This event has now taken place.

If you wish to download the slides scroll to the bottom of the page. 

Many thanks to

for hosting:

"Time for Transparency:

Hot Topics

in the Investments Space"

When and where is the symposium?

 

Tuesday 10th March:

 

We start with registration, lunch and networking at 12:00; the meeting proper starts at 13:00, ends at 17:00; followed by drinks and further networking through to 18:00. 

 

Lansons,

24A St John St, Clerkenwell  
London EC1M 4AY

If you already know you want to attend

 

Click on the button below to secure your place and note that there are 4 ticket options: Standard, For TTF Fellows, Discounted and Press Pass. The notes you get to will explain the ticket options.

 

Queries to andy.agathangelou@transparencytaskforce.org

 

Thank you!

What can you expect at the symposium?

 

The overall purpose of this symposium is to shine a bright light onto the most important issues facing the investments sector; and to explore ideas that can improve outcomes for investors, whilst hopefully helping to repair the reputational damage that parts of the investment market have been suffering for years.

 

This is all in keeping with TTF’s mission to help fix what’s wrong in financial services, so consumers get a better deal; and trust and confidence can be restored. You can expect to be amongst progressively minded and collaboratively minded people who are keen to explore how the investment sector should be reformed for the better.

 

We already know that the financial services sector as a whole has a significant reputation problem - the key takeaway from the Edelman Trust Barometer is:

 

“…at 57 percent trust among the general population, financial services remain the least-trusted sector measured by the Trust Barometer.”

 

…and that’s obviously a major issue for a sector that has to be trusted to function succesfully.

 

Clearly, the many governance failures that have occurred in the investment market over the years have contributed to the financial services trust deficit; and the evidence indicates that this isn’t a problem that is going to fix itself. 

 

On the basis that “progress begins with realism” we will be facilitating the kind of candid yet constructive discussions that are needed to help move matters forward.

 

We are expecting this to be a particularly lively symposium because we will be creating a forum for people to “say it as they see it” and there is no doubt that many people are disappointed with the investment sector’s slow progress towards a state of trustworthiness. 

 

We’ll be dealing with a range of issues such as…

 

Matters relating to Regulation:

  • How effective has financial regulation been so far? Is the apparent increase in the frequency of failure a reality or just a perception?
  • Are the powerful Trade Bodies having too much influence on regulation, policymaking and governance; and if so, what needs to change?
  • What difference is the Senior Managers & Certification Regime going to make in practice? Will the Regulators be unable to prevent the system being gamed? 
  • Do iNEDs herald genuine cultural change in fund boards or, will this regulatory intervention be gamed, thereby allowing the unsatisfactory state of affairs to continue? Will INEDs be tokenistic gestures towards client-centricity or might they actually realise their potential as consumer champions?
  • The harsh reality is that the sagas and scandals relating to cases such as Woodford and London Capital & Finance, are the latest of a very long list of issues that have caused significant reputational damage for the financial services sector. How could what happened have happened, despite decades of regulatory interventions designed to protect consumers from harm? Have the regulators have been “asleep at the wheel”?
  • Regulators are often criticised for being “behind the curve” and “always putting out the last fire.” What more can the regulators do to anticipate trends and become more proactive? Given the achingly long times it has taken regulators to deal with, for example LIBOR, RBS GRG, PPI and so on, the evidence seems to suggest they are operating under constraints. Do they have the capabilities, resource and powers they need to be fully effective? 
  • Are the concerns about deficiencies in the Financial Conduct Authority's Regulatory Perimeter justified?
  • To what extent are flawed incentive structures to blame for poor conduct and ineffective governance in the investment sector?
  • What can be done to advance the cause for organisations having more of a multi-stakeholder perspective to their purpose? What role is there for user boards and similar entities with real influence and an authentic pro-consumer agenda to boost engagement and as a consequence governance? 
  • Does the voting system at AGMs actually work? - is a lack of authenticity and diversity at AGMs part of the problem? Are the votes in the hands of the right people, i.e. the asset owners and end beneficiaries rather than “institutional agents” 
  • Ultimately, are all extrinsic efforts through regulation always destined to fail? Is what is really needed a values-based, intrinsic approach? If so, how can the kind of cultural transfusion that would be necessary be made possible? 
  • Is the present approach to investment market regulation outdated, fundamentally flawed and in need of a root-and branch overhaul? – should a Best Interests Duty/Fiduciary Duty/Duty of Care be introduced?
  • Does the competition prerequisite for capitalism to work in the interests of consumers break down at the point that market over-concentration forms? Do we need stronger pro-competition policies to ensure the free market works not just efficiently but also fairly?
  • Asset Manager Remuneration; does the FCA 2017 Code go far enough?
  • Noting the FCA/BoE review in relation to Liquidity Suitability - what now needs to change in open ended funds?

