Moral principles are more than just a guide to avoiding misconduct but also a set of principles by which to elevate the integrity and professionalism of a sector. This session considers the challenges and opportunities as financial advice codifies ethics as a core tenet of the service.
Tracy Wilcox, Associate Professor, UNSW
Moderator: Jeffrey Scott, head of advice strategy, Metlife
- Advisers can help themselves adapt to the new Code of Ethics by tapping into the creative side of their thinking when it comes to ethical dilemmas according to Tracy Wilcox, the UNSW Business School’s academic director of postgraduate programs.
- A key part of the ethical decision-making process, she believes, is having the capacity to see a bigger question in a small issue. For example, she says, one might ask themselves what would happen if everyone took a particular course of action that an adviser was considering.
- The challenge of acting ethically in an unethical world is one that most people struggle with, Wilcox says, but even more so for advisers who now have a professional code on top of the responsibility for their clients’ financial prosperity.
- While the Code of Ethics was criticised when it was released for not having enough prescriptive guidance, Wilcox says FASEA is trying to get advisers to think of who they are and how they operate as professionals. Open-ended edicts like standard three, which tells advisers not to “advise, refer or act” if a conflict exists are meant to be actively interpreted, she says.
- The professor acknowledges that getting comfortable with a Code of Ethics that requires active interpretation may take time. She understands, also, just how high the stakes are for advisers.