The job of Happiness? The CFO. Marco Venturelli’s promise

by Filippo Poletti – on Bi MAG 21 June 2017

Be a CFO, and you can help make the world Happy. Marco Venturelli, Regional Europe Oncology CFO in Novartis is sure he can. So sure, he set up a dedicated blog, the happy cfo: «Companies – the manager says during 



The Embankment Project for Inclusive Capitalism (the “Embankment Project”) represents an important opportunity to transform the way businesses measure and report on the value they create for stakeholders. After three years of meeting at the Conferences on Inclusive Capitalism in London and NYC, it has become clear that there will not be progress toward Inclusive Capitalism unless there is real change in the workings of the capital markets. A new reporting mechanism is required for corporations to better measure and communicate the value they create for shareholders through their strategic attention to the broad base of their stakeholders: customers, employees, communities, government, and the environment.

In furthering their commitment towards Inclusive Capitalism, EY has developed a proof-of-concept framework that will be tested and further developed by some of the world’s largest asset owners, asset managers, and asset creators (corporations). The proposed framework would become a tool for asset owners and asset managers but also other stakeholders to understand, measure and compare the investments made by asset creators in their purpose, brand, intellectual property, products, employees, environment and communities.

Engagement of all parties across the investment value chain is essential to test and assess this new framework that enables companies to deliver trusted information to material stakeholders to improve the allocation of capital for the long term. We are bringing together over 30 global companies to embark on an 18-month journey to jointly develop, test and validate the EY developed long term value framework. With the representation of almost $30 trillion of assets under management, coupled with EY’s commitment to allocate leading professionals who are dedicated to pioneering a change to the way corporate value is measured and reported, we believe that together we can act as the catalyst for meaningful change.

Steven Pinker’s case for optimism

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress. By Steven Pinker. Viking; 576 pages; $35. Allen Lane; £25.

TO ANYONE who reads a newspaper, this can seem a miserable world. Syria is still at war. Another lunatic has gone on a gun rampage in an American school. The tone of political debate can rarely have been as crass and poisonous as it is today.

Front pages are grim for the same reason that Shakespeare’s plays feature a lot of murders. Tragedy is dramatic. Hardly anyone would read a story headlined “100,000 AEROPLANES DIDN’T CRASH YESTERDAY”. Bad things often happen suddenly and telegenically. A factory closes; an apartment block burns down. Good things tend to happen incrementally, and across a wide area, making them much harder to film. News outlets could have honestly reported that the “NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN EXTREME POVERTY FELL BY 137,000 SINCE YESTERDAY” every day for 25 years. But readers might get bored.

Negative news is one reason why people consistently underestimate the progress humanity is making, complains Steven Pinker. To discern the true state of the world, he says, we should use numbers. In “Enlightenment Now”, he does just that. The result is magnificent, uplifting and makes you want to rush to your laptop and close your Twitter account.

The world is about 100 times wealthier than 200 years ago and, contrary to popular belief, its wealth is more evenly distributed. The share of people killed annually in wars is less than a quarter of that in the 1980s and half a percent of the toll in the second world war. During the 20th century Americans became 96% less likely to die in a car crash, 92% less likely to perish in a fire and 95% less likely to expire on the job.

Mr Pinker’s best-known previous book, “The Better Angels of Our Nature”, showed that humankind has grown less violent. His new one demonstrates that steady, cumulative progress is occurring on many fronts. For this he credits the values of the 18th-century Enlightenment, summarised by Immanuel Kant as “Dare to understand!” By applying reason to problems, people can solve them—and move on to the next. Trade and technology spread good ideas, allowing rich countries to grow richer and poor ones to catch up.

