Why ownership and accountability matter

Who owns what?

Why does it matter?

 

Calls for broader participation in and ownership of the economy are increasing. It’s time for us to shift our attention from short-term return on financial capital and shareholder equity, to long-term return on human capital and societal equity.

 

A fresh breeze is blowing through the corridors of society, where ordinary people have found their collective voice, and are using it to change the conversation. Gone are the days of subservient obedience and reliance on the few in the know to make decisions on behalf of the many. This is increasingly true of the millennial investor, who wants to know that her investment counts and makes a difference. Last year saw a series of failures in various aspects of the investment value chain come to a climax: from the governance and procurement failures of some of our state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and its impact on the credit markets, to the inability of analysts to pick up on accounting irregularities at corporates such as Steinhoff International, to the questionable transformation outcomes of such theoretically redistributive mechanisms as BEE. This is cause for introspection, for professional and lay investors alike. What did we miss? For what should we be on the lookout? Can we continue to always rely on “someone else” to review, to monitor, to ask the probing questions? This points to us sharing a collective responsibility to remain vigilant – not because the different participants in the value chain cannot be trusted, but because the entire raison d’être of investing requires scrutiny. This edition of Collective Insight presents a collection of articles selected to elicit discussion and present different points of view to the question: “Why does it matter?” I invite you to read each article and identify “a call to action” – or at the very least, “a call to re-consideration”. The articles provide some much-needed insights as to what we need to be cognisant of, and how we can more effectively direct the power of our voices.

 

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