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Will Goodhart, CFA UK

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Investment profession making progress on ethical matters, says CFA survey

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The number of investment professionals who find it challenging to adhere to the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct (Code and Standards) continues to fall, according to a new Ethics Survey by the CFA UK.

The survey – the only tracker of these views across the UK’s investment profession and now in its seventh year – reveals the sector is making steady progress in recognising and responding to the importance of ethics.
 
Drilling down into the numbers, respondents feel that meeting duties to clients is less challenging for the sector as a whole than in previous years. However, while that number is down to 43 per cent this year from 51 per cent in 2017 and 52 per cent in 2015, it remains stubbornly high. The number of individuals who have found it personally challenging to meet that duty increased slightly this year to 28 per cent – from 27 per cent in 2017 and 24 per cent last year.
 
It is also notable that 54 per cent of respondents say that they think about the Code and Standards often. This is a notable jump from four years ago when only 40 per cent said that they did so.
 
In another indication of the growing importance of ethics and professionalism to individuals, the survey reports that an increasing number of investment professionals want to advance their career with a company whose values align with their own. 53 per cent of respondents regard this as very important compared to 46 per cent two years ago.  
 
There has also been a substantial increase in awareness of CFA UK’s online ethics resources, such as guidance notes and the whistleblowing helpline. Some 29 per cent of those polled visited those resources in the past year, versus 19 per cent two years ago. 
 
Will Goodhart, chief executive of CFA UK, says: “It is great to see that our members are continuing to become more conscious and responsive to their ethical and professional responsibilities. As a profession, we have a duty to serve clients ethically and the public need to be confident that we can do so.
 
“The investment sector is characterised by information asymmetries and conflicts of interest. Poor ethical decision-making can have significantly adverse outcomes for clients and for firms. We must continue to ensure that ethical and professional awareness are embedded into firms’ cultures, and that those working in the profession have this front of mind every day.”
 
CFA UK currently runs an Ethical Leadership Programme in partnership with Duke Corporate Education. Now in its fifth year, the programme provides current and future leaders with the skills, techniques and experience needed to deal with ethical issues, and the expertise to help guide others in their own organisations.

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