Best of all possible worlds

Progress has often been stunningly rapid. The vast majority of poor Americans enjoy luxuries unavailable to the Vanderbilts and Astors of 150 years ago, such as electricity, air-conditioning and colour televisions. Street hawkers in South Sudan have better mobile phones than the brick that Gordon Gekko, a fictional tycoon, flaunted in “Wall Street” in 1987. It is not just that better medicine and sanitation allow people to live longer, healthier lives, or that labour-saving devices have given people more free time, or that Amazon and Apple offer a dazzling variety of entertainment to fill it. People are also growing more intelligent, and more humane.

In every part of the world IQ scores have been rising, by a whopping 30 points in 100 years, meaning that the average person today scores better than 98% of people a century ago. How can this be, given that intelligence is highly heritable, and clever folk breed no more prolifically than less gifted ones? The answer is better nutrition (“brains are greedy organs”) and more stimulation. Children are far likelier to go to school than they were in 1900, while “outside the schoolhouse, analytic thinking is encouraged by a culture that trades in visual symbols (subway maps, digital displays), analytic tools (spreadsheets, stock reports) and academic concepts that trickle down into common parlance (supply and demandon averagehuman rights).”

Mr Pinker contends that this braininess has moral consequences, since people who can reason abstractly can ask: “What would the world be like if everyone did this?” That is consistent with the observable spread of Enlightenment values. Two centuries ago only 1% of people lived in democracies, and even there women and working-class men were denied the vote. Now two-thirds of people live in democracies, and even authoritarian states such as China are freer than they once were.

Belief in equality for ethnic minorities and gay people has shot up, as demonstrated not only by polls (which could be biased by the knowledge that bigotry is frowned upon) but also by internet activity. Searches for racist jokes have fallen by seven-eighths in America since 2004. Those who enjoy them are dying out: online searches for racial epithets correlate with interest in “Social Security” and “Frank Sinatra”, Mr Pinker notes. Even the most conservative places are loosening up. Polls find that young Muslims in the Middle East are about as liberal as young western Europeans were in the early 1960s.

Many readers will find this bubbly optimism hard to swallow, like too much champagne. We may be materially richer, some will protest, but aren’t we less happy because we know that others have even more? We may have supercomputers in our pockets, but aren’t they causing an epidemic of loneliness among the young? And what about global warming or North Korea’s nuclear missiles?

Mr Pinker has answers for all these questions. In 45 out of 52 countries in the World Values Survey, happiness increased between 1981 and 2007. It rises roughly in line with absolute income per head, not relative income. Loneliness, at least among American students, appears to be declining. Global warming is a big threat, but not insurmountable. The number of nuclear weapons in the world has fallen by 85% since its peak.

The rise of populism challenges Mr Pinker’s thesis. Supporters of Donald Trump, Brexit and various authoritarian parties in Europe tend to believe that the old days were golden, that experts can’t be trusted and the institutions of liberal democracy are a conspiracy to enrich the elite. Some want to tear down these institutions and start again—which would at the very least interrupt the incremental progress that Mr Pinker champions.

Without downplaying the risks, he remains optimistic. The checks and balances that populists decry are reasonably effective in most rich countries and will outlast the current crop of demagogues. Supporters of populism will become disillusioned, or will simply die off. Mr Pinker draws especial comfort from the decline of faith. Worldwide, although 59% of people are religious, that share has fallen from nearly 100% a century ago. As people grow richer, he argues, they abandon the crutch of belief and rely more on reason.

Pessimism has its place—it fosters caution. And the human instinct to focus on problems is sound—it means they often get fixed. Nonetheless, Mr Pinker’s broad point is surely right. Things are not falling apart. And barring a cataclysmic asteroid strike or nuclear war, it is likely that they will continue to get better.


Le nuove frontiere della finanza



La finanza è come il genio della lampada. Lo strumento più potente che abbiamo per realizzare i nostri obiettivi. Il genio viene però spesso usato da apprendisti stregoni per coprire le falle del sistema e, nei momenti di apice delle diseguaglianze, per soddisfare l’imperativo di consumare di più guadagnando di meno. Le nuove frontiere della finanza si propongono invece di rispondere a due mali del nostro paese. La difficoltà delle piccole imprese di accedere al credito e i limiti nel finanziamento del welfare.

