The TTF Chapters Initiative

The Status of this Initiative

 

The TTF Chapters Initiative is at pre-launch stage. We are gathering thoughts and ideas about how best to implement the initiative and we are extremely grateful for the first class input already received.

 

We are keen to continue to receive input on this initiative from anybody with an interest in helping the TTF fulfils its potential as a force for good in financial services.

 

Background and Objectives

 

The TTF continues to grow, as evidenced by the number of members; the number of different projects and events we are involved with; and our geographical reach, which is becoming truly international.

 

Whilst very positive, our growth does create some operational challenges which highlight the need for change. 

 

The main challenges are:

  • We are struggling to cope with the level of interest we are generating around the world and we are unable to deliver the number of meetings there is demand for
  • If we do not have regular meetings where TTF is becoming active, there is a risk that the momentum that is built at the meetings is lost between one meeting and the next
  • We have a very UK-specific perspective and cannot easily appreciate and embrace the issues that are particularly important in each non-UK location we are becoming active

These realities have led us to consider the following questions:

  • How can we most efficiently ensure that the TTF community continues to grow and momentum is increased, not lost?
  • How can we empower the individuals who are joining our community that want to help drive and lead progress to do so?
  • How should we build an international network of actively engaged members within a sufficiently robust and resilient governance framework that ensures our reputational integrity and values are maintained
  • How should we grow efficiently and effectively, fully harnessing the goodwill and energies of individuals that want to volunteer to help the cause, without any individual volunteer having unreasonable expectations placed upon them?

 

The TTF Strategy for Driving Change

 

The TTF exists to help reform financial services, so consumers get a better deal and trust and confidence in the system can be restored. To make positive change happen, our work must go far beyond just describing the problems and considering how they can be solved; it must actually move onto initiating and managing the change we want to see.

 

With this in mind, we have developed a strategy for driving change that seems to be working well.

 

We describe it as follows:

 

The TTF strategy for driving change is all about bringing together the thinking of two groups:

 

- #1, those with a sense of passion & purpose about what needs to change; such as the members of our Special Interest Groups and our Ambassadors

 

- #2, those with the power & position to make change happen; such as the politicians, policymakers, regulators, leaders of key trade bodies and professional associations, leaders of key commercial organisations and so on. 

 

Ultimately, we believe the extent to which we are able to drive positive, progressive and purposeful finance reform will be a function of how well we implement our strategy for driving change.

 

There are many key success factors that will determine our success. They include the quantity and calibre of those we have in the “passion and purpose” group. Whilst that group has grown rapidly, we really are just “scratching the surface” in terms of its potential size. 

 

The objective of the Chapters initiative is essentially to better organise, motivate and grow the “passion and purpose” group so that we are better able to achieve our objectives.

 

An Outline Silhouette of the Chapters Initiative

 

The notes that follow provide a rough outline of how we believe the organisation structure can most effectively be changed, based upon the feedback and ideas kindly received so far.

 

We know from the dialogue we have already had, that there is an abundance of enthusiasm for TTF to grow by creating an international network of Chapters. That’s very exciting and positive but we are alert to the risks and challenges accompanying such change and growth, particularly in relation to how we should create a robust governance framework that ensures the Chapters always operate “true to mission” and that work is coordinated, consistent and not duplicated unnecessarily.

 

As you see, the notes that follow are in rough bullet-point format.

 

They will continue to be finessed as we receive and absorb further feedback and ideas: 

