A recent survey of 500 financial services professionals, conducted by market researcher Populus at the behest of law firm Labaton Sucharow, turned up some surprisingly candid results from the folks surveyed. For example:
- 39% of financial industry insiders surveyed “reported that their competitors are likely to have engaged in illegal or unethical activity in order to be successful.”
- And this was more than just suspicion. “26% of respondents indicated that they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace.”
- Nearly one in four “believed that financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct in order to be successful.
- Nearly one in three said they themselves felt “pressured by bonus or compensation plans to violate the law or engage in unethical conduct.
But pressure need not be succumbed to. Surely these financial industry professionals put their ethics, and the interests of their clients, ahead of personal gain, right?
Well … not necessarily.
- 16% of respondents admitted that they — personally — would break the law by trading on insider information “if they could get away with it.”
- Fewer than half could say unequivocally that they would not engage in insider trading in a situation where they knew for sure that they would get away with it.
- What’s more, chances are they can get away with it. Because “only one in four financial services professionals believe [financial watchdogs such as the SEC or other government regulators] are effective.”