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In Safe Hands? The Future of Financial Services


“The bestway to predict the future is to invent it.”. Alan Kay




“When will we know our financial system is working?” is one of the questions underlying Long Finance’s goal to improve society’s understanding and use of finance over the long term. In contrast to the short-termism that defines today’s economic views, 40 years is only the medium term for the Long Finance initiative.

40 years is however, beyond most normal planning periods. Scenario planning can usefully be deployed to try and answer questions about the future that cannot be answered with normal forecasting techniques. It is therefore exciting for Long Finance and Financial Centre Futures to publish this paper by Gill Ringland, Chief Executive Officer of SAMI Consulting and an expert in scenarios.

Gill creates four very plausible scenarios of how the world could develop over the next 40 years. The first is a position where we still value democracy, capitalism is still a dominant concept and the nation state still dominates. The second is a world which still has recognisable political and economic systems but has adapted considerably to population and resource pressures.

The third scenario imagines a world where the financial crisis has caused amelt-down in many western countries, budgets have been overloaded and general consumption has been severely restricted. The result is a societal structure defined by ethnic and religious groups.

In Gill’s final scenario, globalisation has failed and democracy is thought to be unwieldy. Many city states have replaced failed states and constant mobility between these states is seen as completely normal.

For each scenario Gill examines the early indicators of their development, how they might evolve and what could prevent them. Gill goes on to examine the complexity of governing structures, monetary systems and the roles of the ‘state’ under each scenario.

Forme, perhaps the most interesting, exciting and scary parts of this report are the implications of the third and fourth scenarios for financial services,which would need to adapt radically in order to stay relevant.

Policymakers and financial services professionals need to consider possibilities about the future. Their challenge is to make sure that the financial system does not remain broken for too much longer. Gill’s paper is therefore required reading for them. It is also an absorbing read for anyone else who is interested in thinking about the future.

Mark Yeandle, Project Manager, Financial Centre Futures

Read more (PDF 70 pages) : http://www.longfinance.net/images/PDF/In%20Safe%20Hands.pdf

Mercredi 14 Mars 2012
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