I have been bumping into money related books, articles, blogs and videos recently a lot ; And you might agree with me, that with approaching
spending festive season of Christmas, availability of money in our wallets is gaining on its importance. Right? So, I have decided to share with some of those resources with you, which might get you thinking about concept of money, too.
[WARNING: this is one of the longest posts on #IS + ideas in it, might disturb your perception of the perfect world you thought, you live in. Read it at your own risk] 😉
I Was an Investment Banker Once
Let me start with a fact, that in the year of 2007, I was witnessing incredible financial and real estate boom in Dubai with my own eyes. I swear, it seemed to me like everyone became trader of stocks or buyer of properties. Then they were reselling them the next day for crazy profits. Commissions for sales people of real estates were mind blowing, especially when they have been getting commissions on the same apartment over and over again, which was only changing name of owner in a contract. Apart from witnessing all this craziness, in April that year I have joined big international bank which logo is umbrella (I believe you can guess its name) in Dubai and I became part of wealth management team for high net worth individuals, or simply said for clients loaded with money. In December, I was out of this business by my own choice, when I have resigned. Why?
After 7 Months, It Just Did Not Feel Right
Whole idea of investment banking just did not feel right to me. (especially knowing that my intuition rarely sabotage me). It seemed to me too fishy and not honest business at all. Getting clients signed for retirement plans and getting fat commissions from literally non-existing money (because client’s 1st payment was due only next month?!), attending fancy parties organized by big investment houses in the most posh spots of Dubai, getting trainings on pitching hedge funds and other investment products in the fancy offices of just built Dubai International Financial Centre...etc.
When I have decided to quit, many the people told me: “You are crazy! Why are you giving up this luxurious life. Make money. Seize the opportunity.” I just could not, my inner voice simply did not allow me to carry on in this industry.
Was my gut feeling, right?
You can judge yourself. You all know what financial crash has happened in 2008 and is still happening in other parts of the world (Greece, Ireland…)
What Is Future Of Money, Then?
Few weeks back, I was astonished by blog post Future Of Money Video; Now Where Do We Go From Here? written by futurist, design thinker and researcher from NYC – Venessa Miemis.
Guys, I really encourage you to watch Venessa’s video (bellow), which gives answers on: What are young adults thinking about money and value? How can we create new systems of wealth generation and abundance? What does the future hold for banks and other financial institutions in the wake of massive peer to peer exchange?
Can Do We Want From Banks?
Venessa stroked again in her next blog post, where she has reflected on what she really wants from banks. I have tweeted her post as the most sincere blog post I have read lately. Yes, it was that powerful! I totally agree with his Venessa’s statement:
“All I know about the way my bank works is that I deposit my money there, and then they take that money and go make money off of it. Where is that money going? Where is it being invested? Can I have control over how you use my money? Can I set a standard of where I allow you to invest my money, so I can be proud to say my money is being invested in green technology, or local initiatives, or ANYTHING that I care about? Or is it just being thrown around in a speculative market and making money off of itself, without generating actual value or wealth for the world? If so, that doesn’t make me proud. It makes me ashamed.”
Hmmm…I am ashamed too, the same way as I was ashamed when I was working in investment banking three years back.
So, What Is Real Value Of Money, Then?
Money was, is and most probable will be just a black box not worth understanding for most of the people. (It is necessity, we cannot live without it, why should I question it?) I have purposely used future form in the previous sentence, because even Man from Mars (from the book Stranger In A Strange Land), had troubles to grasp what money is;-) Martian Mike (or rather author Robert Heinlein) said about money:
“Money was in idea, as abstract as an Old One’s thoughts. The total structure of money dazzles me, the idea that an entire world could be reflected in one dynamic, completely interconnected, symbol structure.”
I too, find it pretty spooky, that worthiness of our lives can be expressed in numbers. We celebrate and envy rich people, we want to become one of them. I do wonder, why have we got fooled by this kind of “idols”? If in the core of our heart we will all say, that there are more important things in life to be grateful for than financial wealth, right?
What If Money Has No Value?
” By itself, money has no value:The value is produced only when we exchange money for other things.”
And this exchange for “other things” is certainly not taking place in the most of the transactions in the financial sector! Derivatives, which no one except PhDs in mathematics can understand, credit defaults swaps (trading with debts!?yeah, buying and selling someone else’s debts), hedge funds, etc. All of that, is a virtual game of numbers, not underlined by anything tangible. And I find it to be pretty lame, “wealth” not worth of admiring, I would say…
How Could We Get Fooled That Much?
John C. Bogle – founder of the most respected Vanguard Mutual Fund Group has an answer for it in his book Enough:True Measures of Money, Business and Life:
“Fund business has turned from stewardship to salesmanship, from managing assets to gathering assets. We have become largely a marketing industry, engaging in furious orgy of product proliferation.”
Whoa! And those are words of one of the founders of mutual fund industry…
Too Are Responsible For Financial Crisis
John Lanchester described financial sector’s direct ownership of capitalism in his book Whoops!: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay as:
“Great fortunes began to be made by employees, doing nothing other than their jobs – jobs which, in case of bankers, involve taking on risks, usually with other people’s borrowed money.”
Yes, that is why I have said, that we personally are responsible, too. We were borrowers, consumers, always needing more money to buy more stuff , to get bigger houses, nicer flats…We were irresponsible and we did not know how to have enough. We got fooled by marketing campaigns (easy loans) and peer pressure (oh, my everyone is having a mortgage I too need to sign 30 years “enslavement”), which encouraged our borrowing appetite, to acquire much more than we could afford and sadly much more than we truly needed for happy and meaningful life.
It Is Time To Be Truly Socially Worthy
As I always, say; If we don’t like something, we must change ourselves and lead by example. Changes have never happened from up, masses from “the bottom” should show the direction, where we want to take our future to. Are you up to it? I am.
Thanks to Cory Doctrow for blog post: Much of what investment bankers do is socially worthless! ,thanks for pointing out thoughtful article in The New Yorker: What Good Is Wall Street?, I totally agree with sad fact, that:
“For years the most profitable industry in America has been one that doesn’t design, build, or sell a single tangible thing.”
Let’s learn from our mistakes and let’s encourage need for a paradigm shift in what should banks and financial industry should be for. What role should banks play in our lives and how can we together collaborate on meaningful investment activities, which will help to make our world a better place…
We Have Reached A Point, When It Is Time For Radical Paradigm Shift About Money, Banking and Way Of Living…
Financial institutions proudly belong to service industry, so I believe that they are aware of its meaning, which means to provide a service and that they are aware that they exist, because of the real hard earned
cash deposits of its “ordinary” clients. But sadly they are often acting like it is the other way around…
I believe there are more and more bold people (like Venessa, Chris, John Bogle, John Lanchester etc.) around the globe, who will have the guts to stand up and speak about what is really going on with our monetary driven world.
I did my bit by composing this shipment.
how do you perceive value of financial institutions in our lives? What would you like your bank to do for you? How could you help your bank to build trust among each other again? Have you ever experienced a transactions or business deals based on exchange other means than money? What if money and currencies as such will collapse and will have no value at all? Will you still be happy with choices you have made in your life?
I cannot wait, when you will “pay” us a visit in the comment section.