When and where is the Symposium?

 

From 9:00AM to 5:00PM on Thursday 28th September at:

Mercer Boston, 99 High Street, Financial District 

Boston, Massachusetts, USA:

How to secure your place

 

You can read on to learn more about the event's content and our truly first class line-up of speakers, but if you have already decided that you want to attend use 'CLICK AND REGISTER' below to secure your place.

 

If you have any difficulties making your booking please contact me through andy.agathangelou@transparencytaskforce.org

 

Please note: Whilst the Transparency Task Force is desperate to raise funds, if the Standard Ticket price of $200 is genuinely beyond your budget you can pay as little as you need to, down to just $1 if you wish; no problem and 'no questions asked'. 

 

Our rather unusual approach to pricing is because we don't want people who are genuinely interested in the power of transparency to drive the transformational change that is so desperately needed in the financial services sector being unable to attend because of cost.

 

Subject to availability (please be quick as places are limited), everybody is welcome to attend, regardless of whether they can afford to pay the full ticket price, or not. The amount you pay will not influence your seating or your status at the event in any way.

 

You can pay through PayPal, credit card or invoice.

What sort of topics will be covered?

 

Our speakers will be covering a wide range of thought-provoking hot topics such as:

 

 - The Trust Deficit and why it must be treated as a top priority

 

 - Transparency as a powerful driver for Transformational Change

 

 - Why the world needs a Global Transparency Index and what's being done to create one

 

 - The part that Opacity played in the Global Financial Crisis

 

 - The Commercial Value of Values

 

 - Transparency defined

 

 - The Correlation between Transparency, Truthfulness and Trustworthiness

 

 - A critique of the Corporate Governance paradigm

 

 - Fundamental issues with the World's Capital Markets

 

 - The significance of the Information Matrix

 

 - What haven't the Regulators done that they could?

 

 - The need for a Cultural Transfusion in Financial Services

 

 - Why Transparency?...and Why Now?

 

 - The damage caused by Asymmetries of Information

 

 - Why Transparency alone can never be enough

 

 - Who/what is preventing the pursuit of Best Interest outcomes?

 

 -  The latest developments on the Fiduciary Rule

 

 - Financial freedom through transparency and authenticity

 

 - The enormous challenge ahead for retirement planning in the USA ; and what steps could be taken to alleviate it.

Who are your speakers?

Richard Field,

Director,

Institute for Financial Transparency

 

"The Information Matrix and saving the global financial system"

 

 

Using a physical securities model and the Information Matrix, we will begin by defining what financial transparency means and explain its role in the global financial system.  

 

Next, we will look at the global financial crisis and use the Information Matrix to understand why reliance on regulations and regulatory enforcement didn’t prevent the last crisis and won’t prevent another crisis.  

 

We will conclude by looking at what investors can do not only to prevent another crisis from occurring, but more importantly to protect themselves from being taken advantage of by Wall Street.

 

Richard Field is the Director of the Institute for Financial Transparency, an organization focused on bringing valuation transparency to all the opaque corners of the financial system and the sponsor of the Transparency Label InitiativeTM.

 

Since the mid-90s, he has been a leader in defining and implementing transparency in the structured finance industry.

Mr. Field designed, developed and patented a low cost information system to handle all of the complexity involved in making each structured finance security transparent. His solution uses a data warehouse to provide all market participants with easily accessible, standardized collateral level data on an observable event basis over the life of each deal.

 

In April 2008, Mr. Field wrote a Learning Curve column for Total Securitization that described the gold standard for transparency for structured finance securities. Subsequently, he  consulted with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners on their July 2012 white paper on financing home ownership. In both of these widely read publications, he discussed the need for both timely disclosure of the underlying collateral performance information and the use of a data warehouse to capture, standardize and disseminate this data.

 

Apparently, while his call for timely disclosure was ignored, his call for the use of a data warehouse was heard.  In Europe, the European Central Bank championed the creation of the EU Data Warehouse to provide transparency into structured finance securities.  In the U.S., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are in the process of building this data warehouse for residential mortgage-backed securities. It is called the Common Securitization Solutions LLC.  About these two data warehouses, Mr. Field remarked, as the beaver said to the rabbit looking down on the Hoover Dam, “I didn’t build it all by myself, but it is based on an idea of mine.”

 

Earlier in his career, he worked as an Assistant Vice President for First Bank System and as a Research Assistant at the Federal Reserve Board. Mr. Field has an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from Yale University.

