I joined the City way back when and am now trying to come to terms with what we have today. Like most people the current malaise in financial markets is hard to take and sadly the stories seem to get worse and worse and the solutions becoming much harder
to see. For this reason I believe that we can all look to history as a guide of what worked before and what might work again.
The history of the City is full of good and bad times. Good and bad times all have their own lessons to be learned and the City has always been able to adapt. The South Sea Island bubble was a financial disaster but the City learned and adapted. There have
been numerous banking collapses and various financial institutions failing and like all industries there are reactions and new regulations or laws introduced to prevent reoccurrences. However, adapting to society’s needs and taking into account innovations
in business and technology has always been a hallmark of City business.
Big Bang was a huge success in 1986 and spawned the current market, which has been copied all over the world, however now it has to be questioned if the market structure created in 1986 best serves society today and in the future. It’s not wrong to question
and to learn and adapt.
With all the changes that have impacted financial markets it’s the decline in ethical and moral performance that is most worrying and a cause for financial services to fight for.
When I joined the City in 1969 but there was a strict fundamental that was drummed into me and that I have never lost. Protect your client’s interest and protect your reputation and that of your firm. It’s more about the individual buying into an ethical
and moral position that is handed down by industry leaders and old heads, rather than what you will find in any rulebook or law. For this reason it’s actually more powerful. The Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment has championed an ethical and
moral stance for some years now and it’s a laudable attempt to get everyone on the same ethical page. However it requires far more buy in from a broader finance industry perspective.
For me my industry training was all about doing the right thing for the client, the industry, your family and yourself. Having a conscience helps enormously and I don’t know how people can sleep a night knowing they are doing incalculable damage to their
neighbours and colleagues. If demonstrating ethical behaviour is a prerequisite in finance and is lauded by industry leaders and shown to be the prime requirement for success, we might finally be able to tackle the reputational problems the finance industry