What does 2019 hold?

by St Pauls Institute

Posted: 09 Jan 2019

There's no doubt 2019 is going to be a busy one, however Brexit turns out. But what will be the big questions we face this year?

We asked some leading thinkers to predict a challenge, opportunity or ethical dilemma likely to face the financial sector in the UK during the next twelve months...

Paul Mason, Journalist and Commentator

"Algorithmic trading poses one set of challenges, but the algorithmic control of human behaviour is a threat of a whole different order. In 2019 the debate on the ethics of artificial intelligence will spill over from the world of tech conferences into everyday life: instead of an ethics function, allied to the CSR department, corporations will for the first time in centuries be faced with dilemmas akin to moral philosophy."


Dr Ruth Valerio, Tearfund

"We need to invest quickly in wind and solar energy in the UK, and back it up with battery storage, in order to make sure that our emissions are lower, our air is cleaner and our power bills are lower. In uncertain times, will the financial sector keep increasing their investment?"


Prof Jagjit Chada, National Institute Economic & Social Research

"Given the huge cost to the economy, the financial sector has been quite properly asked to manage its risks better since the financial crisis but to what extent do tighter regulations help meet the requirements of society e.g. in terms of providing loans to SMEs, long term investment in British industry and chances for young people to start their lives and careers? Is finance sufficiently connected to the rest of country?"

Dr Eve Poole, Third Church Estates Commissioner

"Will 2019 be the year that traditional financial institutions finally lose their moral licence to operate? As challengers mature, and the incestuous character of sector transactions intensifies, there will be little support for a bail-out in the next crash. Only those with a compelling moral narrative will ultimately survive."

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol

"An opportunity for businesses in 2019 is to get really serious about the possibilities of place-based transformation. In Bristol we are developing a One City Plan with a connected City Office and City Funds, with businesses at the heart of that process. Getting out of our silos and working together for the common good is the only way we're going to solve the challenges we face, and businesses have a huge amount to bring to the table."

Iain Martin,
Times columnist

"Our financial sector thrives on open markets; that is, the free movement of capital in and out of the UK. An ethical dilemma looms for UK financial institutions if Labour's John McDonnell, a committed Marxist, becomes Chancellor. They will have to decide whether to stay and pay what he is likely to require, or move as much money as possible at high speed out of the country."

Elizabeth Oldfield, Theos

"There are a good number of church-based credit unions operating today - there should be more and they should be better. There is a huge opportunity for churches and Christians to model a different economic life, handling money and debt - one that demonstrates neighbourly love, is based on face to face relationships and strengthens community. Christians working in the financial and technology sectors in particular can make a big difference if they see the opportunity to invest some time and creativity to innovate in this area."

Carl Miller, Demos

"For years now, financial crime has been migrating online. Cyber-crime is a huge industry, but up till now its costs have largely been hidden; quietly borne by financial institutions who have seen it as the price to pay for cheaper, more frictionless online banking. 2019 may be the year when these mounting costs become too expensive and this calculus comes apart. Will they make more victims of cyber-crime pick up more of the costs of it?"

About this author

St Paul's Institute seeks to foster an informed Christian response to the most urgent ethical and spiritual issues of our times: equality, stewardship, and the meaning of the common good.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of St Paul's Institute or St Paul's Cathedral.