STOP THE PRESS: Lawyer gives ethical assistance to bankers

Saturday 6 December, 2014
by Nicolette Bearup
Barrister Nicolette Bearup writes of the need for the finance industry to rebuild trust particularly in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, through ethical leadership that brings about real cultural change. She explores the potential of the Banking and Finance Oath and considers whether anything might be learned from current practice in the legal profession.

The Banking and Finance Oath (BFO) is an initiative that aims to advance ethical conduct in the banking and finance industry. It is timely to reflect on it, given the call from the authors of the Financial System Inquiry Report for leaders of financial firms and their governing bodies to work harder to foster cultures that “support appropriate risk taking and the fair treatment of consumers” through their own conduct and design of appropriate “objectives, strategies and systems.” This has led me to explore the aims of the Banking and Finance Oath; whether such an oath has been embraced in any other countries; how it might be effective in promoting ethical conduct and whether anything might be learned from current practice in the legal profession.

My reflections

Nicolette Bearup is a barrister with a keen interest in public policy. She was a partner at law firm, DibbsBarker, before being called to the bar in 2005.


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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.