THE BLOG
07/27/2016 11:37 am ET Updated Jul 28, 2017

Mark Wilson, Group Chief Executive at Aviva plc discusses the meaning of Inclusive Capitalism

Mark Wilson
Group Chief Executive, Aviva plc

I have always been crystal clear why I'm in business: so we can make a greater positive impact each year on the lives of our customers and clients and society as a whole. Making a profit is a by-product - albeit a very important one - of that core activity. We create financial value for shareholders - but only if we create social value for customers and society.

And I'm just as clear that the best way for capitalism to become more inclusive is for it to be allowed to create economic growth. That means the fruits of growth can be shared by an ever-greater proportion of the population. If you're baking a cake, it stands to reason that the bigger the cake, the more people can enjoy a slice of it.

If this is what we strive to achieve, it follows that our activities benefit society today - but they will also continue to have a positive impact in the future. That is why at Aviva one of our company values is to 'create legacy' or, as I call it, be a good ancestor. And the best way for inclusive capitalists to create legacy is by deploying patient capital, rather than starting a conflagration with hot money. So we invest in the companies that will create jobs and growth or the infrastructure that is essential to any successful economy: a happy marriage of value for society and value for us as a business.

But one of our biggest challenges is that governments add fuel to hot money with inconsistent policies. That means we all get burnt in a forest fire of regulation. I think the obsession with quarterly results for listed companies is profoundly damaging for business and, as a consequence, for society. But regulators, exchanges and accounting principles can all force us to focus on the short term. Sometimes it feels like I have trained for a marathon - but as I stand at the starting line I am told that in fact the only race is a series of 100m sprints and that all other races have been cancelled.

So my philosophy is to build constructive relationships with policymakers and regulators so we can correct market, regulatory and policy failures and shape markets that work for business and for society as a whole.

I worked for many years in developing and emerging economies. I have seen the unacceptable face of capitalism - with business coming in, making a quick buck and getting out. Far more often, though, I have seen that capitalism is one of the greatest forces of liberation in history, taking hundreds of millions out of poverty and transforming their prospects. Inclusive capitalism is about capturing that spirit - and making the fruits of that liberation attainable for millions more