British and U.S. authorities are both now investigating Barclays and other banks for manipulating the London InterBank Offered Rate, an interest rate that is a benchmark for a host of financial products around the world. Regulators charge that the banks rigged the interest rate’s movements in order to profit and to make themselves look healthier during the financial crisis of 2008 than they actually were.
This comes on the heels of JP Morgan losing billions of dollars chasing profits with trades that were meant to reduce risk, and, of course, is just a few years removed from a crisis caused in large part by Wall Street malfeasance. But according to a survey by the whistleblower law firm Labaton Sucharow, Wall Street executives believe this is just part of the financial business. In fact, nearly one quarter of survey respondents said that financial services employees need to be unethical or engage in illegal behavior in order to be successful:
In a survey of 500 senior executives in the United States and the UK, 26 percent of respondents said they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace, while 24 percent said they believed financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct to be successful.
Sixteen percent of respondents said they would commit insider trading if they could get away with it, according to Labaton Sucharow. And 30 percent said their compensation plans created pressure to compromise ethical standards or violate the law.
Big banks, of course, have continued to fight reforms to the financial regulatory framework, even in the wake of the crash of 2008. But if this survey is any indication, Wall Street needs a mentality change, along with stricter supervision.