Ma la vera finanza creativa è un’altra e senza fare lo stesso rumore e clamore sta lentamente crescendo per risolvere i problemi dei cittadini. Banche cooperative e di territorio, fondi etici, banche etiche, microfinanza e bond ad impatto sociale sono gli strumenti più interessanti per aumentare la generatività della finanza al servizio del bene comune. Strumenti che nascono al principio come piccoli semi ma che poi germogliano e contagiano diventando patrimonio comune di tutto il mondo finanziario.

Le banche di credito cooperativonate storicamente in Italia nell’alveo della dottrina sociale, evitando il dogma della massimizzazione del profitto non s’imbattono nel paradosso di non aver alcun interesse a finanziare le piccole e medie imprese e le imprese artigiane che restano la parte principale del sistema produttivo del nostro paese. Ancora oggi i dati confermano che questo modello di banca finanzia quel segmento dell’economia in misura significativamente superiore. Le nuove nate banche etiche (raccolte a livello mondiale nell’alleanza della Global Alliance for Banking on Values e rappresentate in Italia da Banca Etica) hanno introdotto elementi d’innovazione e di generatività importanti che hanno parzialmente contagiato il resto del sistema. In primis il voto col portafoglio delle proprie scelte di finanziamento attraverso la doppia valutazione della profittabilità dell’investimento e della sua qualità sociale ed ambientale. Modalità che si è rivelata vincente anche per la riduzione dei crediti in sofferenza. Il modello prevede anche una forte partecipazione dal basso dei soci e una struttura delle remunerazioni lontana dagli eccessi del sistema bancario tradizionale. Il valore del suo impatto sociale è stato recentemente riconosciuto con una legge multipartizan che prevede agevolazioni fiscali per gli utili reinvestiti nel capitale. In un recente rapporto che confronta la performance delle grandi banche sistemiche e quella della Global Alliance negli ultimi venti anni le seconde fanno registrare una maggiore quota di attività bancaria tradizionale e, paradossalmente, anche maggiori utili indicando che il loro modello di sviluppo è interessante ed innovativo.

I fondi etici che votano con il portafoglio titoli investendo i soldi dei risparmiatori solo in quelle imprese quotate che superano standard minimi di sostenibilità sociale ed ambientale sono ormai diventati mainstream. Il seme gettato una decina di anni fa da Etica sgr in Italia è germogliato ed oggi una quota sempre maggiore di fondi utilizza lo stesso approccio. Un esempio di questa crescita è il Montreal Pledge, l’accordo con il quale un numero importante di fondi d’investimento le cui masse gestite assommano complessivamente a 12 trilioni di dollari ha deciso di iniziare a misurare l’impronta di carbonio del proprio portafoglio titoli con l’obiettivo di fare pressione sulle multinazionali dell’energia in direzione della decarbonizzazione.

La microfinanza produce soluzioni al problema della concessione del credito ai non bancabili, ovvero a coloro che non hanno quelle garanzie patrimoniali necessarie per accedere al credito degli intermediari tradizionali. La microfinanza è più forte dove la materia prima (non bancabili con buoni progetti imprenditoriali) è maggiore come nei paesi poveri ed emergenti ma si è sviluppata anche nei paesi ad alto reddito per favorire l’accesso al credito di fasce di popolazione più disagiate.

