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Conference explores ‘The debt of nations’

IMS member and Chair of the Management, Governance and Ethical Finance Conference, Dr Marizah Minhat, summarises the key themes addressed and discussed during the two-day event.

L-R: A Tait, Dr M Minhat, J Walker, D Bond, R Campbell and Dr N Dzolkarnaini at ICAEW stand, ICMGR Conference, Edinburgh, April 2019

In collaboration with ICAEW Scotland, the International Centre for Management and Governance Research (ICMGR) has continued its public engagement initiatives with this year’s conference.

Several critical issues were put forward at the event. On the first day, conference participants (who came from as far as Canada and Hong Kong) were exposed to eye-opening statistics on global public debt.

Ross Campbell, Managing Director of Belvedere Campbell, and former ICAEW Public Sector, Director guided delegates through key issues and shared copies of the ICAEW publication, ‘The Debt of Nations: A Policy Insight’, which he co-authored. It is sobering to consider that global public debt has more than tripled from £9.7tn to £29.7tn during the 2001-2018 period. The UK is listed as one of the largest borrowers beside the United States, Japan, Italy, and France.

Different views on debt and ethical finance

Interestingly, the critical discourse on debt was extended to the conference’s forum on ‘social enterprise financing’. The panel discussions revolved around the over-reliance of social enterprises (including charitable organisations) on debt financing or borrowing.

The forum, chaired by Dr Wendy Wu of Bright Red Triangle (BRT), featured ten panel speakers from social enterprises and/or charities. While some felt that debt is not necessarily bad, charitable organisation, Ansar Finance, took the alternative perspective by promoting interest-free debt financing during the conference.

In pursuing an ethical financing agenda in relation to socially responsible activities, Dr Marizah Minhat has teamed up with Dr Wendy Wu, Dr Nazam Dzolkarnaini and Strategy and Fundraising Consultant, Sally-Anne Hunter, to undertake a research project on ‘social enterprise financing’. This project arose from a discussion at the ICMGR’s Ethical Finance and Community Development Forum 2018 (#EFCDF18). The opinions of panel speakers gathered during a forum held at this year’s conference has provided a further impetus to develop a practical and ethical financing solution to address the need for diversity in social endeavours.

Diverse points of view

Reflecting the diversity of finance and governance, the conference featured speakers from different faith and philosophical backgrounds. Reverend Iain May once again gave the Christian perspective, and talked about the running of Castle Community Bank, Edinburgh, where he is a Chair.

Church of Scotland elder and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland, Professor Charles Munn, explored the interesting issue of whether professionalism and ethics are compatible.

Taking a non-religious perspective, Owen Kelly, Director of Engagement of University of Edinburgh Business School, shared his Aristotelian perspective on board governance.

Taking a broader perspective, Professor Hans-Peter Burghof of the Institute for Financial Management, Universität Hohenheim (Germany), put forward the view that ethical investment as a “time-consuming direct investment” and “investment through competent and trustworthy specialists”. He asserted that if an economic activity is totally unacceptable for a society, it should simply be forbidden, but the authority to prevent such activity should not be handed over to faulty private institutions. This approach requires state intervention in governing ethical finance and investment activities – an issue that gave everyone lots to consider.

Papers presented

During the second day of the conference, twelve research papers on Islamic finance themes were presented by academics from University of Bolton, Birmingham City University, University of Dundee, University of Durham, Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education, and University of Groningen (Netherlands).

Other research papers were presented on topics including financial integration, social-impact investing, corporate social responsibility, governance and leadership themes that include executive compensation.

Professor Jonathan Liu, Editor-in-Chief with the International Journal of Business Performance Management, shared publishing tips and insights with delegates to help them hone their skills.

Forthcoming event - Ethical Finance & Financial Crime

A seminar on Ethical Finance & Financial Crime was announced during the #MGEF19 conference. The seminar will cover a thought-provoking perspective on ethical finance, forensic auditing and money laundering regulations and cases. For ICAEW members, attendance at this seminar can be counted towards their annual CPD requirements.

The seminar takes place on Thursday 29 August at 17.30 at Edinburgh Napier University’s Craiglockhart campus.

Cost: £40 (ICAEW member), £50 (non-member)
For further details and registration, email m.minhat@napier.ac.uk
Booking closes 31 July 2019.

More information…

Explore the event hash-tag #MGEF19 on Twitter

A look at past events on ethical finance