 

Also, Mr. Field is the author of 'Transparency Games:  How Bankers Rig the World of Finance'.

Our next two speakers - Stephen Davis and Jon Lukomnik are two of the three authors of What They Do With Your Money: How the Financial System Fails Us and How to Fix It.

They will be presenting jointly:

Stephen Davis,

Associate Director and

Senior Fellow,

Programs on Corporate Governance and Institutional Investors, Harvard Law School

 

"Voting records, 'nutrition statements' and alignment of interests"

 

This session will consider 3 key questions that can open the door to greater governance and drive better outcomes:

 

 - What has been the transformative effect on mutual fund voting of the US NPX rule, which made voting records public?

 

 - What can be done to provide savers with the financial equivalent of a nutrition statement?

 

 - Why is it neccessary to further align investment agents with grassroots investors through real-time disclosure of voting and engagement?

 

Stephen Davis, Ph.D. is associate director of the Harvard Law School Programs on Corporate Governance and Institutional Investors, and a senior fellow at the Program on Corporate Governance. He has also been a nonresident senior fellow in governance at the Brookings Institution. 

 

From 2007-2012 he was executive director of the Yale School of Management’s Millstein Center for Corporate Governance and Performance and Lecturer on the SOM faculty. Davis served on the US SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee. He is a trustee of ShareAction and was for nine years chair and a board member of Hermes EOS, the shareowner engagement arm of Hermes Pensions Management.

 

Davis was also co-director of the Brookings’ World Forum on Governance. Winner of the 2011 ICGN Award for Excellence in Corporate Governance, Davis is co-author of What They Do With Your Money: How the Financial System Fails Us and How to Fix It (Yale University Press, 2016) and The New Capitalists: How Citizen Investors are Reshaping the Corporate Agenda (Harvard Business School Press, 2006).

 

His Shareholder Rights Abroad: A Handbook for the Global Investor (1989) was the first study comparing corporate governance practices in top markets. Davis is a co-founder of the International Corporate Governance Network and co-author of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment. Davis earned his doctorate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and completed undergraduate studies at Tufts and the London School of Economics.

Jon Lukomnik,

Executive Director,

Investor Responsibility Research Institute

 

“Transparency Is Not Enough: Why We Need To Focus on Comprehension and Purpose”

 

This talk draws on decades of personal experience to show that transparency, even total transparency, can obfuscate, rather than enlighten.

As a result, we’ll understand how to combine the disinfectant properties of sunshine with stronger medicine to result in not just transparency, but also comprehension and purpose. 

 

Forbes calls Jon Lukomnik one of the pioneers of modern corporate governance.  Jon serves as executive director of the IRRC Institute, whose research has been widely praised for objectively examining fundamental corporate governance and capital market issues. He is also the managing partner of Sinclair Capital LLC, a strategic consultancy to asset owners and asset managers. He co-founded the International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN) and GovernanceMetrics International (now part of MSCI), and served as interim chair of the Council of Institutional Investors’ executive committee.

 

Jon served as investment advisor for New York City’s pension funds in the 1990s and has invested or overseen more than $100 billion in institutional assets during his career. He has been a director for various public companies, private companies, not-for-profit corporations and litigation trusts. He has consulted to major institutional investors with aggregate assets of more than half a trillion dollars including the New York State Common Retirement Fund, Maryland State Retirement and Pension System, Nikko Asset Management, International Finance Corporation, Legg Mason, and Savings Bank Life Insurance USA.

 

Jon currently serves as a trustee for the Van Eck mutual fund complex in the United States and related investment trusts in Ireland, as a member of the Standing Advisory Committee for the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, and on Deloitte’s Audit Quality Advisory Committee. He was a member of the official creditors committee which rehabilitated WorldCom following its fraud and bankruptcy.

Preston McSwain,

Managing Partner & Founder,

Fiduciary Wealth Partners

 

(Title of talk and synopsis to be added soon).

 

Preston McSwain is a Managing Partner and Founder of Fiduciary Wealth Partners and the firm’s Chief Investment Officer.

Prior to founding Fiduciary Wealth Partners, Preston founded SJM Fiduciary Advisors, which he grew to over $1 billion in assets under advisory before re-branding the firm. Fiduciary Wealth Partners is the successor to SJM.

