Swearing to be Virtuous: The Prospects of a Banker's Oath By John R. Boatright
In an effort to restore trust in the banking sector, the Advisory Committee on the Future of Banks in the Netherlands made a recommendation, which has since been adopted, that bank executives be required to swear an oath akin to the physician's Hippocratic Oath. This examination of the prospects of the Dutch banker's oath addresses two broad issues. One issue is the efficacy of oaths themselves as instruments for achieving the desired end. A second issue concerns the extent to which this particular oath is a useful guide to ethical banking practice.
One conclusion of this study is that it would be difficult for any oath in banking to serve a role that is analogous to the Hippocratic Oath in medicine because of the many dissimilarities involved, most notably the lack in banking of a singular focus on service. Second, the Dutch oath, while admirable in its lofty exhortations, fails to provide a reliable guide through the many difficult judgments that must be made in banking.