Many on Wall Street think cheating breeds success

Updated

Nearly one-fourth of financial services professionals feel it’s at least sometimes necessary to do illegal or unethical things to be successful, and many are motivated to do so by fat bonuses and other compensation.

That’s according to a new survey of 500 U.S. and British fund managers, bankers, asset managers and other financial services professionals. It was conducted in June on behalf of the law firm Labaton Sucharow, which specializes in whistleblower cases.

Twenty-four percent of respondents said if you work in financial services you must at times engage in unethical or illegal activity to be successful.

On the bright side, 76 percent said you never need to break the law or experience a lapse in ethics in order to get ahead.

The motivation to cheat: For many, it’s the money.  

The survey found that 30 percent of those in financial services feel pressure to do things that are unethical or illegal because of their compensation or bonus plans.

On Wall Street and Fleet Street, base salaries are often generous, but the real wealth can often come from massive, performance-based bonuses.

The survey comes as Barclays Bank is embroiled in a scandal amid charges that the company manipulated short-term interest rates that affect a host of debt, including mortgages and student loans.

Related: Are you making $30,000 per year or less? We want to hear from you.

It also comes just months after a Goldman Sachs employee named Greg Smith announced his departure from the firm via a New York Times op-ed in which he derided the company as toxic and destructive, motivated by profit over the client’s best wishes.

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Many on Wall Street think cheating breeds success

Updated