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Posted by:
Steve Harker

Joining the BFO

When I first joined the financial services industry 30 years ago, my very first boss gave me the advice, “You only have your integrity once.  Lose it and you lose it forever.” 
Those words have stayed with me throughout my career, manifesting in many ways, through phrases such as: “your word is your bond”; “never lie to a client”; “always escalate a problem”; “you will lose your job not because you may have made a mistake but because you covered it up”.
Our industry has many fine examples of people who uphold these traditions. Sadly it’s an industry that also has too many examples of people who do not. This discolours the finance sector in a disproportionate way, and is the reason I signed up to the BFO and support its expansion.  It is also the reason why I encourage as many people as possible to do the same. The more positive publicity we can give to the great things our sector does, the better.
Other developments in the investment and superannuation side of the finance industry relate to the continued refinement of conflict management and the development of Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) investment, as there is a direct relationship between these developments and a solid foundation in ethics.
The superannuation industry is at the forefront of developing these themes. It is also important to realise that adopting them does not necessarily mean taking up a particular ideological or political stance.  It more accurately means that the focus in question is aimed at the longer term, better risk mitigation, better social responsibility and a more sophisticated understanding of ‘conflict’.  In many cases, it is important to remember that perception of a conflict is often as dangerous as an actual conflict itself.
That is why the BFO Oath is so important - it requires one to think about every action undertaken in an ethical framework that continues to strengthen over time.
I hope you will join me in signing up to the BFO Oath.

Steve Harker
Managing Director and CEO for Morgan Stanley Australia

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