Coinciding with his book launch – of the same title and published by Princeton University Press – I was invited, as a journalist for the Financial Times in London, to a presentation on the subject by the public relations firm he/they had hired.
As an ex-undergraduate student of the London School of Economics, and where the STA teaches its Diploma course in technical analysis, I often go to LSE open lectures which are free! Do go – along and pity the poor students who are paying through the nose for the privilege of studying there.
The slim, youthful Mr Beunza says he joined the LSE 20 years ago and has one way or another been involved with them since 2009 (as an ex-lecturer in management). Now, a decade on from the great financial crisis, he believes that a narrow emphasis on structural reform has left a problematic bank culture largely unchanged. This is his topic. The core of the book (which I haven’t read yet) is based on lengthy interviews, starting in 1999, with the CEO (who he calls ‘Bob’, the pseudonym of a chap with great ambivalence over Wall Street ) of an un-named US investment bank. The topic is followed up with oral history interviews of other participants in 2015.
The interplay between models and morals is the key take-away, where the underlying assumptions of business models didn’t necessarily apply. The models created moral disengagement and at the centre of the dissonance, and the worm turned when customers were transformed into counterparties, therefore making as much money out of them – fleecing – became the name of the game.
Chairing the talk was Professor of Accounting Michael Power. I was curious to see why one would do a degree in the subject there, rather than join one of the UK’s big 4 auditing firms. Seems like there’s a need because the department has no less than 23 on its academic faculty.