Economist, Heretic, Activist: Brett Scott

As an economist with my own visceral response to the economic status quo, I was interested to discover a fellow Grahamstownian with a really interesting take on finance.

BrettBrett Scott is a former broker, living in London. He is a fellow at the WWF/ICAEW Finance Innovation Lab and can be aptly described as a financial activist (I like to think his two year stint as a broker was more of a spy job). He is a really rad dude with deliciously radical ideas and has recently written a book called The Heretics Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money, which is being published by Pluto Press and is coming out next month. Click here to read more about it and to preorder a copy if it interests you. Hopefully I can get my hands on one!

Brett’s latest endeavour is to start a School of Economic Activism in London, a centre that offers learners the opportunity to better understand and grapple with the financial system. The world needs an extensive network of engaged financial watchdogs in all major global financial centres”, writes Brett.

The school will offer what Brett calls “mischievous courses” that emphasize experiential learning that is embedded in the financial system itself. It will offer a Chartered Financial Activist Programme, a cheeky, heretical take on the mainstream Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) programme. “It will be based on adventurous, experimental courses that immerse campaigners within the financial dark arts…” says Brett. The syllabus he is planning will address five core areas:

  • Money
  • The financial intermediaries that steer money around the world
  • The main instruments they use to do that
  • The major problems associated with that
  • How we might do it differently through alternative modes of finance

Whilst studying economics at university, I often pondered the logic of capital flows, the de facto functionality of capital markets and the ability of capital to truly find its most valuable and logical destination. I find it overwhelming, too, that we have created such a complex beast, that we ourselves cannot understand let alone predict the behaviour of this intangible thing we call “the market system”. Now we surrender ourselves en masse to its erratic moods and outright failures; we sacrifice our poor to its unrelenting suppression; and we watch a cunning few prosper in isolation for a while.

I’ve spent the last year working for an economics consulting company in Johannesburg, and focused my efforts mostly on projects relating to Financial Education. Although the kinds of programmes I worked with primarily targeted low income beneficiaries and addressed basic financial capabilities, I truly believe in the importance of empowering individuals to navigate the financial system, and to learn to use it to their own benefit. A school of financial activism is right up my street! Go Brett!

Check out Brett’s video on Indiegogo for more information on his School of Economic Activism, and for details of how you can help him fund this venture. He’s got some innovative, mutually beneficial packages available. Brett also writes a blog called Suitpossum: Post-Crisis Adventures in Financial Subversion, where he discusses gripping finance-related topics in superb style. I love his use of art and photography in his posts.

I think Brett Scott is someone to watch. I’m really excited about his school, and I will certainly be keeping an eye on him.

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