Banking leaders are not known for their goodness. In the public imagination, Ken Costa, the ex-UBS and Lazard M&A banker and Christian philanthropist, tends to be eclipsed by the likes of a grinning Fred Goodwin and a sneering Dick Fuld. Contrary to public perception, however, bankers aren’t that bad. On average, finance professionals are actually more moral than staff in other industries.
“The narrative that bankers are bad people is peddled by politicians and the media,” says Roger Steare, a ‘corporate ethicist’ who’s spent years working with banks and other organizations. “The reality is that the percentage of sociopaths in banks is actually lower than in society at large.”
Steare has spent years gathering information on ‘moral DNA’ and has put 130,000 people through a detailed psychometric test examining their decision making process. The average outcomes for banking leaders are shown below, with the 50th centile representing the average score. So, financial services leaders are more honest, more courageous, fairer, more trustworthy, wiser, more self-controlled, and more interested in excellence than the rest. On the other hand, they’re not especially hopeful. And they’re a lot less humble and loving…
On the whole, Steare’s results show that finance professionals are more moral than people who work in government, the print media and politics. They are less moral than healthcare professionals – and less moral than the most moral people of the lot – ‘homemakers’ who don’t work at all.