It’s as much of a surprise to me as it may be to many of you that the man responsible for Mr Bean and Blackadder is involved in a campaign about finance, about making our money matter.
But in fact it’s pretty logical. In the other half of my life I’ve spent 30 years trying to find ways to fight the great inequalities and injustices of the world. My first step was through Red Nose Day – but in 2005, like so many before me, I expanded my focus to talking to and putting pressure on governments to do all they can to Make Poverty History. In the last few years, I learned about the power of our money, the potential of the trillions invested globally to do good, and I’ve increasingly pivoted towards the role the private sector can and must play in changing the world.
The world is changing, and financial institutions must keep pace. This has been an extraordinary few years, not only because of Covid, but also because of the rise of transformative movements around the world.
From Black Lives Matter to Fridays for the Future to the #MeToo movement, people are demanding a better, more equitable and just social contract. They are asking ‘What can I do in my own life to make a difference?’ And they’re finding that answer in unexpected places. They’re finding it in the clothes they wear, the food they eat and how they travel.
They’re also finding it in the places they put their money. Unknown to most of us, our pensions and savings have often made us accidental investors in causes we fight against. This was brought to life for me when I listened to a brilliant TED talk by an Australian cancer doctor, Bronwyn King, who found that through her pensions she’d been investing in tobacco companies – funding the very cigarettes causing the cancers she spent her life treating.
It was at that moment that I asked myself, what’s my pension doing? I’m not sure I even knew that my pension WAS invested, let alone that it could be undermining all the things I do and work for. And the more I looked into it, the more exciting a line of action it seemed – here’s the biggest chunk of money that many of us have, trillions globally, that if directed well could be tackling some of our biggest challenges, from climate change to affordable housing to medical research.