Matters relating to Costs and Charges:

  • Are asset managers finding ways to evade transparency under MIFID II and PRIIPs; and if so, is that unprofessional “opportunistic opacity” on their part; or a necessary, innocent and pragmatic response to the shortcomings of the regulations?
  • Are any organisations failing to comply with the rules that are already in place; if so, which ones?
  • Where has the Cost Transparency Initiative got to? – is it stuck in the long grass?
  • Are retail investors getting the clear and intelligible information they need and deserve? If not, what (or perhaps even who?) is preventing that from happening?
  • What are the Trade Bodies and Professional Associations doing to protect the interests of consumers in relation to costs/charges? – is there a tension between them doing that effectively whilst also caring for the commercial interests of their members?
  • Is it safe to assume that the costs data disclosed is going to be accurate; or should there be independent data verification?
  • Will we ever get to “one single figure” to represent costs? - could we ever have "one single figure" to represent value for money?
  • Are we there yet on costs and charges transparency? If not, why not? - Who/what is stopping it from happenning?

 

Matters relating to Ad Valorem v Performance Fees:

  • What are the relative merits?
  • Is the Ad Valorem fee model becoming obsolete?
  • Do Performance Fees truly reward performance?
  • Are performance fee arrangements gaining traction because they better-align with clients’ interests and can claim they deliver superior value for money?

 

Matters relating to Brexit:

  • Does anybody know what is actually going to happen for the Asset Management, Pensions, Private Equity and Hedge Fund Sectors, once the Transition Period is over?
  • Is Brexit going to be a game-changer?
  • What are the threats and opportunities created by Brexit?
  • Who will be the winners and losers?

 

Matters relating to Technology:

  • What are the transformational changes being driven by Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Fintech?
  • What will these powerful forces of change mean in terms of client offerings and value for money?
  • How will they impact employment opportunities in the sector moving forward?
  • What systemic risks might be lurking within the investment world if we become overly dependent on Big Data and Algo's?
  • Can tech be a saviour to active management? - or will passive be the primary beneficiary?

 

Matters relating to the Active v Passive Debate

 

For some, the active/passive debate is already over. They look to the actual average after-cost outcomes during the past decade and argue that the low cost of Passive and the availability of technology to improve “smart” passive strategies means the excess return required to choose active over passive is too high to make active a rational selection. This alone goes a long way to explain the profound progress that passive has been making in terms of grabbing market share since the mid-seventies.

 

But is the evidence actually as conclusive as that?

 

Should we be mindful of the idea that “whenever everyone is certain of one thing, to beware that one thing.” As part of the market seem to have shifted into near unanimous certainty that passive is superior to active, perhaps there is wisdom in rethinking what the long-term consequence of that view might be; and whether that view is fundamentally correct in the first place. Is it possible that the active/passive battle isn’t as straightforward and clear-cut as might initially seem? - particularly to those that have been myopically concerned with just the issues relating to costs?

 

Our symposium will facilitate an intelligent debate to explore the active/passive pros and cons. We’ll be considering questions such as: 

  • Is the though leadership on this topic still as tribalistic and divisive as it has been in the past? – or are the more balanced and nuanced perspectives starting to shine through?
  • What does the latest evidence show in terms of market shares of inflows?
  • Are active managers succesfully embracing ESG as a way to deliver better outcomes?
  • Will passive always harness the transformational power of technology more effectively than active? - and if so, is it a foregone conclusion that technology, particularly AI will dominate the landscape moving forward? Will clever algorithms always trump creativity, high-conviction and investment artisanship? 
  • Is it true that there are systemic risks associated with the more opaque aspects of passives that most people are blind to? For example, would clearing the opacity around the role and functionality of Authorised Participants reveal a significant amount of phantom liquidity? …and if so, could a run of large-scale redemptions, perhaps triggered by a substantial market movement, causing mayhem in the markets, destabilising ETFs and potentially even jeopardising the integrity of the world’s capital markets?
  • Does passive win the value-for-money debate hands-down? Is it just a matter of time before it’s game over for active management because of cost drag?
  • Or, regardless of any cost differential, is active the best way to go anyway because of the severe risk of climate change catastrophe that we are all facing? As many schoolchildren put it recently, “We don’t have a planet B”. Perhaps through careful and thoughtful stock selection, active management is much better equipped to influence corporate governance; and is therefore better suited to building a more progressive society as we hopefully transition from a shareholder primacy economy to a more planet-friendly stakeholder primacy economy?
  • Is it correct that successful active funds eventually and inevitably become a victim of their own success, on the basis that "you can't scale skill?" Does alpha always morph into beta eventually; and if so, does that mean sustainable superior net performance is mathematically very unlikely?
  • For a given level of outperformance, how long must we wait before we can distinguish statistically the performance of an active fund from a passive benchmark? Can successful active managers actually prove their success is due to skill rather than luck?

