Alex Edmans Black and White headshot

Alex Edmans

Expert on Purposeful Business, Author of “Grow the Pie”, TED speaker, Poets & Quants Professor of the Year, Speaker at the World Economic Forum

why book alex?

  • Bestselling author of “Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit”
  • Leading global authority on responsible business, sustainable finance and ESG investing
  • Dynamic speaker with a global presence, delivering TED/TEDx talks with 2.8 million views, presenting at the World Economic Forum in Davos and testifying in the UK Parliament
Alex Edmans Black and White headshot

Biography

Alex Edmans is Professor of Finance at London Business School. He is an expert in purposeful business/sustainable finance/responsible investing; diversity, equity and inclusion; practical investment strategies; the psychology of finance/behavioural economics; the use and misuse of data; and time management.

Alex has a unique combination of deep academic rigour and practical business experience. He is particularly noted for his ability to present complex concepts in non-technical language and an engaging, dynamic manner. Alex Edmans has spoken at the World Economic Forum in Davos, testified in the UK Parliament, and given the TED talk What to Trust in a Post-Truth World and the TEDx talks The Pie Growing Mindset and The Social Responsibility of Business, with a combined 2.8 million views. He previously served as Mercers’ School Memorial Professor of Business at Gresham College, giving a four-year programme of lectures to the public.

Alex is a leading figure in the reform of business to serve wider society. He serves as Non-Executive Director of The Investor Forum, on the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Future of Responsible Investing, and on Royal London Asset Management’s Responsible Investment Advisory Committee. The UK government appointed him (jointly with PwC) to study the alleged misuse of share buybacks and the link between executive pay and investment.

Alex Edmans Black and White headshot

Alex has written for the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Harvard Business Review and World Economic Forum and been interviewed by Bloomberg, BBC, CNBC, CNN, ESPN, Fox, ITV, NPR, Reuters, Sky News, and Sky Sports. His book, “Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit”, was a Financial Times Book of the Year and has been translated into nine languages. He is a co-author of the classic textbook “Principles of Corporate Finance” (with Brealey, Myers, and Allen). His latest book, “May Contain Lies: How Stories, Statistics, and Studies Exploit Our Biases – and What We Can Do About It” will be published by Penguin Random House in 2024.

Alex was named Professor of the Year by Poets & Quants in 2021. He has won 25 teaching awards at Wharton and LBS, featured in Thinkers50 Radar, and elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Topics

The Power of Purposeful Business

Purpose is the corporate buzzword of today, with politicians, the public, and even shareholders calling on businesses to serve wider society. But purpose is also controversial, because companies have a responsibility to deliver returns to investors. Is there a trade-off between purpose and profit, or is it possible for companies to achieve both? This talk will critically examine the case for purposeful business, using rigorous evidence and real-life examples to show what works – and, importantly, what doesn’t. It will discuss practical ways for businesses of all sizes to put purpose into practice – to ensure it guides a company’s day-to-day decisions, is embedded throughout the organisation, and enhances rather than jeopardises long-run shareholder returns.

ESG: The Beginning, the End, and the Future

ESG is at a peak. Companies are prioritising ESG issues, sometimes even more than mainstream business topics. Investors are selecting companies based on ESG rather than financial criteria, and engaging with companies to improve their ESG. But is ESG an unnecessary distraction that’s at the expense of financial performance? Isn’t it enough for a company to focus exclusively on profit, as long as it takes a long-term approach to profit? This talk will critically examine the case both for and against ESG, and set out a vision for the future of ESG – how companies and investors can reap its benefits while avoiding the controversies and politics.

Facts, Data, and Evidence: Knowing What To Trust

One of the most dangerous phrases is “evidence shows that …”, because you can almost always find evidence to support any viewpoint.  Experts are similarly untrusted, because they may have motives other than the truth.  These problems are particularly severe in the digital age where people are bombarded with data and supposed expert opinions.  This talk will explain the common mistakes people make in interpreting data, and the biases that cause us to make them. It will provide a practical guide for how to discern whether a particular study or expert opinion is trustworthy – even if we’re pressed for time and don’t have specialist knowledge in the field – and how to create a culture that actively promotes a diversity of thinking.

How Business Can Better Serve Society

Corporate businesses have lost the public’s trust. Since the financial crisis, there has been the strong view that the financial sector — which employs some of the highest-paid individuals — has little benefit for society. How do we know if businesses exist to make profits or to serve a purpose? How can businesses improve poor corporate governance?

