A Crisis of Trust: The Wolf of Wall Street

The recent movie The Wolf of Wall Street brings the excess greed and lack of moral integrity in the finance community to a new star-studded high. The movie sets a record for foul language and gratuitous greed. It has reignited wariness with Americans who still have a lack of trust in the financial industry. Surprisingly, research shows that ethical conduct is still an issue among the financial industry.

The Wolf of Wall Street tells the story of Jordan Belfort, a brash young stockbroker who carried out colossal fraud and money laundering schemes at Stratton Oakmont in the 1990s. After cooperating with the FBI, he served 22 months in federal prison for a scheme, which resulted in investor losses of approximately $200 million. Belfort was ordered to pay back $110.4 million that he swindled from stock buyers.

Investors Want to Trust Financial Advisors

In a recent survey in partnership with Edelman, CFA Institute found that retail clients overwhelmingly believe that trusting an adviser was the single most important factor in making a hiring decision. The survey found that clients viewed behavior such as transparent business practices, responsiveness in addressing issues, and integrity, as much more important than performance metrics. The Investor Trust Study surveyed over 2,100 retail and institutional investors in the United States, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Australia, and Canada, and finds that only 52% of investors trust investment managers.

The Importance of Ethical Conduct

In another report, CFA studied the culture within leading firms around the world in an attempt to better understand the importance placed on ethical conduct. Despite the near-unanimous agreement that ethical conduct was necessary and established at their firm, over half of respondents believe that career progression at their firm would be difficult without being “flexible” on ethical standards, and only 37% believe that better ethics lead directly to financial results. Just 43% said that their firm offers career or financial rewards for respecting the ethical code of conduct.

Where is the Integrity?

Are we at a crossroads? Is ethics in corporate America at cross purposes with financial performance?  At Integrity Solutions, we know that behavior based on ethical conduct and transparency is always the right decision. Our training is based on doing the right thing, always.



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