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BAI Research Finds a Significant Disconnect Between Leadership and General Staff on Ethics, Culture and Conduct Risk

CHICAGO – July 16, 2019 – BAI, a nonprofit independent organization that delivers the financial services industry’s most actionable insights, recently uncovered a considerable disconnect between financial services organizations’ ethics and conduct policies and general employee awareness and engagement. BAI presented the findings of the survey in a recent webinar, BAI Banking Outlook: The State of Culture and Conduct in Financial Services.

BAI surveyed more than 450 HR, risk and compliance leaders and general employees at financial services organizations ranging from community to large organizations for the study. The research identifies the positive impact of Ethics or Conduct officers on an organization and the importance of built-in safeguards around incentive-based pay.

“Financial services leaders from community to large organizations should have a clear understanding of who or what drives the organization’s ethical and cultural backbone. Our research found that having a Conduct or Ethics officer is an essential component of this process,” said Karl Dahlgren, managing director of BAI. “Even in the absence of this role, financial services leaders need to ensure guardrails and ethics policies are clearly conveyed, followed and understood amongst all employees, protecting both customers or members in addition to the organization.”

Highlights from the BAI Banking Outlook, The State of Culture and Conduct in Financial Services webinar include:

  • 91% of HR, risk and compliance leaders indicated that their organization has an Ethics Officer, but less than half (42%) of general employees said their organization had someone in this position.
  • 85% of financial services leaders surveyed feel as though their organization is doing enough to prevent unethical behavior, and 90% of respondents felt that ethical expectations are made clear within their organization.
  • HR, risk and compliance leaders at regional institutions (47%) were less likely to rate the organization as highly ethical compared to large (79%), super-regional (71%) and community institutions (83%).
  • Organizations that monitor engagement, such as reviewing employee feedback or engagement surveys, are more likely to have practices in place to ward off unethical behavior.

For more information about the BAI Banking Outlook, or to watch the free webinar, visit

About BAI

As a nonprofit, independent organization, BAI has delivered the financial services industry’s most actionable insights for 95 years, enabling leaders to make smart business decisions every day. We’re passionate about the trusted information and powerful tools that provide leaders with the clarity and confidence needed to drive positive change and move the financial services industry forward. That’s why we provide in-depth, proprietary research to 30 of the top 50 banks and numerous others ranging in size, support more than 1,800 financial services organizations for compliance and professional development training, and recognize industry trailblazers from our Emerging Leaders Network to the Global Innovation Awards. For more information, visit