Economic Progress

Restoring economic dynamism in 2013

Katherine Garrett-Cox
Chief Executive Officer, Gulf International Bank (UK) Ltd and Chair, Clean Air Fund
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Economic Progress

With the dawn of a new year comes new hope for the global economy. Yet the clouds continue to loom large on the horizon and the opportunities for growth are more difficult to find.

Economies cannot grow without a thriving and vibrant financial services sector to facilitate and fund development. However, trust has been severely dented and those who work in this field have a responsibility to rebuild it.

Damaged relationships must be repaired. Restoring a growing and dynamic global economy will require greater cooperation. The financial community must focus on the customer and strive to deliver products that meet their needs, not products that work well for providers. There has been far too much focus on profit rather than purpose. Moreover, the urgency to do this has never been greater. A successful partnership will lead to free-flowing capital, economic growth and, ultimately, employment opportunities.

The question is how to redress the balance. In my opinion, this is likely to come about through a reconnection between those who provide financial services and the end buyer. To that end, my hope for 2013 is that it heralds a new focus on trust, transparency and simplicity.

There is little doubt that there is a role for companies to play in bridging the gap between the financial and the non-financial economy. It must be built on a careful and considered education of society at large, being clear about the purpose and end goals, being honest about the risks and opportunities, and, most critically, creating a truly sustainable business model.

Everyone has a part to play in the restoration of the global economy. Society should learn from its mistakes yet have the confidence to put it right. A blame culture is rarely constructive; it is incredibly concerning that many recent surveys outline a complete breakdown of trust between consumers and financial institutions. This must be restored without delay to ensure the financial security of future generations.

It is an easier task to identify the threats to our future than the opportunities, for this is human nature. However, as I look forward to 2013, there is a way to make an impact and seize the opportunity. Trust and transparency for me are the keys to a brighter economic future. These are the tenets on which Alliance Trust was founded nearly 125 years ago.

Our world has been rocked by suspicion and confusion created by the very institutions that should have kept us safe. I see a bright future, but would offer the following thoughts: keep it simple, and keep looking forward. Successful companies keep their eye on the horizon, not just on the bottom line.

Author:  Katherine Garrett-Cox is Chief Executive of Alliance Trust PLC. She has worked in financial services for more than 23 years and sits on the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Bank AG. She is also a Founder Member of the Advisory Council of the CityUK, a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group and was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2006.

Photo Credit: Reuters Images

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