Swearing to be Virtuous: The Prospects of a Banker's Oath By John R. Boatright

Tuesday 6 November, 2018
by John R. Boatright, Loyola University Chicago , Chicago , IL , USA
Abstract
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.

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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.