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Opinion

Banking: The world’s unlikely hero in sustainable finance

Will we look back in 30 years and say this was truly an amazing time to be in banking? I hope so.

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“It’s an amazing time to be in banking,” a senior banker told me in late May. He seemed shocked and a bit embarrassed to have said it out loud but continued: “This generation of bankers, and maybe the next, have been given the opportunity to play an enormous role in saving our planet and changing the trajectory of finance.”

It’s a sentiment that bankers, asset managers, people in private equity firms, pension funds and ancillary services, such as technology or accounting, are increasingly expressing – this is an exciting time for the financial industry. There’s a tangible enthusiasm and camaraderie, and a little hesitation – are we allowed to be excited?

I think so – and it’s the first time in two decades of covering banking as a journalist that I can say that.

When Goldman Sachs’ former chief executive Lloyd Blankfein was pilloried for his 2009 comment about doing “God’s work”, his point was one I used to hear from bankers all the time: that they were helping society by financing the economy. They were the creators of jobs, of prosperity and were performing a social purpose.




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