Ethics as the lingua franca 

For the benefit of our own Members, we've written extensively over the years about the value and context for professional ethics.  It is, in some respects, a topic with unfortunate connotations.

Firstly, ethics has, to a certain extent, been overshadowed by the rather denatured, flaccid alternative enshrined within the FCA's TCF regulations.  Practitioners seek to 'comply' with TCF because it is a regulatory requirement, without adequately exploring the real, liberating strengths that are realised through the singleminded commitment to a clearly understood and implemented framework to ethics.  Ticking those boxes does not result in a change of heart and mind in relation to such matters.

Secondly, it feels sometimes as if the mere mention of 'ethics' serves either to brand one as someone who is impossibly self-righteous, or rather to pigeon-hole one into some category of SEI product-purveying.  Clearly, ethics is way wider either than product-preference, or even SEI itself which is often driven by ideology rather than morality.

And, thirdly, we all know that 'professional ethics' is the kind of subject where people briefly put themselves through a bit of CPD in order to get the requisite number of points during the year, thus supporting the renewal of the SPS.  Another course-book is added to the composting pile on the shelf, and that's about it.

But there is so much more value for the professional adviser here.  This is why ValidPath have been writing extensively about the subject now for many years.  A shared ethical framework has the effect of binding people together who are likeminded about the matter.  For a Network like ValidPath, that has the happy effect of building a genuine community for practitioners whose values are closely aligned, and it acts as a deterrent to potential Member Firms who see those values as irrelevant to their objectives.  For Advisers, a very clear ethical stance helps both as a reassurance to those clients who value such matters, and may assist in encouraging shabbier individuals in transferring their business to someone with lower standards.  And, if you are working with introducers, the likelihood is that that ethical rigour will prove suffocating for those whose primary focus is on a quick buck.

Being clear about your ethical stance isn't just something that happens inside your own head - it effects your entire network of professional relationships.  And in a good way.

Further reading for ValidPathers...
We've beefed up our guidance on Working with Introducers
We've also updated our Pragmatic Client Categorisation material


Kevin Moss, 25/07/2019