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Ethics in finance: stuck at mediocre

Stan Alcorn May 19, 2015
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Ethics on Wall Street continues to be a struggle, according to a survey of more than 1,200 financial professionals conducted by the University of Notre Dame and law firm Labaton Sucharow. 

John Boatright, professor of business ethics at the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago, used a previous version of the survey in his class on ethics in finance.

“People recognize that there is a problem,” he says. 

One reason for the problem may simply be the finance industry’s necessary emphasis on money. Paul Piff,  assistant professor of psychology and social behavior at UC Irvine, says research shows merely being exposed to money can make people act unethically, and in their own interest.

Changing that requires a counter-incentive, says Bill Black, white collar criminologist and professor of law and economics at University of Missouri-Kansas City — like putting law-breaking bankers in prison.