Stewardship: Lessons Learned from the Lost Culture of Wall Street is about John’s journey towards understanding and affirming the importance of stewardship as a core principle — for him personally; for the financial services industry; for the global financial system; and for society at large.
Read what others have to say…
“No one concerned about the role of our nations’ financial system can afford to ignore John Taft’s marvelous call for Stewardship in the culture of Wall Street, and indeed in our nation and in our society at large.”
founder and retired CEO of The Vanguard Group
“When I was asked by a good friend to read John Taft’s manuscript with the possibility of providing a comment about it, I groaned at the prospect of reading another dreary, self-justificatory treatise. I could not have been more wrong. Mr. Taft draws on his considerable experience in the financial industry to produce an essay that is thoughtful, constructive, and, in a word I rarely get to use in the context of the financial crisis, inspiring. I am glad to recommend it.”
“Like his father and grandfather and great grandfather before him, John is another Taft who understands we are all stewards and with that comes responsibility. Stewardship is not just a book for Wall Street. It’s a book for you and me.”
Co-Author, Moral Intelligence
“John Taft demystifies the complex inner workings of the financial services industry. He provides a simple, but elegant, approach to restoring trust and confidence in the U.S. Financial Services markets.”
President and CEO, Center for Ethical Business Cultures
“This is a powerful and moving book that deserves to be widely read. The idea of stewardship captures powerfully what is needed today - I just hope the financial industry listens.”
U.S. Managing Editor, The Financial Times, and Author, Fool’s Gold
“Timely, well-argued, deeply humane. Taft is the sort of leader finance needs as it emerges from the crisis.”
New York Bureau Chief, The Economist and Author, The Road from Ruin
There will always be extreme events – and the ones that have the most impact on our lives will be the ones we don’t foresee, such as the market dislocation and economic crisis we’ve recently experienced. What we should learn is that we will be tested again by future emergencies. And that we have to prepare now, before they hit, to mitigate the risk. The other lesson we should have learned is what happens when you lose touch with your stewardship responsibilities.
There’s a growing trend toward investing in companies that behave like responsible stewards. The concept is that these companies will outperform companies that don’t behave responsibly. With more investment dollars following this strategy – often called Environmental, Social and Governance investing – investors and businesses are starting to create a virtuous circle. My book talks about the economic benefits and other favorable results this approach may help create.
I think Wall Street forgot its true mission, which is to connect people who have money with people who need money – and to do so in such a way that the economy grows and everybody benefits. Wall Street’s role is an intermediary role. Instead, certain firms acted like principals, trying to generate profits for shareholders and for their own accounts. That caused the system to break down – with too much risk being combined with too much leverage and too little capital.
I come from a long line of public servants. Each of the Tafts who came before me led with courage, integrity and conviction. So I think my family legacy, and the importance of core principals to my family during generations of public service, is what led me to express my deep commitment to service and stewardship throughout my career – and ultimately, to write this book.
I decided to contribute all the proceeds from the sale of my book to charity because I think it’s very important to support the communities where our clients and employees live and work. I also believe donating the money to help leave the world a better place is consistent with the message of the book, which is all about serving others.
I think we’re at an inflection point in the evolution of our financial system, as well as on other key societal issues such as fiscal policy, income inequality, resource scarcity, population growth and environmental change. If we want to make the world a better place, staying true to stewardship principles will help us choose the path to sustainability for us as individuals, as a society and as global citizens.
This is a book about the core principal of stewardship – which is a word that often means different things to different people. To me, stewardship is “the choice for service.” Readers will find out how stewardship failures on the part of some leaders in the financial services industry caused the pain we experienced the last four years – and how we all need to re-embrace stewardship values to solve globally important issues facing us today.