5 Years Later, Consumers Still Don't Trust Wall Street

September 26, 2013

Jordan A. Thomas discusses the research conducted by American Enterprise Institute and Labaton Sucharow about Americans' attitudes toward Wall Street and financial professionals

"One of the key findings [of the Labaton Sucharow research] is that Wall Street faces a serious and growing ethical crisis," Thomas said. "Misconduct was both common and accepted. Over half of respondents said their competitors were probably breaking the law and 23% said they knew someone in their own firm was doing so.

"The financial services industry has made great strides, starting with the Dodd-Frank Act," Thomas continued. "Regulation alone cannot fix these problems; policies and procedures don't get at the heart of the problem. An opportunity for the industry is to work on establishing a culture of integrity. Junior personnel were more likely to be aware of illegal behavior than senior counterparts. There's an opportunity for a responsible organization to provide more training."

He noted, too, that the cost to an unethical firm is more than monetary. "If organizations don't make it a high priority to establish a culture of ethical behavior and internal reporting, the cost will be much higher in monetary terms as well as reputational harm."