Meet Caroline Mason, co-founder of Investing for Good and chief officer of Charity Bank
Since the worldwide recession hit, investment banks have been heavily criticised for the excessive bonus payments of bankers and unethical investments. But meet Caroline Mason, co-founder of Investing for Good and chief operating officer of Charity Bank. Both companies are merging later this month.
In a telling description from an interview with the Guardian, Caroline recalls a meeting five years ago, when she was sitting in the flashy New York office of the managing director of a global finance company, having an all too familiar meeting about making rich people richer.
As they talked, Mason’s attention turned to the collection of superhero figures displayed around the MD’s room, and the uncomfortable thought that she was stuck in an industry gripped by a “masters of the universe” complex.
“It was all symptomatic of someone who was paid obscene amounts of money for doing something really quite basic, which was pretty useless in terms of the general lives of most people. He was just an average guy. He was probably in the top 0.1% of earners globally and I remember thinking: ‘This is out of control’,” she says.
When Mason realised her friend and fellow banker Geoff Burnand was feeling the same unease, they got together to found Investing for Good in 2005. It has gone from a backroom business to advising on £25m of investments, sealing partnerships with the likes of Standard Chartered, and this year merging with Charity Bank, which has pioneered lending to charities and social enterprises.
“Surely the function of finance and banking is to finance things for the benefit of society. It’s not a thing in itself. When did money become a thing in itself? Surely, it’s just a mechanism and that’s what banking and finance used to be about.”