George Möller has worked for over 40 years in the financial world. He was president of Amsterdam Exchanges, board member of Euronext, topman of the Robeco Group and lately Chairman of the Dutch AFM (Financial market authority). His book “Waardenloos” (Value-less) is an indictment about the greed culture and lack of financial ethics in finance. In his book there is a photo of Möller playing golf with Bernie Madoff, who cheated his best friends and impoverished them.
He cites a London taxi driver who told him, “Bankers are all thieves. They don’t earn, they steal. The government should lock them up. Surely, banking can’t be that difficult?” Möller states in his book, “A moral compass in the financial world is hard to find!” Möller agreed with him!
“The financial world is abstract and that makes it tough to differentiate between good and evil.”He says that consciousness of good and evil has been watered down. “there are lots of rules to follow, but we must do more than that, otherwise you become a moral robot.”
Möller is very critical towards Christine Lagarde, director of the IMF, who was angry at the Greeks for not paying taxes, while she herself pays no taxes. Möller has more respect for the Italian premier Monti, who refused a salary. “That gives him much more respect.”
Möller is not just critical of the bankers, but also the customers. “He is just a greedy for profits as the advisor or broker!” He tells of the accident with the money van some years ago, when banknotes were strewn over the road. “Drivers couldn’t get out of their car quickly enough to gather up as many notes as they could.” People wanting top mortgages which they cannot really afford were equally driving factors for the crisis, and he welcomes the current reticence of banks to finance homes.
Möller is th initiator for a new postgrad course of study at the prestigious Dutch Nijenrode Business School, covering Financial Ethics. “Ethics is often an easy filler like social studies earlier. You need not only rules but also a set of virtues and principles. Real change comes from a crisis.”
Let’s hope that we learn from this current crisis. Many times after a crisis when new moves are made to improve the way we work and live together, we revert to our old ways when times get better. A crisis is our wake-up call to rethink what we do.
Einstein said, “We cannot solve the problems we created with the same thinking that caused the problems in the first place.” We need to reform the way we think about money, possessions and our economy. We need to take a fresh look at Gods ways – how to learn to live and work using the timeless principles found in the Bible, the source of ethics.
Book: George Möller “Waardenloos” – Barnyard Publishers.