 

Preston is a frequent speaker on wealth management, investment and fiduciary topics and is a regular writer and contributor to financial publications such as IRIS, WealthManagement.com, Trust & Estates magazine, TheStreet.com, Institutional Investor and the CFA Institute. In addition, he has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News, Barron's and the Financial Times.

 

Previously, Preston held a number of senior leadership positions at investment management and trust companies, including serving as a Managing Director of Neuberger Berman, where he founded the Private Asset Management Division in New England.  After Neuberger was acquired by Lehman Brothers, he helped lead the growth of the firm’s investment consulting and trust businesses and received the Chairman’s Award given to only the top 50 senior professionals of the organization worldwide.  Earlier in his career Preston founded a Trust Company for a regional bank and assisted in the launch of a bank mutual fund division.  He started his career at State Street Bank & Trust.

Preston is a leader of many not-for-profit organizations including serving on the Board of The Pioneer Institute, on the Board of Overseers of the Peabody Essex Museum, as the Treasurer of Church of the Redeemer in Chestnut Hill and as a founder of Boston Preparatory Charter Public School.  He is also a member of the Economic Club of New York.

Preston received a B.S. in Finance with a concentration in Investment Management from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he received the Outstanding Alumni Award from the school of business in 2006.

Andrew D. Esctruth,

Associate Director for External Relations,

Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

 

 

 

"Falling Short: The Coming Retirement Crisis

and How to Prevent It"

 

Today’s workers face a brewing retirement income crisis.  Economic and demographic changes have transformed the retirement landscape, systematically shifting risk and responsibility away from government and employers to individuals.  As a result, about half of working-age households are “at risk” of being unable to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living in retirement. 

 

Fortunately, we have the tools to fix the problem by building on the existing retirement system.  The specific solutions are to work longer, save more, and make more effective use of assets such as home equity. 

 

The sooner we act, the easier it will be to shore up the nation’s retirement security; and the quicker the financial system is seen to be transparent and trustworthy, the greater the chance that the retirement income crisis can be avoided.

 

Andrew Eschtruth is associate director for external relations at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.  He directs the Center’s communication activities, including publications, press relations, and social media.  Mr. Eschtruth also manages relationships with the government, foundation, and corporate communities, and speaks to a variety of audiences on retirement-related topics. 

 

He is the co-author (with Charles D. Ellis and Alicia H. Munnell) of Falling Short: The Coming Retirement Crisis and What to Do About It (Oxford University Press, 2014).

 

Before joining the Center in 1999, Mr. Eschtruth was a senior research analyst with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) specializing in Social Security, federal fiscal policy, and the economic implications of an aging population.  While at the GAO, Mr. Eschtruth served on a special assignment as an aide to the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.  Mr. Eschtruth earned his B.A. from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Knut A. Rostad,

Co-Founder and President,

Institute for the Fiduciary Standard

 

(Title of talk and synopsis 

to be added soon).

 

Knut A. Rostad is the co-founder and president of the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard, a nonprofit formed in 2011 to advance the fiduciary standard. Previously Rostad served as the regulatory and compliance officer at Rembert Pendleton Jackson, an investment adviser in Falls Church, Virginia.

 

Institute research, education and advocacy programs advance fiduciary duties in advisor - client relationships of trust. The Institute spear-headed the John C. Bogle Legacy Forum; established “Fiduciary September”, the Frankel Fiduciary Prize and Campaign for Investors and the Best Practices Affirmation Program. See www.thefiduciaryinstitute.org

 

Rostad has authored numerous articles, papers and comment letters to the SEC and DOL and been cited in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and Reuters.

 

Rostad edited The Man in the Arena: Vanguard Founder John C. Bogle and His Lifelong Battle to Serve Investors First, by Wiley, about which the CFA commented: “This compilation of John C. Bogle’s essays on indexing, fiduciary responsibility, and corporate governance, together with transcripts of talks and discussions, is a fitting tribute to the founder of the Vanguard Group, who has consistently advocated putting clients’ interests first and has tirelessly imparted the message that investors would be far wealthier if they invested in low-cost index funds….The world would be a better place if more of our business and political leaders emulated John Bogle’s values, ethics, and integrity.”

 

Rostad earned a BA in Political Science at the University of Vermont and an MBA from the Norwegian School of Management. 

