Time To Get Ethical ?

Antony Jenkins Barclays

Here's the latest from our Highly Placed Professional

How refreshing it was to see CEO Antony Jenkins going all ethical on us, and his hapless staff at Barclays.

I've been going on for years about the need for investment and market professionals to reign in their morbid greediness and show some decency and restraint. In fact, when I think of some of the wrongdoing perpetrated against the public by powerful investment banks, it makes my blood boil.

The problem, however, is a simple one - human nature. Most of us like to think that if we win the lottery, we'll hang up our boots and never work again. The truth is, of course, that market pros are driven people, and the guys making the big money are the most driven of all. That's why you hear of hedge fund tycoons and investment bank partners getting all pissy when they 'only' get paid $10m or something, and walk out the door to earn even more.

The modern-day capital markets system is perfectly set up to encourage short cuts, taking risk without authority (all those rogue trader rascals), mis-selling, short-termism, and sheer criminality like insider trading and manipulating interest rates. We need a much more stringent regulatory environment, especially one that which reduces leverage to the minimum, and inflicts severe punishment on malefactors. We also need much better management oversight of market professionals' daily activities.

But the fact remains that industries, and the people that work in them, are never that good at policing themselves. The financial crisis has shown us that for the capital markets industry and society, it's time we all became a lot more ethical ourselves, and that ethical behaviour is rewarded in much the same way as good teamwork is. We need to encourage everyone to remain on the straight and narrow, and threaten dire retribution when they fall short. You think the City and Wall Street would ever work without tough love ? Think again. It's a brutal money-grabbing world, but we must all play a part in making it a better one.

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