Monday, September 23, 2013

Fortune 100 CEO addresses trust in financial services industry

TIAA-CREF CEO Roger Ferguson addresses audience at 2013 Sutton leture
Roger W. Ferguson Jr., president and chief executive of TIAA-CREF, packed the house at KU Edwards Campus Oct. 16. Students, faculty and the general public gathered to hear his talk on the process of, and need for, rebuilding trust in the financial services industry.

He began by bringing attention to the fifth anniversary of the U.S. economy’s devastating meltdown. The unemployment rate is still high, he said. He added: We have not yet escaped the after effects of the 2008 financial meltdown.

Ferguson discussed the importance of trusting the financial services industry and what an important tool financing is in society.

“Financing is creating the architecture for setting goals,” he said. He elaborated on the four different steps necessary to bring the financial service industry back.

First, considering what is in the best interests of stakeholders through a long-term view. Second, holding management accountable for supporting a culture of long-term thinking, a no surprise environment and an ethical performance. Third, regulating and supporting a broader view of roles within the industry by asking, “what kind of culture is this?” Lastly, long-term stakeholders are responsible for influencing the company to be honest and behave with values.

“We can rebuild trust by handling a better ethical performance,” he said. “Ethics is an enabler of our dreams and aspirations.”

To wrap up his lecture, he passionately discussed the importance of trust. Ferguson used TIAA-CREF as an example of why trust is so crucial.

“People put their life savings into TIAA-CREF and this is because they trust you’ll be there in 75 years,” he said.

When answering questions from the audience, he highlighted how far we are from achieving trust in the financial services industry. Ferguson acknowledged that trust is simply not returning, noting how Millennials perceive financial services.

TIAA-CREF, a Fortune 100 financial services company, is the leading provider of retirement services. Ferguson’s lecture served as the 2013 Walter S. Sutton Lecture, co-sponsored by the School of Business and KU’s International Center for Ethics in Business.

by Mackenzie Leander