Over 70% of financial professionals believe responsibility lies with individuals not firms to restore the public's trust in financial services

by Lora Benson | Jul 28, 2015

The majority of financial services professionals believe individuals, not institutions, should be responsible for restoring public trust in financial services, according to a recent survey* from the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI)

Although the high profile fines are levied on banks, 73% of  respondents to the CISI survey claimed that it is in fact the good behaviour of individuals which will help move financial services off the bottom of most trusted industry surveys (with 41% strongly agreeing and 32% tending to agree).

This will be heartening news to the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority, whose recent Fair and Effective Markets Review (FEMR), implemented in the wake of scandals in the fixed income, currency and commodities markets (FICC), pushed for greater individual accountability.

The survey asked: “Responding to the launch of the Fair and Effective Markets Review, the CISI noted ’However effective the training and procedures of a firm, individuals must be accountable for their own actions.’ When it comes to restoring trust in financial services, do you believe the responsibility lies more with individuals than institutions?”

One survey respondent said: “Yes certainly, individuals have more responsibility than the institution, it is we who are taking the institution to the next level. So, we definitely have a lot more responsibility than the institution”.

Another respondent stated that: “As individuals run institutions, so responsibility to restore trust must start with them.”

However, the survey findings, which drew over 600 respondents, also reflect the belief that institutions alone cannot impose rules which will restore the public’s trust, that to demonstrate the industry’s integrity, professionals must do more than toe the regulatory line. Instead individuals must show their clients, as well as the wider public, the higher standards which they hold themselves to.

The CISI has announced that over 25,000 sessions of IntegrityMatters, its online ethics workshop and test, have now been completed and this is a clear demonstration of financial professionals taking individual actions to show their commitment to integrity.

The test offers users six dilemmas, all of which are based on real life examples from the financial sector, but with widespread application in other sectors. Each dilemma evolves over a series of steps, with the choice of candidate response determining how the scenario develops.

The CISI website survey findings also reflect a speech given by Martin Wheatley of the FCA to the City & Financial Conference 14/7/15 in which he said: “At their heart organisations are simply collections of individuals arranged around a common goal. And the ‘culture’ of these organisations…dictate in reality the behaviours that are acceptable and those that aren’t. That is why it is so important to recognise that corporate accountability has to start with individual responsibility. The two go hand in hand”.

Simon Culhane, Chartered FCSI and CISI CEO said: “All professionals who join the CISI now have to undertake this test, to evidence their belief in a standard of integrity beyond compliance. The CISI is celebrating this commitment in our current advertising campaign, encouraging much-maligned financial professionals to “stand tall”, proud of the standards which they hold themselves to.”

Ends

*The CISI website survey ran for 5 weeks during June and July 2015.