Le nuove frontiere della finanza si propongono in forme nuove di rispondere a due mali del nostro paese. La difficoltà delle piccole imprese di accedere al credito e i limiti nel finanziamento del welfare. Nel primo caso arrivano i nuovi strumenti dei Piani Individuali di Risparmio, fondi d’investimento con forti agevolazioni fiscali che devono obbligatoriamente investire il 22% delle masse gestite in piccole e medie imprese italiane. Lo strumento ha avuto una crescita enorme ma si è indirizzato prevalentemente verso l’ambito limitato delle piccole e medie quotate creando il rischio bolla speculativa. Per questo motivo nelle Settimane Sociali di Cagliari abbiamo proposto un emendamento per indirizzare, come avviene ad esempio nel Regno Unito, parte di queste risorse verso le piccole e medie imprese non quotate attraverso strumenti come i fondi chiusi (preferibilmente quelli ad impatto sociale) e l’equity crowfunding che è la raccolta in rete di capitale sociale.

I nuovi arrivati bond ad impatto sociale sono uno strumento interessantissimo per aumentare la leva finanziaria di progetti di welfare in un quadro di sussidiarietà, spinta verso la qualità in un contesto di riduzione di spesa pubblica. In sostanza stato e finanziatori privati individuano un ambito nel quale con un investimento di capitali sostanzioso è possibile migliorare la qualità del servizio affidandolo ai migliori del settore. Lo stato mette un fondo di garanzia che copre una piccola percentuale dell’investimento. Il resto è finanziato dal capitale privato. In caso di successo del progetto i proventi sono ripartiti tra stato e privato che ottiene una remunerazione del capitale competitiva. I social impact bond sono nati da poco e si stanno diffondendo rapidamente in diverse parti del mondo. I settori più promettenti di attuazione sono quelli del contrasto alla recidiva carceraria attraverso il finanziamento di progetti di lavoro in carcere o di giustizia riparativa, di intervento a favore di pazienti con problemi psichiatrici (budget di salute), di politiche di prevenzione sanitaria che possono ridurre l’insorgere di patologie e i costi di ospedalizzazione e di cura.

Tutte le iniziative di cui abbiamo parlato hanno una duplice caratteristica. Perseguono in primis un obiettivo di benessere equilibrato e sostenibile, ovvero sono al servizio di una creazione di valore economico che sia anche socialmente ed ambientalmente sostenibile. E, in secondo luogo, possono crescere ancora più rapidamente nella misura in cui i cittadini e i risparmiatori danno loro sostegno con il loro voto col portafoglio. Le vecchie e nuove frontiere della finanza per il bene comune sono grandissime occasioni di generatività e di ricchezza di senso per tutti noi piccoli e grandi risparmiatori. In un’ottica di economia a quattro mani dove i problemi del sistema e il cammino verso l’orizzonte del bene comune ha bisogno di tutti noi. Perché mercato e istituzioni non possono portarci da sole verso la meta senza la collaborazione della cittadinanza attiva e delle imprese responsabili.


A4S AIMS Inspiring action by finance leaders to drive a fundamental shift towards resilient business models and a sustainable economy


A4S works with Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) across the globe to integrate economic, environmental and social issues into business strategy, processes and decision making.

A4S's The CFO Leadership Network is the first grouping of its kind globally. Launched by HRH The Prince of Wales at St James’s Palace in December 2013, the Network brings together a group of leading CFOs from large businesses seeking to embed the management of environmental and social issues into business processes and strategy.

The Network provides a forum for CFOs and their teams to share knowledge and experience, demonstrate leadership and address common challenges to engage and enable the wider CFO community to embed sustainability into decision making in order to drive sustainable business models and a sustainable economy.

Money is a good servant but a terrible master

Do we truly understand finance? Do we have power over our financial system? In his talk, Bertrand explains that this power does not only lie within the hands of a few inaccessible institutions and that in fact we can all contribute to building an ethical financial system aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Happiness as a desirable and measurable goal of public policy in the UK and worldwide.

What is the role of Finance in Society, how Happiness and Finance can live together?

My inspiration is Robert J. Shiller’s "Finance and the Good Society": “What I want most for my students - he writes, – near and far, young and old – to know, is that finance truly has the potential to offer hope for a more fair, just - and Happy I add - world, and that their energy and intelligence are needed to help serve this goal.” 

