Do Ethics Exist in Financial Services?
An Investigation into the Effect Regulation Has on Ethical Decision-making of Staff in the U.K.

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


A brief look into the history of the financial services will highlight a deep routed and inherent mistrust of the industry and the notion that any sort of ethics within this industry is oxymoronic. It is apparent from the prior literature that when financial services are left to self-regulate the priority is placed on profit maximisation and not on ethical conduct. Whilst in the UK the industry is has been governed since 1984, the regulatory landscape is constantly changing and increasing. However, ever-increasing regulations does not appear to be fundamentally changing behaviour within the industry. A lack of ethical decision-making was a direct contributor to the 2008 global financial crisis. With a reliance on compliance and legal departments to govern decisions there is a common mis conception that if a decision or product complies with regulation it is ethically sound.
It is the purpose of this research to add to the existing literature, particularly in relation to the symbiotic relationship between ethics and regulation. Furthermore, to conclude whether or not increased regulation in the UK is leading to a disassociation in staff from ethical decisions, as well as the impact of continued regulatory and ethical failure. A particular emphasis is given to the extent that regulation might have a negative impact on ethical behaviour of staff and that regulation might require greater ethical insight to enhance a sufficient standard of behaviour in financial services.
This research seeks to answer this main topic using five further research objectives. Utilising a mixed methodology, the primary research was carried out using 134 surveys and 11 in-depth semi structured interviews. Fundamentally, based on evidence presented in the thesis, where profit and money operate under regulatory conditions malfeasance is not consistently eradicated. Ethics and morality therefore ought not to be ignored in addressing problems of probity in financial services.
Date of Award29 Mar 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorAlan Murray (Supervisor), Plamen Ivanov (Supervisor) & Paul Sheeran (Supervisor)


  • Ethics
  • Regulation
  • Financial services
  • Banking
  • 2008 global financial crisis
  • Ethical decision-making
  • Ethical banking
  • Sustainable banking

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