According to a new study, Wall Street firms have not shied away from bad behavior. In fact, big banks and Wall Street firms are as bad as they’ve ever been, reported The New York Times.
The study, published by The University of Notre Dame, finds that financial reform laws like Dodd-Frank and multi-billion dollar lawsuits have not deterred Wall Street firms from behaving badly. One-third of people who make more than $500,000 a year say that they “have witnessed or have firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace.”
Nearly half of the study’s 1,200 respondents believe that their competitors engaged in some sort of unethical or illegal behaviors to win an edge in the financial industry. Twenty-five percent of those surveyed said they’d commit insider trading to make $10 million with the assurance of not getting caught.
The study also reported that “nearly one in five respondents feel financial service professionals must sometimes engage in unethical or illegal activity to be successful in the current financial environment.”
What’s worse, the problem seems to be perpetuating itself as young professionals with less than 10 years experience in the industry tend to more easily assimilate to unethical and illegal behaviors, said Jordan Thoman, an attorney with the law firm, that helped fund the study.
Several different groups have conducted similar surveys in order to measure patterns of bad behavior in the financial industry over the last several years. The study’s authors noted little change as time goes on.
“Most disappointing is the lack of change in many of the results when compared to surveys from previous years,” said study co-author Ann Tenbrunsel. “Despite significant energy and efforts, it appears we need to continue to think about how to improve the culture of ethics in the financial services industry and most likely, in other sectors as well.”
However, Wall Street firms like to give the impression that everything is on the up-and-up. When people call for more Wall Street regulation, top execs always complain that the government is trying to topple the banks. That’s not entirely true, but banks need to stop destroying the economy.