Media Release - Financial Planners
BFO board says behaviour of financial planners comes down to ethics
The board of the Banking and Finance Oath (BFO), an initiative formed to encourage and support strong ethics in the banking and finance industry, today called for the adoption of a common ethical framework to inform the conduct of financial planners.
The BFO strongly encourages the open discussion of ethics as an important way to draw early attention to unethical behavior within the banking and finance industry. One of the core tenets adopted by signatories of the oath is that they ‘speak out against wrongdoing and support others who do the same’.
The BFO wishes to emphasise that the quality of Australian financial advice is assured by a complementary blend of ethics and regulation. BFO Director and CEO of ANZ Australia, Phil Chronican said, “While many people focus on the legislative and regulatory regime as the principal means to ensure the quality and character of financial advice, we believe something more needs to be done, which is why we support the need for a voluntary ethical framework to ensure the industry’s long-term viability.
“Beyond compliance, the BFO’s mission is to develop a strong ethical foundation – a support network that exists to encourage ethical accountability of the highest quality, and thus give the community good reason to look beyond the tainted image that tends to define the banking and finance industry as a result of poor behaviour by relatively few,” he said.
Recent events highlighting poor financial advice have prompted a call from Nationals’ Senator John Williams for a Royal Commission into ‘white collar’ crime. The Board is yet to form a view about the benefits of holding such an enquiry. However, should it proceed, then the BFO would urge the Commission to support its distinctive approach.
In relation to financial planners, the BFO strongly recommends that the industry (and the various professional bodies that represent advisers) supports one, common ethical foundation for financial advisers across Australia.
BFO Director and Executive Director of the St James Ethics Centre, Dr Simon Longstaff said, “While there may be, and perhaps should be, competition around questions of core competency, accreditation systems, formal qualifications and the like, this should not apply at the level of ethics as the broader society has a reasonable right to expect one ethical standard that is common to all.”
Australia is not alone in its development of an instrument like the Banking and Finance Oath. Since 1 January this year, the Netherlands has required all 90,000 members of its banking and finance community to swear to a mandatory oath of good conduct. Australia’s BFO differs in that it is based on an individual, voluntary act of commitment.