Listen to Rebecca Aston, CISI manager, ethics and integrity talking on the BBC World Service about whistleblowingMembers and regular readers will need no reminding of the genesis of the Institute’s motto of ‘My word is my bond’, and many will look back to the apparently halcyon days when that was assumed to be the motto of the City as a whole, not just the London Stock Exchange. Regrettably, the business activities undertaken by or within the City during many of those 25 years, at both a corporate and individual level, show the sentiment more often ignored than honoured.
So, how has your Institute measured up to the challenge of implementing the relevant objects of our Royal Charter, namely “to promote for the public benefit … to develop high professional, educational and ethical standards for practitioners in securities and investments and to promote such standards in the United Kingdom and overseas”?
It is worth focusing on the words “for the public benefit” because they are a key component of the work of professional bodies. We are granted charitable status because we exist to serve the wider public, not just the membership. Achieving that aim involves all of us in committing to uphold the principles contained in our Code of Conduct and working towards ensuring that they become the standards of the wider industry.
In seeking to meet this objective, overseen by the board-level Integrity & Ethics committee, your Institute has undertaken initiatives in a variety of areas, the most central product of which, the Code of Conduct, has recently been modified to reflect the responsibilities of our widened membership.
The Institute’s long-running series of ‘Grey matters’ ethical dilemmas has now offered members 90 individual stories, which have been combined into a series of five Integrity at work in financial services books – 150,000 copies of which have been printed for distribution to members. These dilemmas have provided the seed corn for all our related material, whether it is the IntegrityMatters test or the ‘Integrity at work’ presentations for delivery and discussion in groups. This latter product has proved universally popular with participants around the world. It has been delivered to audiences in over 30 countries in English, French and Spanish. In addition, the presentation is offered to all our members through regular presentations to regional groups.
We are granted charitable status because we exist to serve the wider publicIn 2008, we introduced the online IntegrityMatters test as an elective topic for all, apart from Chartered members for whom it was mandatory. Additionally, the test was taken by large numbers of people, both members and non-members, and in 2014 passing the test became a mandatory requirement of membership of the Institute.
In 2013, in response to the absence of any sort of ethics training requirement within the wholesale area of the financial services industry, which was where most of the serious individual transgressions arose, we made successful completion of IntegrityMatters a prerequisite for all candidates for our Certificate in Capital Markets qualification. Because of this we have seen some 6,000 tests taken by these candidates and, to date, over 42,000 IntegrityMatters tests have been taken. In addition, through our partnership with Caixa Bank in Spain and the translation of IntegrityMatters into Spanish, a further 6,000 tests have been taken by Caixa Bank staff.
More recently, with the increased regulatory focus on speaking up and whistleblowing, a ‘Speak up’ presentation has been produced, with a similar format to Integrity at work, and this has proved popular with both members and corporate supporter firms.
Finally, in our 25th year we have taken the important step of introducing a mandatory 10% integrity content into members’ new annual CPD requirement, to stress the importance that we place on the topic. To support our members to achieve this target, in addition to the products that we already provide, our new and improved Professional Refresher series contains an increasing number of modules that are acceptable in meeting the integrity CPD requirement.
We look forward to the next 25 years of providing innovative and instructive products to uphold the standards and values of the Institute, to enable members to say with pride and confidence: “My word is my bond.”
This article was originally published in the Q2 2017 print edition of The Review. The print edition is available to all members who opt in to receive it, except student members. All eligible members who would like to receive future editions in the post should log in to MyCISI, click on My Account/Communications and set their preference to 'Yes'.