Charles Murray - In Pursuit of Happiness and Good government

Charles Murray is the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. He has written numerous books, including Coming Apart, Losing Ground, Real Education, and Human Accomplishment. He is perhaps best known for coauthoring the 1994 New York Times bestseller The Bell Curve with the late Richard J. Hernstein.

"In Pursuit" begins by examining James Madison's statement: "A good government implies two things; first, fidelity to the object of government, which is the happiness of the people; secondly, a knowledge of the means by which that object can best be attained."

Drawing from his minimalist-government viewpoint, Murray proposes that government not try to force happiness on the people with federal policies or programs but, rather, that it provide conditions that enable people to pursue happiness on their own.

Charles Murray, looking 400 years from now to future human society, thinks that unless human beings have not been monumentally stupid and wealth has continued to increase, the way to run societies will be without these huge bureacracies filled with people telling each other how to live.

Everyone will be rich enough to live a meaningful life earning success, overcoming challenges as humanity is evolutionary hard wired and wants to exercise personality.

😀 HAPPINESS 101 with Harvard Positive Psychology Expert

If you’ve ever wanted to get happier, be happier, or find more happiness in your life, then do we have the Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment show for you.

Adam Smith’s Underappreciated Wisdom on Benevolence, Happiness, and Kindness

The great Scottish moral philosopher, political economy pioneer, and Enlightenment maven Adam Smith (June 16, 1723–July 17, 1790) is best known for authoring the 1776 masterwork The Wealth of Nations — a foundational text of behavioral economics two centuries before behavioral economics existed. It originated the famous “invisible hand” metaphor for how socially beneficial outcomes can be traced back to the self-interested actions of individuals. True to our modern incapacity for nuance, Smith’s “invisible hand” has come to symbolize a rather bleak view of the human spirit as bedeviled by inescapable selfishness. And yet Smith’s own views were more generous and elevating — something he explored in his eclipsed but excellent earlier work, the 1759 treatise The Theory of Moral Sentiments, full of timeless wisdom on ambition, success, good personhood, the far-from-linear relationship between money and happiness, and that wonderfully old-fashioned notion of “benevolence,” so urgently needed in our divisive world today.

Il Mestiere della Felicità. Il CFO

the Happy CFO is able to optimize use of financial resources and drive the economic growth


 CFO’s scope is the optimization of resources to favor economic growth

Venturelli changed the current game: contrary to the CFO with cold analyzer glasses – often unsatisfied for the many requests and the few available resources – the Happy CFO is able to optimize use of financial resources and drive the economic growth. One of the measures of happiness: «At the end of 2016 – he says – my division reached exceptional results in terms of growth, profitability, return on investment and market share. All the objectives were reached and overcame. Then I thought to thank the team with a card signed: “The happy CFO”». 


According to Thomas Jefferson, third American president, happiness is the objective of a good government

Venturelli knows that well: according to the proverb, “money does not buy happiness”. However they contribute to create it: «While it is true that economic growth alone does not generate happiness, according to UN Happiness report, we notice how the GDP per capita and life expectancy explain 30% of a Country happiness».Also included in the last ‘Documento di Programmazione Finanziaria’ of the Italian Government – Venturelli suggests–, «environmental sustainability, quality of work, health and level of education concur to the societies well being». That Happiness, as suggested by Thomas Jefferson, third American President, should be the objective of a good government.  



 Is it possible during years of economic and financial crisis, to mend the trust between the civil society, companies and more in general Finance? According to Venturelli – expert of Francesco Morace’ s theories included in the book Crescita felice – says the answer is yes: «If we want our companies keep their success, we should listen to consumers and investors more and more carefully about the results reached in terms of sustainability and reputation».

The Happy CFO’s recipe is simple and, at the same time, very challenging: «Our companies will continue to be profitable and generate work for our great-grandchildren, if the CFOs convince their CEOs that short term orientation, not balanced with objectives of environmental and social sustainability, will not last long.». Like in the Movies, “a happy ending”; a Happy CFO.



