The Purpose of Finance

12 November 2020

The financial system takes a special place in a market economy the financial system: it is in many respects the spider in the web. When the system collapses, as it did in 2008, it affects the entire economy overnight. Because of this central role the financial sector is by far the most regulated economic sector. Yet it remains unclear whether all this regulation has helped us create a sector that delivers what we expect from it.

What is it that we expect from a financial system? In order to answer this question it is crucial to establish the purpose of finance. Fundamental reflections on the duty, the responsibilities and the role of finance are warranted in times of crisis. How much solidarity must banks adopt when dealing with the corona crisis? Is there a trade-off between stabilising society and stabilising finance? What projects should be financed? What duties do financial institutions have towards which stakeholders? Should social and environmental impact of investments be measured and communicated to clients, and if so, how? In short: how can the financial sector add value and be of service to the real economy? And has the system become any better or more efficient in delivering services to the real economy?

To take on these fundamental reflections, David Pitt-Watson (University of Cambridge) will give a lecture on ‘the purpose of finance’. Luc Van Liedekerke (University of Antwerp) will make a short opinion statement, followed by the responses of Frank Vanaerschot (FairFin) and Tom Van den Berghe (Febelfin).  Afterwards, there will be room for discussion.

Date & Time

12 November 2020
6.00 – 7.30 p.m. UTC+1
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Online via Blackboard Collaborate.
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Free entrance.
Please register online in advance.


18.00 p.m.

Welcome by Stijn Latré, director UCSIA

18.05 p.m.

The purpose of finance 

David Pitt-Watson (University of Cambridge)

19.00 p.m.

Opinion and statement

Luc Van Liedekerke (University of Antwerp)

19.15 p.m.

Responses in a panel debate

  • Frank Vanaerschot (FairFin)
  • Tom Van den Berghe (Febelfin)

19.30 p.m.



David Pitt-Watson

David Pitt-Watson

Leader of the Royal Society of Arts ‘Tomorrow’s Investor’ program, formerly Pembroke Visiting Professor, and currently Fellow in Finance, Fellow Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge

Tom Van den Berghe

Tom Van den Berghe

Senior Counsel Sustainable Finance & IT at Febelfin

Frank Vanaerschot

Frank Vanaerschot

Inhoudelijk medewerker at FairFin

Luc Van Liedekerke

Luc Van Liedekerke

Professor Business Ethics at the Centre for Ethics of the University of Antwerp

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