 

Matters relating to the Pricing of Externalities

  • What needs to happen for the investment market to properly and fully price in externalities relating to climate change?
  • How is the investment sector going to handle the increasingly problematic issue of greenwashing?
  • Is there a moral basis for demanding that investment clients should be told which companies the funds they are investing in are holding?

The underlying question the event will seek to answer is:

 

“What will the Asset Management, Pensions, Private Equity and Hedge Fund sectors look like 5 years from now,

and why?”

 

We don’t think any one person or organisation has all the answers; and we also think that all answers are worth listening to, so if you’ve got a point of view that you’d like to share, this is definitely an event for you. 

 

That’s because our symposium is going to create a first-class opportunity for a wide range of stakeholders interested in the advancement of the investment sector and ensuring that investors get the outcomes they deserve.

Here's the programme, so far*

 

12:00 

Registration, lunch and networking

 

13:00

Welcome to the symposium and setting the scene by

 - David Masters, Partner & Director, Lansons; Member of the Board of Advisers, Transparency Task Force; former Analyst, Standard & Poors, Boston; former Analyst, Micropal.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidmasters

 

 - and Andy Agathangelou, Founder, Transparency Task Force; Governor, Pensions Policy Institute; former Founding Chair, Friends of Automatic Enrolment; former Founding Chair, Association of Member Nominated Trustees.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/andy-agathangelou-02953113/

 

13:30

Presentation #1

 - Graeme Dewar, Chief Executive Officer, MarketBeta, former Head of Strategy Implementation and Head of ETF Business, Legal & General Investment Management; former Head of Equity Derivative Sales, JP Morgan; former Portfolio Manager & Strategist, Barclays Global Investors (now BlackRocK).

https://www.linkedin.com/in/graemedewar

 

13:50

Presentation #2

 - Andrew Mills, Director & Founder, Insight Financial Research, former Assistant Director, Financial Services, PWC; former Senior Auditor, Arthur Andersen.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrew-mills-700107a

 

14:10

Presentation #3

 - Neil Liversidge, Managing Director, West Riding Personal Financial Solutions; former Director, Association of Professional Financial Advisers; former Investment Analyst, Sesame Services Ltd.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/neilfliversidge

 

14:30

Presentation #4

- David Masters, Partner & Director, Lansons; Member of the Board of Advisers, Transparency Task Force; former Analyst, Standard & Poors, Boston; former Analyst, Micropal.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidmasters

 

14:50

Presentation of the Transparency Trophy; a special trophy is awarded to a champion of transparency and finance reform at each of our symposia around the world

 

14:55

Refreshments and further networking

 

15:25

Team photo, with the Transparency Trophy and its winner

 

15:30

Power Panel leading into Open Discussion & Debate on:

 

“Hot Topics in the Investment Space”

 

Panellists:

 

 - Lesley Curwen, BBC Broadcaster; Financial Journalist; former News Reporter and Presenter; Radio 1 Newsbeat. 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/lesleycurwen

 

 - Alister Sneddon, Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer, Genuine Impact; former Product Manager, JHC; former Partnership Technical Manager, MoneyFarm.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/alister-sneddon

 

 - Sital Cheema, Founder, Jaanu Sustainable Investment Consulting; Steering Group Member, BSI Sustainable Investment Management Standards Project; former Associate Director, Client Strategy & Research, Russell Investments.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sitalcheema

 

 - Sue Lewis, Trustee Director, The People’s Pension; former Chair, The FCA’s Financial Services Consumer Panel; Consumer Advocate Member, Professional Standards Board, Chartered Insurance Institute.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sue-lewis-a728286

 

 - Louise Wilkinson, Forensic Cost Accountant, RPMI Railpen

https://uk.linkedin.com/in/louise-wilkinson-47670a1a0

 

16:50

Key conclusions and close to the formal proceedings

Andy Agathangelou, Founder, Transparency Task Force; Governor, Pensions Policy Institute; former Founding Chair, Friends of Automatic Enrolment; former Founding Chair, Association of Member Nominated Trustees.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/andy-agathangelou-02953113/

 

17:00

Drinks, nibbles and networking

 

18:00

Final close

*The programme will continuously evolve so is subject to change

To secure your place:

Click on the button below to secure your place and note that there are 4 ticket options: Standard, For TTF Fellows, Discounted and Press Pass. The notes you get to will explain the ticket options.

