Relational finance starts from the assumption that finance is a means, not an end. A better society is not, in the first instance, just one with more resources, but one in which relationships work well.
The link between finance and relationships is revealed most acutely by debt, whether personal, corporate or sovereign. Homes put up as mortgage security are lost. Companies unable to repay loans may wind up in administration. Nations can be subjected to austerity regimes. All of which have further consequences for many sets of relationships.
Finance does, though, have a positive purpose and can strengthen relationships. It can encapsulate shared purpose and bring people together. It enables people to do more than they could with just their own resources. And the benefits can multiply as this creates further opportunities for others.
If we recognise that finance has a profound impact on relationships, and that relationships create new mechanisms and opportunities for finance, then we can ensure that the relational consequences of finance are not just a by-product of decisions shaped by other priorities.
Policy influences the ways in which finance impacts relationships. And innovations such as fintech and social finance create new relational opportunities and dividends. Relational thinking and practice is therefore needed to harness the powerful force of finance.