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Category: Compliance · 3 min read

Making the “Right” Decision With an Ethics Policy

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on March 19, 2019

author profile photo

on March 19, 2019

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How’s your company’s ethics policy? Do you have one? 

It could be argued that at the core of any great company is its ethics policy. It lays the foundation for employees to act with integrity and honesty in their everyday business activities. The policy also helps build and protect the reputation of the company by providing guidelines that help support each of its core values.   

To start thinking about your own ethics policy and how to do the ethical thing with your clients, consider these tips.  


Go in the “Right” Direction 

When it comes to compliance questions, we’re asked over and over: “Can I do this?”. Even though we answer these questions from a regulatory aspect, we often ask the question back: “Should you do that?” It’s interesting how often this question can make a financial professional reconsider their original plan. Having to contemplate whether the decision they’re making is fundamentally “right” can feel daunting. There’s no magic eight ball to tell you what to do, and the line between right and wrong can be blurry. Just because something is acceptable from a regulatory standpoint, doesn’t make it the ethical thing to do.  

And, while there are tools available that can help guide you to the right product recommendation for a client, there’s no tool to direct you to a decision that’s ethically right. Understanding your clients’ needs, building a relationship with them, and knowing what their situation is may be the most important parts of acting with integrity. The actions you take will help form the reputation you have in the industry. Acting ethically can help establish you as the credible financial professional that your clients refer their friends and family to, and help you retain them. 

Just as simply, a decision made without your moral compass set in the right direction can cost you. Regulatory fines can be devastating financially and in reputation, and could cost you client relationships and future referrals (like what this Forbes article talks about). So, be careful. If there’s any doubt, then there is no doubt on what to do.  

Acting ethically can help establish you as the credible financial professional that your clients refer their friends and family to, and help you retain them. 

Put Your Interests Aside 

When you make a recommendation, you should be considering your client’s interests above your own. It means listening to your clients and understanding what they want and what they need. Think about if you had to make the same decision in six months or a year. Would you make the same recommendation for your client? Your product recommendation may be a good fit now, but will it be in five years, too?  

Retirement strategies often mean making decisions about what might happen down the road. Understanding your clients’ goals and building a strategy based on helping them achieve them is the one way to ensure that you’re doing what’s right and fits into the values that you’ve built your business on. Having an ethics policy is a good way to ensure that those values are honored. It can be used as a guide for how you (and anyone in your office) conducts business.  

If you don’t have an ethics policy in place, maybe it’s time to think about creating one. Check out our sample ethics policy template to get started building out a foundation for your business that you can be proud of.  


For financial professional use only, not for use with the general public. #19-0100-022720 


This information is intended for Financial Professionals who are insurance licensed only. If you are securities licensed, please contact your Broker Dealer for their requirements. 

These educational pieces are intended to be informative and provide generalized guidance. They should not be construed as legal advice or provide protection against compliance violations brought on by a consumer or state insurance commission. It is the sole responsibility of the financial professional to seek compliance or legal direction specific to their individual situation. These pieces should be used to raise awareness and evaluate business practices. 

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Written By

Rocky Robbins

Vice President, Compliance

Rocky Robbins is the Vice President of Compliance at Brokers International. Over his more than 15 years of experience in the financial services industry, Rocky served in a variety of corporate legal and compliance positions. Rocky understands the complex regulatory environment that financial professionals must navigate, and strives to provide real-world solutions to help financial professionals reduce their risks.

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