Financial workers feel under pressure to compromise ethical standards

Emma Haslett
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Workers still feel under pressure from their employers, the study found (Source: Getty)

A third of those in the finance sector feel under pressure from their employers to compromise their ethics, a report by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (Cima) has suggested. That's quite a rise on last year's 18 per cent.

Of those who felt under pressure to compromise, 20 per cent said the most pressure came from colleagues in other parts of the business, while 14 per cent said it came from international partners. Meanwhile, 18 per cent said the pressure came from of reporting deadlines.

And it looks like the many attempts by those in charge to persuade the finance sector to embrace whistleblowing aren't working: just over a fifth said they felt those who report worries about unethical behaviour are seen as "troublemakers".

What is encouraging is that the UK and US reported the lowest levels of pressure, although it has increased 12 per cent and seven per cent respectively since 2012. Meanwhile, India was the only country where the trend has reversed, falling from 51 per cent in 2012 to 45 per cent now.

The bad news is in the UK at least, the situation is unlikely to improve. Last month a study by London Business School and PwC found tough new rules introduced by the Bank of England which makes senior managers legally accountable could make finance sector workers behave more unethically.

Managers were 15 per cent more anxious than excited when presented with situations where the negative consequences for poor performance were highlighted, the study found, which made them twice as likely to behave unethically.

"A lost reputation can destroy a business overnight. To guard against this, organisations need to collect and interpret information about ethical performance, so the company can tell when it’s on the right track and when it’s about to walk off a cliff-edge," said Cima's head of ethics, Tanya Barman.

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