These are some weird times in the financial industry.
It definitely trends more toward “weird bad,” but if you squint, some of it is … simply “weird.”
Like the New York Times story last week about Wells Fargo interviewing people of color and white women for jobs that they’ve already decided to fill with someone else, to boost their diversity numbers. (After all the years of scandals for Wells, don’t you just want to tell them, “Come on, folks, it’s seriously not that hard”?)
Like the industry event I went to last week — attended by influential thought leaders and some of the smartest people I know — where they talked about how to grow the economy … but made no mention of building a greater social safety net, of the negative impact of reducing people’s reproductive rights, of the positive impact of instituting paid parental leave. It was like these issues didn’t even exist. I could not even.
And how about the Bloomberg article about the Head of Responsible Investing at HSBC, who said at a conference, “Climate change is not a financial risk that we need to worry about. There’s always some nut job telling me about the end of the world.” Wait, what?
He went on to say, “Who cares if Miami is six meters underwater in 100 years, Amsterdam’s been six meters underwater for ages, and that’s a really nice place. We will cope with it.”
Did we note that this guy is the Head of Responsible Investing? That responsible investing is therefore his whole job?*
Finally, there’s a podcast host out there who might’ve gotten a bit more bite than he deserved — and certainly more than he expected. I try to avoid getting prickly when I can, probably because of the whole “nobody likes a b*tch” thing. But it was the end of a long week when the host of the podcast I was on said to me that “the US is becoming more egalitarian for women.”
My response was, “Can you tell me exactly how?”
Awkward silence ensued.
I think he countered that we have a woman CEO of a major US bank. I may have then responded that, while that is most certainly a positive, women’s reproductive rights are under attack, the social safety net for mothers is shredded, and women still have to work longer and harder and better to earn as much or to raise as much funding as men do.
But these are things that that podcast host never has to think about — and he clearly doesn’t.
(I didn’t say that last sentence out loud. Either way, I’m guessing this whole exchange will get “cut for time.”)
In the meantime, bear markets are no fun. Investors overall are pulling their money out of the stock and bond markets, to the tune of tens of billions a week. (Even now, they’re already saying they regret it.) I keep reminding myself: We’ve recovered from every “bear market” in history and come out ahead. We’ve recovered from every recession or depression in history and come out ahead.
And then there’s you. You wonderful, long-term-oriented, keep-calm-and-carry-on Ellevest investors — you’ve been standing firm. Translation: You’re keeping calm and investing on. And historically, that’s proven to be a very wise strategy.
To me, in such an upside-down world, it’s you who’s making sense. You represent the hope.
If I were a betting woman, I would go ahead and bet it won’t be his job for long.
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