What exactly is an “investor”? Technician or good father? A casino player or an entrepreneur? Discussion with Luc de Brabandere, corporate philosopher and fellow of the BCG Henderson Institute.
50 years ago, I started my career in banking. At the time, the star was the director of the credits. By exaggerating a little, in banking, either you became the director of the credits, or you had missed your life! We then built a trading room, for which I took charge of the IT systems. And fifteen years later, the star had become the trader! I literally saw this transformation take place in front of my eyes. The “deal” has dethroned investment. An essential function has lost its importance in favor of another which, through financial engineering, has found itself totally disconnected from the real economy.
It's a bad thing! I think that the profession of investor is alienated and that we have to return to the original spirit of the investor, to return to the spirit of the “credit man”. He thinks in the long term, he knows his job, he has a responsible posture. Besides, for me, “short-term investing” is an oxymoron! We are closer to the casino, it is no longer an investment. In the casino, we "bet" on a number, we do not "invest" on this number. We are in betting, which is the antithesis of investing.
For me too, freedom of enterprise is sacred! And to undertake is precisely to get involved or “invest oneself”– and therefore necessarily to be concerned about the long term.
It is necessary to find the forms of investment most likely to reconcile economy and ecology, both being of equal importance. I believe that we must continue to undertake, and therefore to invest, taking into account the limits of the planet. The model I believe in is that of the "mission-driven company".
This means that you believe in a world that will reconcile economy and ecology. And you think nobody beats the market in the long run, which is completely rational. In any case, the reverse is not rational! It reminds me of that joke: "Most people think they drive better than average." It is obviously impossible!
I invest in your generation, that of my children, those who are 30 or 40 years old. I think my generation is very responsible towards yours. We had everything but we put the world in debt, financially and ecologically. When we arrived on the job market, unemployment did not exist! So first, I encourage as far as I can long-term projects led by the generation that follows me, such as Cartoonbase or Ma Ferme cooperative near Enghien. Second, I invest in education by teaching at the university. And finally, I invest in nature by planting trees. I planted 500 with my wife when we were newlyweds, and 2000 ten years ago on a piece of land next to mine that I was lucky enough to be able to buy. All of this is real, and above all for the long term!