Importance of Ethical Conduct in Financial Services
Ensuring ethical conduct is crucial within the financial services industry, where the reputation of financial advisers and firms hinges on their integrity and client treatment. This blog post delves into the significance of ethical behaviour, focusing on codes of ethics, particularly the Chartered Insurance Institute’s (CII) code, and the role it plays in maintaining high professional and ethical standards. Discover why ethics matter in financial services and how unethical behaviour can impact trust, reputation, legal compliance, and professionalism. This article is particularly relevant to the CII’s R01 and CF1 exams.
This article is correct as at 3 May 2023.
A code of ethics is a set of guidelines and principles that outlines the standards of conduct expected of individuals within a particular profession, firm or organisation. Within the financial services industry, a financial adviser’s Statement of Professional Standing (SPS) confirms that they have adhered to the issuer’s code of ethics.
Ethical conduct is essential. Financial advisers and firms who have a history of treating their clients well will build a positive reputation, whereas those who lack integrity in their dealings with clients will not be recommended and may face regulatory or even legal sanctions.
Ethical conduct is about making decisions and taking actions based on sound moral principles. In the context of financial services, it is about putting the interests and well-being of clients above those of the financial adviser and their firm.
Codes of Ethics
Codes of ethics provide guidance on the standards of conduct that are expected of those who are required to adhere to them. As this article is targeted at those taking examinations with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), we’ll focus on the CII’s code of ethics, but be aware that each organisation’s code will be different, although the central themes may well be similar.
The CII is committed to setting, maintaining and supporting high professional and ethical standards in insurance and financial planning. As such, its members are required to:
- Comply with the Code and all relevant laws and regulations.
- Act with the highest ethical standards and integrity.
- Act in the best interests of each client.
- Provide a high standard of service.
- Treat people fairly regardless of: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex and sexual orientation.
Any member who breaches the CII’s code of ethics may face disciplinary proceedings. These proceedings are typically held in public and the outcomes, which may include not being able to sit CII exams in the future and, ultimately, expulsion from the CII, are also published.Discover the power of ethical conduct in financial services. Uphold professionalism, build trust, and make a positive impact. Click To Tweet
Why do ethics matter in financial services?
Ethical behaviour is especially important in financial services for a number of reasons, including:
- Trust: Clients rely on financial advisers and other professionals within the industry to act in their best interests and to handle their money and investments with integrity and honesty.
- Reputation: Unethical behaviour can damage the reputation of the entire industry and has, in the past, led to a loss of public trust and confidence that the industry and its regulator have worked hard to restore.
- Legal and regulatory requirements: Financial advice is subject to a wide range of legal and regulatory requirements. Ethical behaviour can ensure these requirements are met and sanctions are avoided.
- Professionalism: Financial advisers are professionals. Upholding ethical standards is essential for maintaining the professionalism of individuals and the industry as a whole.
What to do about unethical behaviour?
While we would like to think that all those working within the industry behave ethically, we know that this is not always the case. Ideally, concerns should initially be reported internally through a supervisor or a firm’s own whistle-blowing procedures. If that is not appropriate, perhaps because the behaviour relates to a supervisor or the individual does not feel comfortable reporting internally, the individual should contact the relevant regulatory authority, which will usually be the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The whistle-blower’s identity will be protected, and the FCA has the power to investigate concerns and apply any necessary sanctions.
Grab the resources you need!
Prepare for your CII R01 exam with confidence! Ease your nerves by trying out a free taster of Brand Financial Training’s mock exam papers. Download the R01 mock exam taster now and get a glimpse of what to expect. Click the link to get started!
Alternatively, you can download a taster for CF1 if you’re studying for that exam.