Wall Street has changed. But perhaps not as much as you would think.
The past several years have been filled with headline-grabbing legal settlements by financial services firms — $11 billion here, $5 billion there. Most of them involved conduct that took place before the 2008 crisis. Virtually every major Wall Street firm has pledged to redouble its efforts to instill an ethical culture. And virtually all the large firms said that if there was bad behavior, it is behind them.
Well, it isn't.
A new report on financial professionals' views of their industry paints a troubling picture. Rather than indicating that Wall Street has cleaned itself up, it suggests that many of the lessons of the crisis still haven't been learned. And the mind-boggling settlement numbers, as well as stringent new rules, like the of Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul in 2010, appear to have had little deterrent effect.
In the study, to be released Tuesday, about a third of the people who said they made more than $500,000 annually contend that they "have witnessed or have firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace."
Just as bad: "Nearly one in five respondents feel financial service professionals must sometimes engage in unethical or illegal activity to be successful in the current financial environment."
One in 10 said they had directly felt pressure "to compromise ethical standards or violate the law."