At the Suffolk Business School, unlike so many British Universities, we take the real world seriously. Please read this piece we wrote in the Guardian which explains why and how we are so different. And the real world of finance has crashed and is continuing to crash with massive frauds, awful unethical leadership and an appalling culture. We therefore take our students onto the real world of finance, including its history, and the City of London is a great reservoir of global financial history. Many of the world’s financial innovations such as the stock market, central banking, Lloyds of London insurance, pensions, derivatives – took place here. Did you know that at one time there were also 102 churches in this square mile – showing that for a long time, faith and finance were closely entwined, although today, faith is very far from finance? Our expert tour guide Marilyn Greene, did an excellent job in talking students on a guided walk through the iconic buildings, stories and history of one of the oldest financial centres in the world.
We were then really excited to be hosted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, our training and professional partner, who gave us a delicious lunch and then explained what professional work and training can do for students. This is one of the oldest professional bodies, with a global reputation, and Laura Barber and Dominic Sheehy gave an excellent presentation on the great opportunities that awaited our students – in terms of skills, training, professionalism and fair rewards for their work. Also from the ICAEW, Francesca Sharp, led a brilliant workshop on the UN Global Development Goals and Sustainability for our students.
I then wrapped up the event by doing a reflection on what they had learnt in class about finance, and the huge importance of culture and ethics, including history, in understanding the discipline of finance. In our feedback survey, the students rated the trip as an outstanding experience overall, with a majority giving it a maximum 5 rating, something which will be very memorable for them for a long time. Student Roberta Kondraite said: ‘It was a truly beautiful and memorable experience, learning about this history, professions and institutions of finance.’ The trip also enhanced their motivation to learn, and made them familiar with the real world of finance. The high towers will not scare them anymore. Culture and ethics lie at the very heart of finance.