Business integrity promoted

The Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment brought its Integrity at Work workshop to the University College of the Cayman Islands last week. The interactive seminar invited members of the financial services community and students to tackle real life dilemmas that could be faced by many businesses today. 

The scenarios ranged from the question of whether members of staff should be allowed to accept customer invitations to sports and other events to how to deal with a competitor’s proprietary information that was “found” by an employee, who is preparing the company’s pitch for a contract. 

The workshop, which has been presented to more than 5,000 professionals worldwide, made use of electronic voting machines that registered how the participants would respond to each scenario.  

“With real-time voting devices we can involve participants in decision-making options while at the same time learning about the core values of honesty, openness and fairness in an effort to address the loss of trust in the present global financial market,” said the Chartered Institute’s CEO Simon Culhane. 

Grey vs black and white  

The workshop is an extension of a section in the organisation’s member magazine, which presents real-life scenarios under the heading “grey matters”, because rules may be black and white, but reality often is not, Mr. Culhane explained. As a result, integrity is not always easy. 

“Dilemmas and case studies are a terrific way of learning, especially when you interact,” he said.  

Talking in public about the moral implications makes a big difference, according to Mr. Culhane, who showed that the responses to a dilemma can differ significantly depending on whether the individual response is public or anonymous. 

The “press test”, to think about what the reaction would be if a specific action or inaction would be reported in the newspaper, is often a good way to determine what should or should not be done, he said.  

Workshop objective 

The objective of the workshop is to promote integrity, irrespective of what the legal situation may be. “This is about behaviour,” Mr. Culhane said.  

CISI is a professional body that aims to raise the standards of people working predominantly in wealth management, stock brokerage and corporate finance. The organisation is also the examining body for certain financial qualifications offered at the University College of the Cayman Islands. 

The event was endorsed by David Foster, managing director of RBS Coutts (Cayman) Ltd and fellow of the CISI.  

“The world market turmoil over the last three years has emphasised the importance of trust and integrity in financial services,” Mr. Foster said. “The financial services industry is based on trust and integrity starting with basic things such as the issuing of bank notes and delivery of securities against payment.  

“Ultimately, the financial services industry is dealing with other people’s money and those other people are customers, clients and investors who need to know that the hierarchy of their bank, broker or investment house has the interest of the customer, client or investor in mind and not just its own interests,” he said. 

This is of particular relevance in Cayman.  

“Integrity in the offshore world is as important, if not more important, than in other business communities as we, together with other international financial centres, seem to be held to even higher standards than any of our onshore counterparts. It is important that every stakeholder operates to the highest integrity and is beyond reproach,” Mr. Foster said. 

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