Practical solutions to inequality in Australian society.

Warm heart, cold eye

By Ben McAlary


The Financial Services Council was proud to join with other industry leaders, education providers and social services professionals to explore practical solutions to inequality in Australian society at the Wayside Chapel’s inaugural Side by Side event in Sydney recently.

The event saw leaders from the finance sector including Geoff Lloyd, CEO and MD of Perpetual; Chris Cuffe AO, founder of Australian Philanthropic Services; Michael Traill AM, former CEO of SVA; Allegra Spender, CEO of Australian Business & Community Network; and CEO of the Financial Services Council, Sally Loane; come together to talk about their experiences, revelations and hopes for addressing inequality in the future.

Financial Services Council CEO Sally Loane facilitated a session entitled 'The CEO, the investor and the social worker,’ that featured Geoff Lloyd, Chris Cuffe and Claudia Lennon from the Benevolent Society.

The panel discussed marginalisation, poverty and homelessness and looked at ways the financial services sector can help inform and improve existing philanthropic efforts.

Geoff Lloyd shared his view on how philanthropy has grown as a profession, “It is about having a warm heart when it comes to giving and a cold eye when it comes to investing. Investors expect their giving to be executed in a very deliberate way with emphasis on impact, outcome and evaluation.”

Claudia Lennon, who has extensive experience at the point at which services are provided to vulnerable people, could see enormous value in bringing business leaders to the table to help fight poverty, homelessness and drug addiction. “Australian businesses have come to the table because they want to do things better and have brought economic and business rigour,” she said.

Chris Cuffe, who has pioneered a philanthropic investment fund which sees stars of the Australian funds management industry provide portfolio management services for free on the basis that their fees and the fund’s income are donated to charitable causes, said more still needs to be done. “We can make better inroads particularly in workplace giving… regulations are starting to fall into place but there is plenty more to do,” he said.

Social impact investments, a relatively recent innovation in financial services that allow investors to generate a financial return – in the form of the savings to government social services spending – when their capital makes a measurably positive impact to social outcomes, were put forward by Cuffe as a means to significantly move the dial.

On the issue of taxation the panel was divided.

Geoff Lloyd believed that a bigger pot of money for the government to spend didn’t necessarily mean better outcomes for society, while Claudia Lennon disagreed by highlighting that more opportunities would be created which would mean more change.

Sally Loane CEO, closed the session with a challenge to the financial services and community sectors, “There is a lot we can do together to help each other…this is not a place where we need to beat each other up, this is a place we need to find a common language and work together side by side.”

The FSC encourages members to share their ideas on how we can move towards social equality here.

Wayside Chapel’s inaugural Side by Side event in Sydney.
Sally Loane facilitated 'The CEO, the investor& the social worker,’ with
Geoff Lloyd, Chris Cuffe& Claudia Lennon from the Benevolent Society.

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