  • 8 TTF Chapter Leaders per City in which we are to have a Chapter
  • Equal status amongst the Chapter Leaders
  • Each Chapter Leader to make a firm and clear commitment to help lead the Chapter in a manner that keeps it "true to mission." This commitment to be along the lines of "The Chapter Leader's Promise" 
  • The 8 Leaders to “Buddy Up” and operate as 4 pairs
  • Once we have 8 suitable TTF Chapter Leaders in the corresponding City, Chapters to be launched in Dublin, Amsterdam, Zurich, Brussels, Washington DC, New York, Boston, Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore i.e. all the non-UK places in which we have already held meetings
  • We anticipate launching other Chapters once we have held meetings in other cities.
  • The overall purpose of the TTF Chapters is to grow the TTF community and galvanise support for driving positive, progressive and purposeful finance reform
  • We hope and anticipate the Chapters will attract people who have a “let’s figure out what’s wrong and fix it” mindset; people that want to be “part of the solution”
  • The Chapters will create opportunities for people to discuss relevant issues, network and socialise
  • The “vibe” is to be relaxed, informal and friendly; we are building a community where camaraderie matters because through that we get to consensus; and through consensus we get to potential impact
  • The Chapters will provide insight and understanding to “TTF HQ” on the issues that matter to each Chapter and its members
  • Quarterly meetings; the 8 Chapter Leaders take it in turn to run a meeting; one pair at a time, creating 4 Chapter meetings per year
  • Free to join the Chapter and TTF; but all members that meet certain criteria are to be invited to join the optional subscription model that we are developing for those that want to become Fellows of the Transparency Task Force
  • Meetings to be at either 0730, ending at 0900; or 1200, ending at 1330; or 1800, ending at 1930. By having breakfast, lunchtime and early evening meetings they will not cut into normal working time too much
  • Attendees pay for any food and drink they may consume; no mark-up. This is a similar model to what has been used successfully by many community groups
  • No presentations; just facilitated conversation, discussion, debate, led by the pair of Chapter Leaders who will help set the agenda
  • Topics to always be in keeping with what the TTF is all about
  • Roughly 60 minutes of facilitated discussion and debate; followed by 30 minutes of “Any other Business” and networking.
  • The facilitated discussion and debate part of the agenda to include “Standing Agenda Items” that always get covered plus anything the Chapter Leaders wish to add. 
  • Standing Agenda Items are to be decided and but could include:
    • Introductions
    • Matters relating to TTF’s Special Interest Groups – news, ideas, challenges, requests for help and input
    • Ideas for Outreach and TTF Community growth
    • Ideas for campaign activity
    • News from within the local and adjacent Chapters
    • News from the wider TTF international community
    • “Question(s) for the Quarter” to lead into facilitated discussion on a topical issue
    • Relevant Regulatory Developments
    • Details of next Chapter Meeting
    • Any other Business
    • Confirmation of Agreed Actions
    • Close of the Formal Proceedings
    • Networking
  • No commercial dimension i.e. no presentations by commercial organisations
  • Zero tolerance for anybody trying to hijack the agenda for their own aims
  • Each Chapter will have its own web page within the TTF website
  • Each of the Leaders’ photo and bio on their Chapter’s web page
  • List of the Chapter members on the web page too
  • Chapter Leader to provide notes from the meeting - key discussion points and any ideas and actions agreed to be captured in the notes; no need for detailed minutes. Notes to be provided to TTF HQ within 24 hours; we will publish on the Chapter’s web page
  • Chapter Leaders to take full responsibility for their meeting – venue, logistics etc
  • TTF HQ to have full responsibility for all the marketing and promotion of the Chapter’s meetings; but Leaders and members can supplement and support through outreach, social media and so on

If over the next say 3 years we grow the membership in each Chapter to say 1,000 people x 20 Chapters = 20,000 people; all united in the desire to help get the finance industry to work better for everybody. That’s a very worthwhile aim

 

Key Questions that will need to be addressed

  • How do we create a robust yet sufficiently flexible governance framework that will keep the Chapters “true to mission”?
  • What should the process be to recruit the Chapter Leaders?
  • What should be their term of office? – should it be ongoing or time-limited?
  • How can we safely trial this initiative to help inform and develop the blueprint? – could we, for example have some “provisional” Chapter Leaders to help get things started, with all parties knowing that we are operating in “experimental laboratory conditions”?

 

Next steps

 

We will continue to finesse our thinking through encouraging feedback and absorbing it into our blueprint planning, with a view to getting the first cluster of Chapters up and running on a trial, pilot and provisional basis. 

If all goes well, we can thereafter share best practice, redefine the operating model and launch other Chapters.

 

Please share your feedback, thoughts and ideas to andy.agathangelou@transparencytaskforce.org

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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