Originally posted by Bram Weerts from KEA on BramWeerts.com: Non-Academic Views.
On the 5th of March, the IIAR (The Institute of Industry Analyst Relations) will hold a panel that will discuss what the ethical standards should be across the analyst industry. Kind as they are at the IIAR, they have invited me to take place at the table in London. I would like to take the opportunity to give a bit of my vision before the 5th. Since nobody reads my words, it will not hurt the discussion.
My point of view: In general, ethics are part of your upbringing. Later in life you can decide to go and work for an outfit that chooses to disregards ethics, but if you have some moral, you probably won’t. I’ve always liked the financial sector. Problem is you are scamming people over when you really are there just to make money. I met people in life who sold stock to old folks who worked in the mines and saved up to get their grandchildren through school. They choose to do it, knowing what would happen. Although the corporate ethics paper stated different information, they all knew they were only busy enriching themselves with profits knowing very well where those profits came from. The financial sector we blame for a lot, but it is not so different in the tobacco industry or in the oil sector. So if they tell you at home that it is ok to treat people differently than you would like to be treated yourself, it will bring you very fast to the land of no ethics. I reckon that everybody has a soul, and it will catch up with you sooner or later.
Having said this, let us focus on a different sector, the one the IIAR takes care of. The industry analysts are human beings. They will operate as their employer asked them to do. Nothing is more human, than to work in that grey area. You really want to help clients, and you really want to keep the job. I think the young generation will start with the best intentions, but I know for a fact that just not everybody is cut out for this role. Do we need to address this without having to worry about being shut out by the analyst community? I think so. I wouldn’t treat this in any way different from doing business in general. I ran multiple businesses, but one thing will never change when doing business. You undertake it only in a way which you know certain will bring no harm to others around you or the name of the industry you work in.
Independence does not exist. It is not possible if you work for a corporate firm or just for yourself. You can be funny on the phone or face to face with a client telling them all kinds of things, but in the end, you need to put your name and that of your firm under the work often called research. I have seen many things go wrong, but even more go right. We deal with a very small amount of firms that take a piss at the ethics in this industry. The analysts and the corporates that like to wheel and deal as such are known. We advise our clients not to talk to you because your words don’t mean anything to us. The general public would maybe feel different, but we decide our own route and work with an ethical standard we feel comfortable with.