Sustainable Development for ‎Economies and Corporations

R. Seetharaman, Group Chief Executive Officer of Doha Bank‎, delivered the first ‎CIRS ‎Monthly ‎Dialogue of 2014 with a lecture on “Sustainable Development for ‎Economies ‎and ‎Corporations”‎ ‎on January 20, 2014‎. Drawing on his experience as the head of a major ‎financial institution, he explained how, as a result of the global financial crisis, ‎economic ‎systems ‎all over the world ‏have been shaken to their core and forced to undergo massive ‎transformations ‎at a fundamental ‎level. These global financial institutions have had to align ‎themselves according to a new world ‎order of financial market re-regulation in the interest of ‎creating ‎more ‎conservative, cautious, and sustainable global economies. ‎

Seetharaman adumbrated the unprecedented circumstances that affected global financial systems ‎over the past few years, including the liquidity crisis that turned into a funding and solvency ‎crisis where entire nations such as Greece and Iceland experienced far-reaching economic ‎collapse. In these cases, he argued, politics and economics did not speak to each other on the ‎level of convergence that they should have. The liquidity crisis was addressed by unstable and ‎short-term solutions, such as printing more money to improve the cash flow and to stabilize stock ‎markets, but this was ultimately unsustainable. The problem was patched up on a superficial level, ‎but the fundamental roots of the economic crisis remained. Because “we live in an ‎interconnected, interdependent world,” currency markets and commodity markets are ‎intertwined, and what affects one affects the other. ‎

Reeling from years of global economic stagnation and recession, governments, corporations, ‎and ‎financial institutions have realized that massive overhauls in the system are necessary, ‎Seetharaman ‎explained. “This crisis is an opportunity for the new world order,” he advised. The ‎type of rapacious corporate capitalism and market speculation that defined the last few ‎decades ‎of deregulated market economies have altered in form and substance. Similarly, countries that ‎adhered to a socialist structure of economic governance have also ‎found it necessary to change ‎their financial structures, and have been making concerted efforts to end their isolation and ‎connect with the global ‎economy. In fact, Seetharaman said, these two formerly oppositional ‎economic ‎philosophies are increasingly becoming intertwined for a more effective and sustainable ‎economic ‎reality. “Mixed economies are the game changers. We have seen the emerging markets ‎incrementally producing ‎over 60% of gross domestic product in terms of global growth, and ‎these economies have to be an integral part of the order of inclusive growth. This is why the G7 ‎has become the G8, and G8 has become G20,” he said. ‎

Because financial institutions operate as much on public money as they do on private shareholder ‎assets, the public-private partnership model is the most sustainable way of moving forward, ‎Seetharaman advised. Taking the example of Doha Bank, Seetharaman argued that private ‎shareholder money accounts for approximately 11 billion, and yet customer deposits account for ‎an enormous 35 billion. It thus becomes obvious that even if a financial institution is private, it is ‎often, in reality, public. The global financial crisis revealed that the public is in fact an important ‎stakeholder whose investments must be protected and not gambled with. “Whether you run a ‎socially responsible mission as a corporate head or a country head, you have to practice social ‎responsibility. That way, you will take care of all the stakeholders,” he explained.‎

In conclusion, Seetharaman argued that because of the increase in patterns of globalized ‎connectivity on all levels, ‎whether in terms of financial markets or broader issues of climate ‎change, governance systems all over the ‎world must attempt to adhere to the same ethical, ‎socially-responsible, and sustainable standards. At the universal level, we need to “set new ‎initiatives that are responsive to see the ‎United ‎Nation‏‎’s ‎mission ‎for eradication of extreme ‎poverty,‎‏ ‏gender ‎equality, ‎‏economic ‎sustainability,‎‏ ‏primary ‎healthcare,‎‏ ‏education‏,‏‎ global ‎collaborations‏‎,” he concluded.‎

Dr. R. Seetharaman (www.seetharaman.org), Group Chief Executive Officer of Doha Bank, is ‎a ‎recipient of ‎multiple doctorates from leading universities of the world, including a PhD in ‎Global ‎Governance by European ‎University and Doctorate of Laws by Washington College. He ‎is a ‎Chartered Accountant and holds certificates ‎in IT Systems and Corporate Management. He ‎has ‎been named “Best CEO in Middle East” and “World Leader ‎Business Person” and is a ‎recipient ‎of “The Gullands Excellence Award as a Phenomenal Banker.” A regular ‎commentator ‎on ‎international finance in global media outfits such as BBC, CNN, FOX, CNBC, Sky ‎News, ‎ABC, ‎and Bloomberg, he has transformed Doha Bank as one of the best performing ‎Banks in the ‎Middle East region.‎

Article by Suzi Mirgani, Manager and Editor for CIRS Publications