Sir, I have a bit of an unusual career. I started off working for the US ice-cream company Ben & Jerry’s. I even met Jerry while I was there. I then moved into hedge funds. After the financial crisis, I joined a family office eventually ending up at a bank in Switzerland, heading the impact investing efforts. What struck me in my new position was the highly conservative culture (no dogs were allowed at the office, as they had been at Ben & Jerry’s) with its dismally low diversity and strong resistance to new ideas.
This had profoundly baffled me until I read Tim Harford’s brilliant column “ Like great coffee, good ideas percolate slowly” (Undercover economist, February 3). He points out that over-regulation shields companies and banks from competition. As a result, good ideas such as sustainable or impact investing are not picked up willingly. I do think that the regulator is partially to blame for that (think of the new Mifid II rules with 1.7m paragraphs!). I fully agree with Mr Harford: people only grasp for good ideas in desperation, when they have no other choice.
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