Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Financial Industry Culture of Illegal and Unethical Behaviour Getting Worse not Better

The Street, The Bull and The Crisis, a new survey of people working in financial services in the USA and the UK tells us the mind-numbing news that instead of getting better following the financial crisis, the attitude that doing illegal or unethical things is the way to success is getting worse. Reading through the stats in the report it is apparent that the bad attitude is endemic, it's the culture of the industry.

It's more than a bit worrying that the same type of behaviour that almost brought down the world's financial system is still rife. As authors Ann Tenbrunsel and Jordan Thomas warn, "Allowing the status quo to persist is an open invitation to the next, perhaps more devastating, financial crisis".

I cannot stop the miscreants from destroying the financial system, other than lobbying politicians and regulators to knock heads, but I can try to keep my personal money as far away as possible from such people (defined in the report as those with titles such as "account executives, financial / investment / wealth advisors, financial analysts, investment bankers, branch/operations management, and portfolio managers").by DIY investing in the simplest possible financial products with the least incentive or opportunity for rip-off, like GICs, low-cost passive ETFs, direct investments in selected company stocks or bonds. It's also a reason I like the CPP - the investment arm, the CPPIB, seems to have a governance structure more likely to curb illegal and unethical employees.

Thanks to Ken Kivenko, a member of the Ontario Securities Commission Investor Advisory Panel, for the heads up on this report.

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