Ethics and economic growth: Preventing culture from going south as profits head north

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At the start of the 20th century, Max Weber famously linked the expansion of Western European capitalism to the Protestant work ethic, Calvinism and a belief in predestination.

Two of the UK's largest domestic firms, Lloyds and Barclays, were given to us by the Quaker movement. And this focus on ethics and integrity continued, largely untroubled, well into the 20th century. For a long time few questioned the social utility of finance.

Today of course, the world is very different. The string of post-crisis crises has fashioned a new, Wolf of Wall Street public narrative. LIBOR emails, angry traders ripping their own shirts off their backs, mis-selling, opacity, casino-banking and so on and so forth. So, we're now, essentially, in a position where the financial sector is confronting a world with fewer advocates than it would like: but also perhaps fewer advocates than it deserves.

In this CII Thinkpiece, Martin Wheatley, Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, offers a salutary warning that progress towards a better culture and behaviour needs to be 'locked in' now while there is a strong public focus and attention on this.