Luke 12: 13-21

15 And he said to them, ‘Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.’

Accountants encounter greed on a daily basis, where is the line between goals and success and the excesses of greed, Steve gives us a recent history of greed over the last 4 decades.

Let’s start in the 1980’s

Mrs Thatcher believed that if taxes were cut people would voluntarily support local services and charities

Mrs T famously said “there is no such thing as society.” What she meant was the concept of society was misleadingly used to infer the state was responsible for correcting every human ill. She argued that individuals and local communities were the necessary agents of change and social improvement rather than the state.

She was appalled by the lack of charitable spending by many financial executives in the City of London. Executives’ bonuses rose to unparalleled heights (thanks to deregulation and tax reforms), but their charitable spending did not.

The 1980’s were a turbulent economic time, interest rates of 15%, 1 in 10 unemployed, 2 million home owners in negative equity, poverty in Britain hit an all time high at 22%.

In 1987 the film Wall Street came out and a fictional character Gordon Geeko declared that Greed was good, his speech characterised the 1980’s, he said

The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed – for lack of a better word – is good

Greed is right

Greed works

Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.

Greed, in all of its forms – greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge – has marked the upward surge of mankind

Harry Enfield’s character Loads of Money was number 4 in the UK charts in 1988. His comedy character was a plasterer who earned excessive amounts of money.

It set the path of greed for generations to come.

In the 1990’s Nick Leeson became famous as the Rogue Trader who brought down the City’s oldest merchant bank, Barings, with losses of £827m. He said in his autobiography ‘We were all driven to make profits, profits, and more profits’.

In 2007-8 we had the financial crisis, thousands lost their jobs, governments had to take over and fund banks and years of austerity followed.

At that time construction contracts stopped, banks recalled loans and many constructions companies and developers went into liquidation.

But greed never stops, only last year we have the collapse of Carillion

Frank Field, chair of the Works and Pensions select committee, is quoted as saying ‘Same old story. Same old greed. A board of directors too busy stuffing their mouths with gold to show any concern for the welfare of their workforce or their pensioners’

When will we learn!!

Greed is definitely not good! It destroys lives

How can we change our culture from ‘Greed is good’ to ‘Giving is better’

Can we stop seeing greed as success?

Its not what you have that matters its what you do with it that counts

Some are trying to make a difference, Bill & Melinda Gates created a foundation in 2000, its believed to be the largest foundation in the world and believes that ‘all lives have equal value’

Roger Federer has spent $13.5m on 81 Pre-schools for Malawi.

The UK is 9th in the World Giving Index (the Guardian)
73% of the population give to charity
29% Volunteer their time
58% have helped a stranger
The most generous countries are Australia and New Zealand


To stop greed we need to look at ourselves and consider our own actions, greed is a state of mind, which means we can control it and overcome it. We can still have goals but consider what we need and what we don’t need!

Remember the second most important commandment – Love your neighbour as yourself