Il mestiere della felicità? Quello del CFO. Parola di Marco Venturelli di Filippo Poletti – 12 giugno 2017



Compito del CFO
 è l'ottimizzazione dell’uso delle risorse finanziarie per favorire la crescita economica

Compito del CFO è l’ottimizzazione dell’uso delle risorse finanziarie per favorire la crescita economica

Venturelli spariglia le carte: al CFO dai freddi occhiali dell’analizzatore – spesso insoddisfatto per le troppe richieste e le poche risorse disponibili in azienda – oppone l’immagine del felice CFO, capace di ottimizzare l’uso delle risorse finanziarie e indirizzare la crescita economica, uno dei parametri di misurazione della felicità: «Alla fine del 2016 – racconta – la mia divisione ha raggiunto risultati eccezionali per quanto riguarda la crescita, la redditività e il successo sul mercato. Tutti gli obiettivi sono stati raggiunti e superati. Pensai, dunque, di ringraziare tutta il team con un biglietto augurale firmato “The happy CFO”».



Secondo Thomas Jefferson, terzo presidente americano, la felicità è l’obiettivo del buon governo

Secondo Thomas Jefferson, terzo presidente americano, la felicità è l’obiettivo del buon governo

Venturelli lo sa bene: come dice il proverbio, i soldi non fanno la felicità. Contribuiscono, tuttavia, a crearla: «Se è vero che la crescita economica da sola non genera felicità, nell’Happiness report delle Nazioni Unite vediamo come il GDP pro capite e le aspettative di vita siano alla base del 30 per cento di felicità di un paese»

Com’è indicato anche nell’ultimo documento di programmazione finanziaria del Governo italiano – ricorda Venturelli –, «la sostenibilità dell’ambiente, la qualità del lavoro, la salute e il livello di istruzione concorrono al benessere di una società». Quella felicità, appunto, indicata da Thomas Jefferson, terzo presidente americano, come l’obiettivo del buon governo.



Francesco Morace,
 autore del libro "Crescita felice"

Francesco Morace, autore del libro “Crescita felice”

È possibile, in anni di crisi economica e finanziaria, ricucire il legame di fiducia tra la società civile, le imprese e, più in generale, la finanza? Per Venturelli – profondo conoscitore delle teorie di Francesco Morace presentate nel libro Crescita felice – certo che sì: «Se vogliamo che le nostre imprese abbiano ancora successo, dobbiamo ascoltare i consumatori e gli investitori, sempre più attenti ai risultati raggiunti in termini di sostenibilità e di reputazione».

La ricetta del CFO felice è semplice e, allo stesso tempo, impegnativa: «Le nostre imprese continueranno a essere profittevoli e dare lavoro ai nipoti dei nostri nipoti, se i CFO convinceranno i CEO che l’orientamento al breve periodo, non bilanciato da obiettivi di sostenibilità ambientale e sociale, non porta lontano». Come si direbbe al cinema, “lieto fine”. Happy CFO.

  • Happiness has fallen in America

    The USA is a story of reduced happiness. In 2007 the USA ranked 3rd among the OECD countries; in 2016 it came 14th. The reasons are declining social support and increased corruption and it is these same factors that explain why the Nordic countries do so much better.

  • Headlines FOR 2017

    * Norway tops the global happiness rankings

    * Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland & Finland complete the top 5

    * Happiness is both social and personal

    * People in China are no happier than 25 years ago

    * Happiness has fallen in America

  • GDP, Money, Companies and Happiness

    Measuring Happiness not only at Country and Society as the World report does but at a Company level could contribute to monitor more frequently this key variable for individual and companies well being.





Test your Happiness level today




Good Government

Thomas Jefferson said that “the care of human life and happiness … is the only legitimate object of good government". American Declaration of independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness".

I hope you will enjoy reading and sharing on these topics

Marco Venturelli