What do ethics and ethical behavior have to do with finance?

Would you entrust your money to someone you thought was unethical? Would you risk heavy fines and possible jail time for skimming funds from a client? People who work in finance are placed in a fiduciary position of trust; first, by their employers, if they're not self-employed, but more importantly, by members of the general public, over whose assets they are given control. Their daily business is directly working with other people's money, or doing other things that affect the public's investment decisions, and if they are unethical people, their clients, and the public, are at high risk for being cheated. Finance workers are entitled to reasonable fees for their services, but they are not entitled to engage in investment activity solely to generate more commissions for themselves, or engage in any other self-dealing while they are doing their jobs on behalf of their clients. And they have to exercise reasonable care when doing their jobs. Given the many scandals of recent years, many companies have done their best to publicize their codes of ethics, and to acknowledge their responsibility to the public. These firms know that public confidence in their finance people matters a great deal, and unethical behavior (or even the perception of such behavior)on the part of a firm means that people will stay away from that firm, and they may stay away from all the others as well. Here is an example of a firm's publication of its code of ethics: http://www.altruistfa.com/codeofethics.htm If your work in finance requires a license, such as a Series 7 or CPA license, you will find that you will be tested on professional ethics. Once you're licensed, you will be expected to abide by those rules. And God help you if, once you get your license, you are caught violating the rules (people get caught because smart customers complain). You could lose your license. Ethical lapses took down a major public accounting firm (Arthur Andersen). If those lapses are even perceived as widespread, that perception can potentially destroy an entire industry. That is why ethics are not merely relevant. On the contrary, they're vital to the existence of the industry. They're not optional.