Money and lying seen to make a loving Wall Street couple
By Dian Vujovich
You don’t have to look any further than recent headlines to see that there is plenty of corruption within the financial industry on both sides of the pond. Whether it’s the big banks, like Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Barclay’s or credit card companies, making as much money as possible—at whatever cost– is the name of the today’s Wall Street game. And if there ever was a corporate conscious, its importance seems to have fallen by the wayside as gathering assets, up-ticks in per-share prices and making shareholders happy matter more than honest and fair business transactions.
Given that backdrop, the results of a recent survey by Labaton Sucharow ought to come as no surprise.
The survey asked 500 financial services professionals in the U.S. and the United Kingdom about their willingness to be a whistleblower when they saw wrongdoing in their workplace. Results were released in conjunction with the SEC’s new Whistleblower Eligibility Calculator a part of the SECs Whistleblower Program.
It was only a generation ago that fictional character Gordon Gekko’s “Greed is good” speech hit the silver screen in the movie Wall Street but oh what an impact those three words have had to anyone listening and believing they had merit.
I’ll leave my thoughts about the value and worth of those three words for another blog and use this one to highlight some of the results of the Labaton Sucharow survey. They include the following:
• 39 percent of those responding said that their competitors are likely to have engaged in illegal or unethical activity in order to be successful.
• 30 percent reported compensation or bonus plans were created to pressure or compromise ethical standards or violate the law; 23 percent reported other kinds of pressures that lead to unethical or illegal conduct.
• 30 percent felt that the SEC/SFO effectively deters, investigates and prosecutes misconduct—despite the new leadership, record enforcement actions and new reforms; 29 percent felt the same way about FINRA/FSA.
• 26 percent had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace.
• 24 percent of respondents believe that financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct in order to be successful.
And saving the best until last:
• 16 percent reported that they would commit a crime if they could get away with it.
“When misconduct is common and accepted by financial services professionals, the integrity of our entire financial system is at risk,” said Jordan Thomas, partner and chair of the Whistleblower Representation Practice at Labaton Sucharow. “In this era of corporate scandals, we must refocus our energies on corporate ethics and encourage individuals to report wrongdoing—internally or externally.”
And you wonder why the little guy/gal hates Wall Street, big banks and CEOs earning obscenely huge amounts of money.
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