Edmund Burke famously said that “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it”. When it comes to Business Education, history is often seen as irrelevant or backward and traditional implying that there is nothing at all to learn from history.
Meanwhile, the modern crimes of corporations, their greed, tax evasion and frauds are also off the curriculum by and large. Students paying over thirty thousand pounds to get an MBA do not want to know much about bad behaviour, and instead secure that high paying job irrespective of the ethics.
One charity, the Library of Mistakes, started by Russell Napier, a top finance guru, boldly stands out against this grain. It is very keen to teach the lessons of history, especially in Finance, where blue chip Banks and global institutions are routinely investigated and practice systemic fraud and corruption.
As a society, such conduct and behaviour in the highly responsible, influential and accountable industry of banking and finance is simply unsustainable. It is public money that Banks are supposed to hold and their leaders should have the highest values to look after it and repay the investors and depositors. All too often bad culture and incentives drive out good behaviour and encourage deceit, with the help of clever lawyers and accountants. We have a profound institutional cancer in modern accounting and finance.
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The Library is open to the public and hosts readings, podcasts, discussions and training seminars to help students and professionals learn from the lessons of history and adopt a responsible culture and conscience in finance. All too often new generations think that risk is just a calculation when in reality it is much more complex and also connected to culture and values. The mathematics and abstraction often create a myth of risk management which hide uncertainty and speculation. The vast rise in gambling is destroying the soul of our planet, and really increasing inequality and greed. Finance cheats by making speculation look smart.
Our heritage of Dharma also has a profound understanding of business and finance, evolved over generations of practice and experience, and this is virtually not in any business curriculum globally. Are you concerned enough to bring history back into the curriculum? If so, the next time you choose your study, ensure that you learn from the mistakes and strengths of the past.
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*Info: Library of Mistakes