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Integrity in finance - test yours at FINSIA workshops with UK Government Adviser Simon Culhane

by Lewis Panther | 28 Mar 2018
FINSIA members will get the chance to test their own integrity at a series of workshops held next month. Simon Culhane

A team from the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment is returning to hold another of these interactive seminars in April.

Real life scenarios illustrating the impact of poor ethical decisions from the world of sport and politics, as well as the financial services industry, will be used to demonstrate why ethics is essential to sound decision making.

The workshops — coming while the Financial Services Royal Commission hearing serves up a daily diet of mistakes and misdemeamours that have left the likes of NAB's Andrew Thorburn saying he is “dismayed” and “ashamed” — could not be more apt.

They could also see CISI and FINSIA strengthen their ties with a joint venture to run professional courses.

Former UK government adviser and CEO of CISI, Simon Culhane is returning after similar successful talks in Australia last August.

He said: “One of the areas of focus of the royal commission inquiry is into major lenders, who have been accused of putting profits ahead of customers.

“It is for this reason that the adage ‘client first, firm second, self third’ still has relevance today.

“There are steps we can take to improve this situation.

“Qualified professionals have a duty, set out in a professional body’s Codes of Conduct, to put their client’s interests first.

“Increasingly, professional bodies are also expecting their members to have a knowledge and understanding about new technology being used in their industry.

“Therefore, by focusing on professionalising financial services, the CISI and FINSIA are working to ensure that those working in the industry not only have the knowledge and skills to make competent decisions, but that they also behave in a way which is in line with high standards of ethics and integrity.”

The seminars are very likely to be a forerunner to CISI qualifications being rolled out in Australia, according to Mr Culhane whose not-for-profit organisation is in discussions about the prospect.

He added: “We are discussing partnering to provide certification pathways across the capital markets sector.

“The pathways we are working to support are: wealth management and retail; compliance and risk in financial services, including combatting financial crime.

“The exams will continue to be awarded by the CISI and will be the same exams that are taken globally, but we will work with FINSIA to ensure that they are relevant to their market.”

But it's not just in Australia where the CISI/FINSIA qualifications could be used.

With 46 regulatory authorities around the world recognising the CISI awards, the opportunity to use them as a career path progression is a great prospect.

“That is our vision — that for the technical subjects there is a globally-recognised benchmark standard for all practitioners.

“The goal being that when practitioners move between jurisdictions they will have the relevant technical certification and will only need to take the appropriate regulatory paper. We are on target to achieve our goal of 60 by 2020.

“Currently we are experiencing growth both Africa and Asia where within these regions passporting of recognised qualifications is high on the agenda.

“We are already the certification provider for the capital markets in East Africa, and are working closely with both neighbouring countries and also West Africa.

“Closer to home, with the new obligations under Articles 24 and 25 of MiFID II, European regulators are for the first time opening up lists for qualifications that they accept for staff who are ‘giving information’ or ‘giving information advice’.

“The passporting model for qualifications is also attractive for the global firms as a method by which they can ensure that they staff globally are certified to the same level — this is true for the BPO sector and investment operations as well as wealth management.”

The workshops — what to expect

The first section of the two-part, interactive workshops is an introduction to the importance of ethics and integrity in financial services.

A facilitator will run through some recent, real-life examples which demonstrate the impact that poor ethical decisions can have in sport, politics, business and financial services. Statistics and research which illustrate how important trust is to business and to professionals will also be examined.

The second part involves the audience participation with two or three real-life ethical dilemmas. The audience has four realistic resolutions to choose from in small group discussions before voting for their preferred resolution using individual voting machines.

The facilitator then encourages debate and discussion about the pros and cons of each option, before giving some closing thoughts. Questions can be asked by the audience at any time during the presentation.

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