The financial services industry needs to answer this critical question if we are ever to do a better job of living up to the role that society expects of us and the responsibilities we have in financial capitalism.
In the there-is-no-way-to-teach-ethics camp are skeptics like Richard Posner, appellate court judge, legal theorist and economist, who writes, “I can think of few things more futile than teaching people to be good.”
More hopeful is Neil Hamilton, founding director of the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions. Hamilton believes people can be taught to think, to perform, to conduct themselves (that is to act morally and ethically) like professionals.
Despite these differences of opinion, experts generally agree that when it comes to an individual’s capacity for behaving ethically, the most critical factors include how long that person has lived and the breadth and the variety of their life experiences.