Addressing 1,900 delegates at the ExCeL event today she spoke about historical and modern challenges to the capitalist system.
These included subjects as wide-ranging as Marxism, climate change, and the anger of millennials.
On climate change she said asset management needed to adapt to the concerns of society.
She said: “The move from ‘do no harm’ to ‘do good’ is one of the biggest shifts in asset management.”
She insisted firms had to be “aware of millennial anger” and pointed to a recent poll in the US which showed just 30% of the age group support capitalism.
The chief executive also spoke about the need for broader engagement of companies with their staff and cited US Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren’s Accountable Capitalism Act.
She said: “Capitalism works when the consensus view is the future is better than the past and rewards are on merit. That consensus is being challenged.”
She added: “Maybe we need a rethink in the wake of 2008.”
Concluding Ms Richards pleaded for the asset management profession “to come together in support of sustainable investing”.
The conference, which started on Sunday and concludes tomorrow, has the theme ‘Disruption: The New Reality in Investment Management’.
An overview of the conference on the CFA Institute website says: “Disruption is everywhere, affecting every aspect of our lives.
“From technological and business innovation to globalisation and demographic shifts, these forces are constantly evolving and accelerating at a significant pace.”
The conference will feature keynote speeches from noted economists, best-selling authors, leading researchers and successful practitioners, as well as experts on fintech, sustainable investing, wealth management, emerging markets and career management.