A call to reboot capitalism and preserve $85 trillion in retirement savings for their owners—not for use as the financial industry’s ATM
Each year we pay billions in fees to those who run our financial system. The money comes from our bank accounts, our pensions, our borrowing, and often we aren’t told that the money has been taken. These billions may be justified if the finance industry does a good job, but as this book shows, it too often fails us. Financial institutions regularly place their business interests first, charging for advice that does nothing to improve performance, employing short-term buying strategies that are corrosive to building long-term value, and sometimes even concealing both their practices and their investment strategies from investors.
In their previous prizewinning book, The New Capitalists, the authors demonstrated how ordinary people are working together to demand accountability from even the most powerful corporations. Here they explain how a tyranny of errant expertise, naive regulation, and a misreading of economics combine to impose a huge stealth tax on our savings and our economies. More important, the trio lay out an agenda for curtailing the misalignments that allow the financial industry to profit at our expense. With our financial future at stake, this is a book that analysts, economists, policy makers, and anyone with a retirement nest egg can’t afford to ignore.
Stephen Davis is a senior fellow at Harvard Law School’s program on corporate governance. Jon Lukomnik is executive director of the Investor Responsibility Research Center. David Pitt-Watson is the former head of the Hermes shareholder activist funds in Europe and an executive fellow of finance at the London Business School.
". . . the interests of the underlying clients of the finance industry—the depositors, the workers and the pensioners—should come first. Everyone is a capitalist these days. That means keeping a much closer eye on those who manage that capital."—Economist
"A thoughtful, meticulously documented, and downright infuriating indictment of the American financial services industry."—Nell Minow, Huffington Post
"A new book by three of the best thinkers in financial sustainability . . . does an outstanding job of fusing the public necessity and investor rationale for sustainable investment. . . . The timing of this book is impeccable, and it is required reading."—Hugh Whelan, ESG Magazine
"This excellent and well written book exposes the multiple leakages to various agents operating between savers and pensioners and the companies they are invested in as well as the problems of collective industry failure. It does not just make clear the problems and the often perverse incentives in the current system, but with clear 'takeaways' after each chapter, the authors propose practical solutions from greater transparency to systemic regulation, with an outline of what a 'People’s Pension Plan' and a 'Common-Sense Bank' would look like. The book has insights for the individual investor as well as those in the industry interested in making the investment process fairer and more responsible."—Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, former chairman of Royal Dutch Shell
"For those wishing to know what’s right with our financial system and how it can go wrong—or what’s wrong with it and how it can be set right, this is the book for you. Its return to common sense and the basics of finance is refreshing in a world too often characterized by obfuscation and complexity. Clear, concise, sensible, and incontrovertible."—Steve Lydenberg, Founder and CEO of The Investment Integration Project
"This book brilliantly describes what finance is for and shows how we, the people, who are the ultimate owners, can influence the system to meet our long-term needs."—Dame Barbara Stocking, President, Murray Edwards College, Cambridge
"Davis, Lukomnik and Pitt-Watson paint a bleak picture of an out-of-control financial system that fails to serve the aspirations of ordinary individuals. Not content simply to identify the problem, the authors propose creative (principles-based) solutions. If you care about the role of finance in today’s economy, read this provocative, compelling book."—David Swensen, Chief Investment Officer, Yale University
"This fine book provides remarkable insights into what has gone wrong in our financial institutions and markets. In its call for action by us—we investors who collectively own corporate America—the authors offer clear and actionable steps that we can take to build a corporate world that serves our own interests, not Wall Street's."—John C. Bogle, founder and former chief, The Vanguard Group
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