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Gabelli100 | Nov 17, 2020 |

Serving Customers Faithfully and Adding Value to Society

The perception of the finance industry has been tainted by mistrust and notorious stories of corruption. But in his book Seeking Virtue in Finance: Contributing to Society in a Conflicted Industry, author JC de Swaan looks at the industry through a different lens.

De Swaan discussed his research on some of the industry’s finest role models in his talk on Nov. 16 as part of the Gabelli School Centennial Virtual Speaker Series, an event co-sponsored by the Museum of American Finance and the CFA Society of New York.

He pointed to the late John Whitehead, former leader of Goldman Sachs, saying he was a professional who “embodied prudence, humility, and citizenship,” and Frédéric Samama of Amundi, calling him a “pioneer in the ESG movement at a time when it was deeply unfashionable.” De Swaan also mentioned role models who are contributing to society in meaningful ways in the earlier stages of their careers. One example is Erin Godard, a young CPA at EY who, after spending a summer doing service work there, brought her skillset to East Africa where she created an accounting academy that sets students on the path toward future careers.

“My fundamental belief is that finance is a force for good,” said de Swaan. “I believe that most of the industry is on the right side of the ledger and I am optimistic.”

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