KEYNOTE SPEECH:

 

George Kinder,

Founder,

The Kinder Institute

of Life Planning

 

"How to Create a Golden Civilization for a Thousand Generations"

 

Transparency is essential but where does it take us, where are we going? Are markets efficient when the focus is on numbers and money, or when they focus on freedom? Is fiduciary about the client, or about their money? Kinder will talk about the mindfulness based global financial advice movement known as Life Planning, how it delivers to clients freedom and entrepreneurial endeavor, and how it is hampered by financial services’ lack of transparency.

 

He will introduce new economic concepts and close with the question: Is it possible to establish a sustainable institutional mindset that models integrity and delivers freedom where Integrity blossoms into Authenticity?

 

George Kinder is a Harvard educated economist, philosopher, financial planner, Buddhist teacher, and the founder of the Kinder Institute of Life Planning, a network of over three thousand financial advisers on six continents trained to inspire consumers to recognize and achieve their lives of greatest meaning.

 

The recipient of many financial industry awards including the first ever Heart of Financial Planning Distinguished Service Award from the 29,000 member Financial Planning Association, he was recently named the first of the fifteen most transformational financial advisers whose vision most changed the financial planning industry.

 

George’s expertise has been widely featured in the press across six continents including The New York Times, Forbes Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Time Magazine, Fortune, NPR, and many others.

Andy Agathangelou, 

Founding Chair,

Transparency Task Force

 

Andy will be Chairing the Symposium. His overall objective is to galvanise support for the idea that greater transparency can be a driver for transformational change in the USA, just as it has been in the UK.

 

Andy formed the Transparency Task Force following a meeting he led at Senate House, University of London on 6th May 2015. The meeting was about how the Financial Services sector seems to have a pre-disposition to reputational self harm, through displaying untrustworthy behaviour; and the part that greater transparency could play in fixing some aspects of what is wrong in financial services. Andy believes that 'opacity is a festering sore on the face of financial services' and that 'sunlight is the best disinfectant'. 

 

Since 6th May 2015 and without any backing he has recruited, organised and mobilised over 250 volunteers around the world into 9 Teams: 

 

 - The Banking Team

 - The Foreign Exchange Team

 - The Market Integrity Team

 - The Costs & Charges Team

 - The Stewardship & Decision-Making Team

 - The Scams & Scandals Team

 - The International Best Practice Team

 - Team PAM (Progressive Asset Managers)

 - Team PISCES (Purpose; Impact Investing; Sustainability;  Corporate Social Responsibility; Environment, Social & Governance; Socially-Responsible Investing)

 

The 9 Teams are the 'engine room' of the Transparency Task Force's work. Each Team is focused on a particular set of opacity-related challenges whereby subject-matter experts work together on a completely voluntary basis to develop and implement strategies to overcome those challenges.

 

Having led 11 Transparency Symposia in London Andy is now taking the 'Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant' message overseas, looking for like-minded individuals and exemplary organisations to become part of a collaborative, campaigning community that will act as a a 'force for good' around the world, through harnessing the transformational power of transparency. 

 

Andy is also:

 

  • Founding Chair, the Technology Task Force
  • Chair, the Interoperability Steering Group
  • Governor, Pensions Policy Institute
  • Fellow, the RSA
  • Chair, Pensions BIB,
  • Member, Investment Association Advisory Board on Cost Disclosure
  • Former Founding Chair, Friends of Auto Enrolment
  • Former Founding Chair, Friends of the Association of Member Nominated Trustees

Who should attend?

 

This event will appeal to a very broad range of people including:

 

 - Economists

 - Asset Managers

 - Investment Consultants

 - Retail and Institutional Investors

 - Industry Observers, Commentators, the Media in general

 - Academics and Researchers

 - Financial Planners

 - Campaign and Civil Society Groups

 - NGOs

 - Politicians and their research colleagues

 - Policymakers

 - Fiduciaries, Trustees, Fiduciary Managers 

 - Members of the Department of Labor

 - Bankers and representatives of Banking organisations

 - Risk Management Professionals

 - Compliance Professionals

 - Legal Professionals

 - Pension Professionals

 - Enlightened and progressive market participants 

 - Actuaries; and many more....

How to secure your place

 

Please use 'CLICK AND REGISTER' below to secure your place. If you have any difficulties making your booking contact us through andy.agathangelou@transparencytaskforce.org

 

Remember - pay $200 if you can afford to, less if you can't, it's entirely up to you what you pay; you're very welcome to attend regardless of what you pay subject to a minimum of just $1. 

 

You can pay through PayPal, credit card or invoice. 

 

Thank you!

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