Labaton Sucharow LLP today announced the results of its survey of 500 financial services professionals across the United States and United Kingdom. Conducted by Populus in June, Wall Street, Fleet Street and Main Street: Corporate Integrity at a Crossroads reveals startling data on corporate ethics, the regulatory landscape, and individuals' willingness to blow the whistle on wrongdoing. The survey is being released in conjunction with the launch of the firm's SEC Whistleblower Eligibility Calculator, an innovative web-based tool to enable users to assess their eligibility for the SEC Whistleblower Program.
According to the survey, 24 percent of respondents reported a belief that financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct in order to be successful, while 26 percent of respondents indicated that they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace. Particularly troubling, 16 percent of respondents reported that they would commit a crime—insider trading—if they could get away with it.
"When misconduct is common and accepted by financial services professionals, the integrity of our entire financial system is at risk," said Jordan Thomas, partner and chair of the Whistleblower Representation Practice at Labaton Sucharow. "In this era of corporate scandals, we must refocus our energies on corporate ethics and encourage individuals to report wrongdoing—internally or externally."
Labaton Sucharow's survey also revealed the following:
39 percent of respondents reported that their competitors are likely to have engaged in illegal or unethical activity in order to be successful;
30 percent of respondents reported their compensation or bonus plan created pressure to compromise ethical standards or violate the law, while 23 percent of respondents reported other pressures that may lead to unethical or illegal conduct; and
30 percent of respondents feel that the SEC/SFO effectively deters, investigates and prosecutes misconduct—despite the new leadership, record enforcement actions and new reforms; 29 percent of respondents feel the same way about FINRA/FSA.
Chris Keller, partner and head of case development at Labaton Sucharow commented: "It is shocking that four years after the global economic crisis began there continues to be a fundamental lack of integrity in the financial services industry. For more than 50 years, Labaton Sucharow has been on the forefront of corporate governance reform. Given the results of this survey, our work is more important than ever."
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