Various remedies have been proposed, however, just like in medicine, diagnosis precedes treatment. Contrary to conventional wisdom that there is a trade-off between purpose and profit, Alex Edmans believes that there doesn’t need to be a trade-off at all.

In this presentation, Edmans will critically analyse the evidence on whether corporate activism is beneficial for long-term value, address best practices for shareholder engagement, and suggest policies to promote the “good” type of shareholder engagement.

Key takeaways:

What optimal governance should look like, including issues such as boardroom diversity, independence of directors, and employee representation.
How to promote the “good” type of shareholder engagement.

Sustainable Investing: Does it Work and How to Do It?

Interest in sustainable investing is at an all-time high, with savers flocking to ESG funds under the promise of both higher returns and positive social impact. At the same time, there’s a growing chorus of criticism with concerns that funds are “greenwashing” and making false promises. This talk will use rigorous evidence and real-life examples to explain what sustainable investing can realistically achieve, and the best way to do so. It will discuss how to implement sustainable investing in practice – how to handle controversial sectors such as energy and defence, how to overcome the challenges with unreliable data and inconsistent ESG ratings, and how to distinguish companies that are truly purposeful from those that are greenwashing.

Business Skills for the 21st Century

There are critical skills in business that are rarely taught at university or business school. Alex Edmans will share some of the key skills you need to succeed in business in the 21st century, including:

  • Time management
  • Public speaking
  • Pursuing a purposeful career
  • Mental and physical wellness
  • Critical thinking
  • Adopting a “growth mindset”

This presentation is both evidence-based and practical,  applicable to all ages and professions, and goes beyond what is traditionally taught.

Bias-Free Investing

Textbook finance theory assumes that investors are rational and markets are efficient. However, real-world investors are human and thus prone to biases. This talk will highlight the main biases that distort our trading decisions, and how to address them to make better investments, at both an individual and a team level. It will also illustrate how the biases of other investors cause markets to be inefficient – stock and bond prices can be overvalued or undervalued – and explain tried-and-tested investment strategies that take advantage of these mistakes.

Time Management in the Digital Age

Classic time management frameworks advise us to focus on the important rather than the urgent. However, these frameworks seem not to be applicable to the 21st century, where technology means that we are constantly bombarded with deadlines, and it is not realistic to simply ignore the urgent.  This talk will explain how to focus on important long-term goals but at the same time meet urgent short-term deadlines, how to use email as an effective communication tool without being overwhelmed with it, and how to instil superior time management practices within the teams that we lead. It will be based on insights from behavioural economics which demonstrate the most effective ways to develop new habits.

The Psychology of Business

Learn how World Cup football results can drive the stock market, why simply changing the name of a stock can cause its price to soar, and how gyms dupe us into buying memberships that we rarely use.

In this presentation, Alex Edmans illustrates how psychological biases can distort the financial decisions made by investors, CEOs, and citizens. He’ll explain how we can be on the lookout for these biases and harness this awareness to improve our own decision-making.

This talk is accessible for all ages and professions — think of it as a cross between “Freakonomics” and a TED talk but applied to every financial decision.

Alex Edmans

Masterclasses

You may want to go deeper with your audience. Masterclasses can be tailored and developed to suit your audience needs, be it a 90-minute Masterclass, a half-day or full-day workshop or a full online or face-to-face programme. Please contact one of our expert team to discuss.

Resources

Books

testimonials

“Dr Edmans was splendid this morning, we really enjoyed his talk, feedback has been great and he inspired some really interesting questions.”

“Real substance to the speaker based on facts and figures as opposed to the usual emotion.”

“Very inspiring speaker with very concrete evidence.”

“Really good to see his passion and he gave clarity to business which sometimes we all find difficult to understand.”

“Thank you for the extraordinary keynote you delivered on Wednesday – it was all we’d hoped for and more.”

“Great as helped us understand how our purpose drives us to succeed but that financial performance is important as provides us the freedom to continue to live and breathe our purpose.”

“A big thank you for your inspirational session today at X. We had a lot of fantastic feedback/comments on your session throughout the afternoon. It certainly got a lot of people talking! Thanks for all your hard work in preparation and delivery.”

“Alex was so engaging and presented fantastically. He allowed me to see this topic from a different viewpoint and really made me appreciate how I feel about us as a company and our balance between profit and purpose. “