Wall Street Cheating

(Photo: Fang Guo)

A new survey of 500 financial service professionals in the U.S. and the U.K. finds that 26 percent of survey respondents “had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace” and almost 25 percent “believed that financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct in order to be successful.”  

Depending on your worldview, you may read that previous paragraph and think, Oh my goodness, that’s outrageous! Or, conversely, you might think Only 26 percent?!

The survey further notes:

16% of total respondents were at least fairly likely to engage in insider trading if they could get away with it. Perhaps more troubling, only 55% of all respondents could say definitively that they would not engage in insider trading if they could make $10 million with no risk of getting arrested.

Again, that last sentence might seem damning to some while others might say $10 million and no risk — where do I sign?

Nineteen percent of men said they’d consider insider trading compared to only 10 percent of women. Which means, perhaps, that a) men are less honest (because they’d cheat); or b) men are more honest (because they’ll admit to a surveyor that they would cheat). And/or: remember the macho trading culture.


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  1. James says:

    The only surprise in this data is that the percentage willing to cheat is so low.

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  2. Jacques LaPain says:

    A quarter are willing to engage in wrongdoing. The other three-quarters believe that it can’t be wrong if they were incentivized to engage in the behavior.

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  3. joe j says:

    Wondering what the numbers would be if you surveyed, other occupations. Such as police or politicians or lawyers. Of course you would have to get them to agree what wrongdoing meant.

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    • LordPuffaloom says:

      Yeah, try getting law enforcement (and anyone ivolved in the judicial system) to agree that anything they do is somehow “wrong?!”. If you somehow re-instilled a sense of scruples in them, how could they live without nausea, knowing that they are in fact the real terrorists?

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  4. Ryan says:

    Let me be the first to say:

    “Only 26 percent?!”

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  5. RJ Roy says:

    “Only 26%?!”

    Of course, to go with that, that’s 26% of people who WITNESSED (or admitted to doing) wrongdoing. It’s probably fair to say that the percentage of actual wrongdoing is higher, even if you factor in that the 26% of respondants likely includes a number of people who witnessed the same wrongdoing. Which probably makes the whole thing worse…

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  6. Carl Rosin says:

    Unfortunately, this starts young, and starts with a culture in which the trappings of success are more honored than the act of achieving, probably because it’s easy for an observer to measure ostensible success and hard for an observer to pay attention to anything long enough to assess process. So many forces to blame: organizations/schools developing foolish assessment/incentivization schemes — Campbell’s Law pointed out this problem long ago — and some parents thinking the ends justify the means and some teachers giving meaningless work and some media promoting bad behavior. I am a teacher and parent too, and I have many friends in both camps who are raising kids with character. It can be done, given vigilance and hard work and caring — not simply punishment.

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  7. Fahad says:

    Teaching ethics won’t cut it. Fact remains, we are engrossed in consumerism and will never be satisfied because our wants keep turning into needs! We worship wealth, material, power and ego victories. Business school taught me that successful=wealthy. If I wanted to learn how to live a satisfied life instead of a glamorous life, I wouldn’t spent on the business degree!

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  8. frankenduf says:

    the survey creates a straw man- obviously there r laws on the books that clearly state if bankers are found conspiring in the largest financial fraud in history, then there will be mandatory sentencing which includes a minimum of 2 years…- o waiddaminute, im thinking of the penalty for a dimebag…

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