A matter of trust
Ethical lapses in the banking and finance sector that have been blamed for triggering the global financial crisis have highlighted issues such as trust, integrity and social responsibility.
Without ethics, there can be no integrity in the financial markets, says Ashvin Vibhakar, managing director of Asia-Pacific operations at the CFA Institute.
'It is critical for the economies of the world that not only our members but also everyone within the industry behaves in an ethical way,' he says.
Renowned for its rigorous six-hour examinations, the Certified Financial Analyst designation encourages charterholders to uphold the highest standards of ethical behaviour, Vibhakar adds.
'Through our Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct - the ethical cornerstone of the CFA Institute - our aim is to be the leader in setting ethical standards,' he says. Changes in the financial markets mean finance professionals have an even bigger responsibility to protect their clients. 'Long ago, investors were mainly institutional and they understood what they were doing, but these days, there are a large number of retail investors who have little knowledge about the things they are investing in. If responsible finance professionals don't protect small investors, who will?'
Professor Steven DeKrey, senior associate dean of the HKUST Business School and director of master programmes at the university, says ethics is a topic frequently discussed by students enrolled in the Kellogg-HKUST EMBA programme.
'Our students come from a diverse background of culture, industries and geographical areas,' he says. 'As senior managers and Asian leaders, Kellogg-HKUST EMBA students are acutely aware of the ethical challenges facing corporate leaders.' DeKrey says as part of the EMBA programme, students examine leadership in modern organisations with a focus on ethical challenges.
With the new 3-3-4 academic structure for Hong Kong's schools and universities in place, Leonard Cheng Kwok-hon, chair professor and dean at the HKUST School of Business and Management, says the university is planning to launch a new undergraduate course focusing on the understanding and promotion of ethics and social responsibility, largely in response to demand and support from business.