 

Queries to andy.agathangelou@transparencytaskforce.org

 

Thank you!

Further information about the TTF

 

You can click on the button below to read about the 150+ Transparency Task Force Ambassadors. The list includes world class academics and highly respected thought leaders from right around the world. 

You can click on the button below to read about the Transparency Task Force Advisory Board, which is Chaired by the former Chair of the Financial Conduct Authority's Financial Services Consumer Panel.

If you want to read testimonials...

 

If you haven't been to one of our events before you can use the link below to read some testimonials:

To secure your place:

Click on the button below to secure your place and note that there are 4 ticket options: Standard, For TTF Fellows, Discounted and Press Pass. The notes you get to will explain the ticket options.

 

Queries to andy.agathangelou@transparencytaskforce.org

 

Thank you!

Slides used at 10th March symposium
TS London March 10th Investment PDF.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [1.7 MB]

The Great Divide

You can read the speech by  Andrew G. Haldane, FAcSS (the Bank of England's Chief Economist and Executive Director of Monetary Analysis and Statistics) that he gave on 18th May 2016 at the New City Agenda Annual dinner.

 

The speech is entitled The Great Divide and it is a first class explanation of why the trust deficit really matters and why it makes sense to try to do something about it.

 

Please click on the green button to access it; if you're not convinced of its relevance to our initiative, here's part of it:

 

..."The most important and compelling message the Bank received at the Open Forum came in the first session. The Bank had conducted some polling of perceptions of the financial sector – for example, by asking people what one word best described the future of financial markets. Among the Bank’s usual contacts, including those in the financial sector, the most used word was “regulated”. Many of us will have heard that message from financial insiders concerned about the perils of over-zealous regulators.

 

For me, the more revealing responses came from the general public, from the customers, rather than the producers, of financial services. The word most used by them when describing financial markets was a rather different one: it was “corrupt”. Not far behind were words like “manipulated”, “self-serving”, “destructive” and “greedy”. I am sure many of you have heard those messages too. They are certainly ones I have encountered frequently on my visits around the country."...

 

Please click the green button  below to access the full speech. If you need to read another piece first, here it is:

 

..."At least until recently many economists like me, when faced with this evidence, might have shrugged our shoulders. Social capital had no real role in our models of economic growth, unlike physical capital and human capital. Trust did not butter our parsnips and nor did it enter our production functions.

 

Recently, however, that orthodoxy has changed and the importance of trust has become clearer.

 

Evidence has emerged, both micro and macro, to suggest trust may play a crucial role in value creation. At the micro level, there is now ample evidence the degree of trust or social capital within a company contributes positively to its value creation capacity. 

 

At the macro level, there is now a strong body of evidence, looking across a large range of countries and over long periods of time, that high levels of trust and co-operation are associated with higher economic growth.

 

Put differently, a lack of trust jeopardises one of finance’s key societal functions – higher growth.

 

Those social capital effects appear to be particularly potent when it comes to financial decisions. Evidence suggests that a lack of trust leads people to retreat from the stock market and banks and to move towards cash holdings and informal sources of credit, such as payday lenders and loan sharks. That jeopardises the second key benefit of finance to society – improved risk-sharing by households and companies.

 

So a lack of trust in finance potentially hobbles both economic growth and financial stability.

 

That lack of trust is the mirror-image of the perception gap between the financial sector and wider society, the Great Divide.

 

The Great Divide matters because it signals a pronounced and protracted erosion of social capital. It puts finance on notice for losing its social licence. And, unaddressed, that jeopardises future wealth and well-being."...

 

Please click on the green button to access the full speech. If you're not yet convinced you should, here's a final snippet:

 

..." As a survey in 2013 of financial professionals found, rather remarkably, that over half believed their competitors engaged in illegal or unethical behaviour.  A smaller, but still high, fraction of 24% believed their own company engaged in such practices. Similar percentages believed their industry did not fulfil its fiduciary function of putting clients’ interests first.

The significance of these findings is not the precise percentages, as striking as these are.

 

More fundamentally, it is because of what they reveal about finance’s perception of itself, the mirror it holds to the social identity of finance."...

 

Click onto the button below to access the full speech; you'll be glad you did, it's profoundly thought-provoking for anybody interested in the future of the financial services industry:

If you are not already on the right page and want to read about our major international project to help rebuild trustworthiness and confidence in financial services, click on the orange button below:

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