A quarter of Wall Street and British financial executives think unethical or illegal conduct is needed to succeed, according to a survey by law firm Labaton Sucharow released Tuesday.
A full 24 percent of senior managers polled by the New York-based firm said they “may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct in order to be successful.”
And 16 percent admitted they would commit a crime, like insider trading, if they could get away with it.
The survey comes after a string of controversies, legal investigations and denunciations of the financial profession, which is blamed for helping to run the global economy into the ground via the 2008 financial crisis.
“When misconduct is common and accepted by financial services professionals, the integrity of our entire financial system is at risk,” said Jordan Thomas, chair of Labaton Sucharow’s whistleblower representation practice.
The latest controversy to hit the industry has involved allegations that Barclays Bank traders manipulated key inter-bank lending rates that underpin the entire banking system.
The controversy forced Barclays’s chief executive Bob Diamond to step down.
The survey also showed 39 percent of respondents believe their competitors have engaged in illegal or unethical activity.
Thirty percent said their pay or bonuses put pressure on them to violate ethical standards.
One third said securities regulators on both side of the Atlantic are a deterrence.
The survey was conducted in June and included 500 respondents in the Britain and the United States.