A brief history

a brief history of the banking and finance oath

The Banking and Finance Oath (The BFO) was founded on a shared belief in the inherent ‘good’ of the financial services industry. In response to the Global Financial Crisis and concerns about the impact of misconduct and other scandals on the reputation of banks globally, a number of leaders of the financial services industry in Australia came together to discuss the moral and ethical focus of the industry and had a range of ideas on how trust and confidence in the industry could be enhanced, and in some sectors restored.

Under the auspices of The Ethics Centre, a report was produced and those industry leaders voted on the initiatives they wished to see established.  As a consequence, the Banking and Finance Ethics Panel was formed in 2010 with representatives from Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Commonwealth Bank, Rothschild, Morgan Stanley, AMP Capital, MLC and Westpac.

The BFO is the founding initiative of that Panel. The Oath was aimed at building trust and confidence in the financial services industry by re-asserting the moral and ethical foundation of the industry, in a way that transcended regulation, compliance and any professional standards, and by broadening expectations and discussion to include ethics, integrity, honesty and trust.

The BFO was launched in 2013 as an industry-led initiative. The Ethics Centre facilitated the project and, through Dr Longstaff, was a major catalyst in the drafting of the Oath itself.

On 1 March 2021 The BFO merged with The Ethics Centre so as to expand and enrich conversations within the banking and finance industry on ethical issues.

Ethics in Banking and Finance Report, 2009


The Banking and Finance Ethics Panel

The Banking and Finance Ethics Panel was established in 2010 by leaders from the banking and finance industry.

The Banking and Finance Ethics Panel comprised:

  • Stephen Fitzgerald, formerly Chief Executive Officer, Goldman Sachs
  • Steven Harker, Chief Executive & Managing Director, Morgan Stanley
  • Stephen Dunne, Managing Director, AMP Capital
  • David Cohen, Group General Counsel, Commonwealth Bank of Australia
  • Trevor Rowe AO, Executive Chairman, Rothschild Australia
  • Steve Tucker, Chief Executive Officer, MLC
  • David Bell, formerly Group General Counsel, Westpac Banking Corporation
  • Dr Simon Longstaff, Executive Director, The Ethics Centre
  • Clare Payne, Consulting Fellow, The Ethics Centre and former Director of the Integrity Office of Macquarie Bank
  • Amanda McCluskey, Senior Investment Manager and Co-Head of Sustainable Funds, First State Stewart Asia Pacific , Singapore

The Banking and Finance Oath is the first initiative of the Banking and Finance Ethics Panel.

Dr Simon Longstaff, Executive Director, The Ethics Centre, drafted The BFO after discussions with the members of the panel. The views of each panel member were sought with the final wording agreed upon in February 2011.

The Oath

  • Trust is the foundation of my profession.
  • I will serve all interests in good faith.
  • I will compete with honour.
  • I will pursue my ends with ethical restraint.
  • I will help create a sustainable future.
  • I will help create a more just society.
  • I will speak out against wrongdoing and support others who do the same.
  • I will accept responsibility for my actions.

In these and all other matters;
My word is my bond.

The Vision

A banking and finance industry that meets the community’s needs and has its full confidence thereby fulfilling its integral role in society.