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Regulating ethics in financial services: Engaging industry to achieve regulatory objectives

  • Ireland
  • Financial services and markets regulation
  • Regulatory investigations and enforcement


Ciaran Walker, Consultant in Financial Service Regulation & Governance and Dr Joe McGrath, UCD Sutherland School of Law co-authored an article titled, 'Regulating ethics in financial services: Engaging industry to achieve regulatory objectives'. This has been published in the international journal Regulation & Governance.

This article addresses the issue of renewing a sense of vocation in finance. Drawing on experiences in the UK, Australia, and Ireland, three common law jurisdictions at various phases of developing “an ethical esprit de corps” to professionalize the banking industry, it argues that adopting some aspects of a profession, a “trajectory towards professionalization” of the banking industry, could serve, at least to some extent, to improve the industry-wide norms that influence firms' cultures and individual behaviors. It contends that professionalization could help to develop bankers with a professional, pro-social identity, in which there is a recognition of broader obligations to society, that exists independently of the profit-driven nature of banking and the hierarchy of their own firms. This analysis is informed by an integration of regulatory theory, which casts doubt on the utility of sanctions except as a last resort, behavioral science, which offers insights into how ethics and culture, not just law and markets, can constrain irresponsible behavior in the financial services sector, and criminological theory, which emphasizes that particular types of controls, including individual attachments to groups, build “stakes in conformity” which encourage law abiding and responsible behaviors.

To read the article, click here.

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