Earlier this week, I was at a lecture at the RSA where Sky’s Adam Boulton was in conversation with Stephen Green, chairman of international banking group HSBC. They had both just returned from the G20/G8, which provided a backdrop to discussions on financial turbulence, money and morality. The presentation was especially interesting as it took a long-term historical view: King Edward III was noted as the first British sovereign to default on his debts; Franciscan thinking from the middle ages on poverty versus wealth was quoted; the ebb and flow of world trade was examined. You can watch the RSA’s video of the talk here. Well worth a look.
Mr Green was questioned on his book, Good Value: Building a Better Life in Business. He gave his perspective on the current macroeconomic climate, talking about a clear rebalancing to the East. He says ‘emerging markets’ is a misnomer, preferring the re-emergence of markets. China was the world’s largest economy until 1820 – before the growth of super powers – and was the dominant economic power in 18 of the last 20 centuries. Over a generation, he says, we will see the rise of the ‘new G20’ states, and the relative marginalisation of the G7/G8.
However, he is positive about the opportunities for business offered by this rebalancing. Companies that plan responsible, sustainable business strategies, in tune with the cultural needs of growing markets will thrive. Real CSR will have real impact.
As a spokesperson for the global banking community, Stephen Green is impressive. Highly engaging and authoritative, without a hint of arrogance. He expertly batted away questions inviting comment on BP’s current problems and focused on broad issues of strategy and morality. As an ordained Anglican priest, his views on ethics in business are especially interesting. From a reputation manager’s perspective, he is a valuable asset. A thought leader with original, coherent thoughts and a distinctive view of the world. Good value.